Generally absent in the discussion about mobile and Hispanics have been the other two platforms that make up the mobile marketing triumvirate - the mobile Web and mobile applications. I can't just blame others for this trend - as all of my recent presentations, blog posts and articles related to Hispanic mobile marketing have failed to delve into Hispanic opportunities within the mobile Web and mobile applications.
So what's the big deal? Well, it turns out that during that same time, our agency has launched a couple of pilot Hispanic mobile Web campaigns for a few of our clients (sorry, can't share names and data), and we have seen, on average, 500 times the response rates of Web banner and search campaigns targeting Hispanics. That's right -- 500 times response rates.
While I acknowledge that my statistically insignificant data does not constitute the basis for an industry white paper, it is worthy of discussion. For one, my data come from campaigns across a couple of client categories. In addition, two of the campaigns were national while one was regional. Most notably, the results were so significantly higher than anything we've seen on Web banners or paid search that I felt compelled to write this piece.
So why the huge response rate for Hispanic mobile Web campaigns? Maybe our experience was just the result of chance. However, three different campaigns, occurring at various times during a nine-month window, across various geographic markets indicates something more going on here. I have two theories:
1. Hispanic mobile Web represents an untapped and uncrowded space for marketers.
2. Hispanic consumers are still in a "honeymoon stage" with mobile Web.
On the first point, I think it is fairly safe to assume there are not many brands running Hispanic mobile Web campaigns at this point (that might change after this article). To my earlier points, I see most Hispanic mobile "testing" still focusing on SMS.
As a tactic that is a natural extension to offline programs (radio, OOH, events, promotions, etc.) this should come as no surprise. And much as was the case with Web advertising a few years ago, I think the general consensus is there is a mobile "digital divide," particularly as it relates to Web-enabled or 3G phone penetration in the Hispanic market.
So, as a natural extension of my first point, with little advertising activity targeting Hispanics on mobile Web, the little that is there is getting noticed by a Hispanic audience that is also fairly new to the space. They probably have only had Web-enabled mobile devices for less than two years, so they are in a honeymoon phase where they are far from burned out and more likely to respond.
For those of us who have been involved in Web advertising for more than five years, we can all remember the heady days of 0.3% - 0.5% click-thru rates on display ads. Industry click-thru rates have been steadily falling every year.
So what does all this mean? Again, without the benefit tons of data, I think there is a huge untapped opportunity in Hispanic mobile Web advertising. Taking my campaign response data as anecdotal (as you should), there are three trends that are real and cannot be ignored:
1. Mobile penetration among Hispanics is growing.
2. Hispanic 3G mobile device penetration is poised to grow significantly.
3. Hispanic mobile Web usage will grow (as a direct result of the aforementioned two trends).
Most importantly, the emergence of mobile Web and mobile application marketing opportunities to Hispanics signals a seismic change in how the mobile device can be used to reach the rapidly growing Hispanic population - from much more than an extension vehicle (as is the case with SMS) to a potential stand-alone or key marketing platform (arguably one of the most personal advertising medium that has ever existed).
If you are in the business of advertising to Hispanics, now is the time to start getting your toes wet before your competitors have fully made the plunge.