It’s that time of year – when all the prediction articles come out. Not one to be left behind, I have decided to take a stab at some bold predictions for what I see happening in Hispanic marketing in 2012. However, in my contrarian tradition, I’ve decided to make eight predictions of what I don’t expect to happen in 2012. Here we go:
1. Hispanic digital media spend will surpass print and radio, as in the general market. Digital media spend in the Hispanic market will remain far behind TV, radio and print – approximately 5% in 2011. With all the talk about increased spending on Hispanic digital by agencies and marketers alike, we will look back on 2012 and see digital spend stayed well below double digit territory and is nowhere near surpassing radio or print – as we saw in the general market in 2011.
2. Hispanic ad spend will stay flat in 2012. If there is one prediction you can take to the bank, it’s this one – Hispanic media ad spend will grow in 2012 compared with 2011. While there is still concern over a double-dip recession in 2012 – particularly as things unravel in Europe – the 2012 elections and the juggernaut that is Univision will assure growth in the market. Portada recently released a report projecting 4 to 5% media growth in the Hispanic market based on a survey of Hispanic marketing professionals. I think this is conservative.
3. Marketers will increase their budget allocations to the Hispanic market. Although the previous prediction would logically lead most to believe marketers would increase their Hispanic budget allocations – the percentage of their overall marketing budgets directed at the U.S. Hispanic market – the sad reality is things will remain status quo when it comes to the approach most marketers take to allocating budgets to the Hispanic market. Most of the growth in Hispanic ad spend in 2012 will be driven by new entrants into the space led by political advertising – not just candidates, but the super PACs that are finally paying attention to Hispanics. Existing Hispanic advertisers will maintain their Hispanic spend in the same range as in 2010.
4. Mainstream digital publishers will stop launching English-language “Latino” Websites. The last two years have seen major media companies jump into the Hispanic digital space – targeting the oft-discussed bicultural and English dominant Latino, including FoxNewsLatino.com, NBCLatino.com and The Huffington Post Latino Voices. Some might assume the space is crowded, or competing with media powerhouses like News Corp, AOL and NBC Universal is futile. I see more of these “Latino” extensions coming in 2012. Why? The barrier to entry is so low. With digital, unlike the offline world of broadcast or print, there is very little capital cost – if any – associated with launching a new publication. Sure, a good website infrastructure is not cheap, and producing quality content is not easy, but compared to printing costs of launching a Spanish-language daily or a licensing fees associated with launching a new Spanish-language radio station, the costs are marginal and worth the risk. One interesting ramification of this new media growth is there will be many more options to reach English-speaking Latinos than ever before.
5. Mobile will finally become a key part of the Hispanic marketing mix for most advertisers. “2012 will be the year of Hispanic mobile marketing.” I’m sure you’ve heard or read this somewhere. With all the data on Hispanics’ heavy use of mobile and major growth in general-market mobile marketing, it stands to reason Hispanic mobile will come of age in 2012. Unfortunately, this is a major case of all bark and no bite. I see a couple of problems with these naïve predictions. #1 Where will the money come from? With most mobile media programs funded out of digital media buckets, and Hispanic digital media spending in the 5 to 6% range, mobile marketing programs will be hard pressed to find funding in an already dry well. #2 With so much growth in mobile activity driven by mobile Web browsing and tablet use, I do not anticipate significant investment on the part of marketers into Hispanic mobile or tablet-optimized sites when most hardly keep up their browser-based Hispanic Web and microsites. #3 Hispanic mobile and social media are inextricably intertwined, and Hispanic social media is still in its infancy – see below.
6. Clients will continue moving their Hispanic advertising to general market shops. As the economy slowly starts improving in 2012 – I’m an optimist – I expect there will be less pressure on marketers to consolidate their general market and Hispanic advertising programs in one ad shop. Equally important, many veteran Hispanic marketers who consolidated will likely miss the attention to detail and specialized resources they got from Hispanic ad agencies compared with the Hispanic divisions of general market shops. I think general market shops are less excited about investing in Hispanic capabilities and divisions after experiencing how little budget is actually allocated to these programs. Five percent of a client’s marketing budget is not too exciting when you already have 95% of it.
7. Hispanic social media will become a major force in the industry. Again, lots of buzz, but very little substance to back it up. A lot of attention was placed on engaging Hispanics in social media in 2010 and 2011. We saw the establishment of two rival Hispanic social media organizations and countless blog networks touting thousands of influential Hispanic bloggers. The space is still in its infancy and will take a while to catch up to the general market in scale and sophistication. While I applaud the efforts of organizations like LATISM, Hispanicize, and Latina Bloggers Connect among others, large reach and national marketer scale is still missing from the space. Specifically, as more Latinos start blogging and building large networks on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, there is a key missing ingredient – an audience of millions of Latinos consuming their content. Until that happens, Hispanic social media will be a niche within a niche.
8. We won’t see any new Hispanic advertising agencies open their doors in 2012. No matter how challenging or competitive the Hispanic ad industry gets, it always amazes me that new Hispanic ad agencies are launched every year. I don’t have an official count, but I know of at least a dozen or so shops launched between 2009 and 2011 – arguably the most challenging three years the industry faced. It’s quite a testament to the resilience and constant innovation within the industry that optimistic entrepreneurs see opportunities to make a better mousetrap in our business.
I think 2012 will be a good year for our industry filled with its fair share of challenges, but opportunities to grow and prosper as Hispanics become a bigger and more integral element of the American corporate and cultural life.