FAIRFAX, VA: Leading US advertisers are allocating an increasing proportion of their spending to Hispanic media according to new research.

AHAA, the voice of Hispanic marketing, analysed the advertising expenditure of the top 500 US marketers and found that they were directing 8.4% of their total spending to dedicated Hispanic efforts, up from 5.5% in 2010.

In value terms that amounted to a 63% increase, from $4.3bn to $7.1bn. On average the top 500 are now spending around $14m each in Hispanic media, compared to $9m five years ago.

This growth was being driven by "best-in-class" marketers, or those which allocate more than 14.2% of their advertising budget to these efforts aimed at bilingual Hispanics: their numbers have more than doubled, from 29 to 68.

This group spent $3.5bn last year, or almost half (47%) the total. On average they were spending $52m each, or more than four times the overall average of the top 500.

A second tier of companies allocates between 6.4% and 14.2% of their budgets to Hispanic marketing. The number of these "leaders" rose from 58 to 94.

The other three levels of advertiser identified by AHAA – "followers" spending 3.6% to 6.3% on Hispanic media, "laggards" spending 1.0% to 3.5% and "on the sidelines" spending less than 1% – all reduced in number as the top two groups grew and accounted for 100% of the expansion of resources earmarked for this consumer group.

AHAA highlighted certain companies, including Nissan, Toyota, Walmart, Target, Lowes, Verizon, AT & T, Ruby Tuesday and Wellpoint, as having upped their investment in media advertising expenditures devoted to Hispanics.

"The lesson of the top marketers in the United States is clear: follow the leader," said Carlos Santiago, president of research at AHAA and president of Santiago Solutions Group.

"With an eye on creating growth in revenue and market share, leading marketers continue to strengthen their efforts in Spanish, while also reaching Hispanics in English media with culturally nuanced messages."

Data sourced from AHAA; additional content by Warc staff