A local media company is helping advertisers target the next big thing in the media world — Hispanic audiences.

HCode, founded by Santa Monica resident Parker Morse, is a digital advertising platform that connects big brands with the burgeoning Latinx market. In just a handful of years, Morse and his company have worked with heavy media hitters such as HBO and Disney.

Morse talked with the Daily Press to explain what exactly his company does and how to authentically reach a diverse audience with care.

Can you describe when or how you saw that there was a need in the Hispanic audience?

I read stats somewhere that 60% of LA is Hispanic, yet I didn’t see that marketing anywhere. This is the most influential consumer in America for the next twenty years! That’s important for every business moving forward. It’s this obvious opportunity where the Hispanic consumer is everywhere but brands aren’t meeting them, especially digitally.

I think culture is the greatest way to impact emotion and everyone wants to be spoken to in an authentic way — whether sports fans or family or moms, but especially of the culture for Hispanics. It can be an extremely valuable move for advertisers.

When I first started the company it was seeing an opportunity but wanting to create an authentic company and product. The first three hires were Hispanic individuals and we wanted a diverse company to bring authenticity to a product. We want to develop awareness in the right way so people see themselves represented in advertisements.

How does HCode work, exactly?

We are a platform sitting between brands and publishers. From a publisher’s perspective, we rep more digital inventory specifically Hispanic media. Working with Fortune 500 brands like Target, Ford, Honda, other major California-based advertisers. CA Lottery, Covered California, auto companies and many more

What are the missed opportunities brands are facing by not including Latinx audiences as part of their advertising?

The growth sector. Only 5% of Fortune 500 advertisers’ budget goes to a multicultural audience. Multicultural audiences are the audience. People are diverse. Those that understand that and drive action to authentically speak to that will see success.

What are some mistakes brands make when targeting this audience?

They just check boxes. They might take an ad they had and translate it and think they have it. They don’t understand the nuance; it’s far more cultural than just, hey, they’re Spanish speakers. You need to take the time to understand the audience, not just check the box.

What nuances should brands be aware of within the Latinx market?

This audience is digital first. They over-index in mobile phone consumption. Brands spend that on TV and radio, 80% of their ad budget, missing where that audience is playing, digital and mobile space. So we want to do two things: help brands understand that audience and then create a digital platform so they see value in moving to that digital space. As a company, we have the definitive reach and leadership in the market for where brands go to understand this audience better. We educate brands about this audience and we think we can bring better value to marketers to help them understand this audience better.

How do you ensure proper representation in these ads?

70% of our company is Hispanic. It’s not a homogeneous Hispanic audience; there’s diversity among that audience. They bring different perspectives each day into creative strategies about how we speak to and educate clients. Second is our intelligence center, a proprietary panel that asks deep and long survey questions to get a better understanding of our audiences — how they buy things, think about things. We want the messaging we’re using to resonate.


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