Any marketer who hasn’t been taking a siesta for the past decade knows that the Hispanic population in the US has grow immensely in size, influence and buying power. Furthermore, most Hispanic Americans are active Internet users.

This was confirmed recently by the "The AOL Latino 2006 Hispanic Cyberstudy" conducted by Synovate. The study found that there are more than 16 million Hispanic Americans online, equivalent to 55% of the total US Hispanic population. Of those online, 77% have broadband access.

An important fact for marketers to note: The study found that more than two-thirds (68%) of Hispanic Internet users consider the Internet to be the best source for information on brand choices.

In addition, 77% of Hispanic Internet users use the Internet to learn about brands, with 75% claiming to go online to learn about specific brand features or benefits.

And 72% go online to compare prices of products.

Beyond shopping, Hispanic Americans also use the Internet for social networking (43% of Hispanic Internet users visit social networking sites): 68% use instant messaging, 63% share photos, 52% read or post blogs and 40% talk on a phone using the Internet. Additionally, 48% visit news sites. Music, weather, health and travel Web sites are also popular.

In related findings, more than 30% of the members of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) predict that Hispanic advertising expenditure will grow by more than 10% this year.

Looking five years into the future, a majority of respondents believe the finance industry will increase ad spending most significantly, at 76%, followed by entertainment at 59% and pharmaceuticals at 55%.