Over the years, to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing technologies, Incisive Media's SES conference series has shaped and reshaped its programming agenda. But for many watching the organization's recent foray into the world of Latino digital, a big question has emerged: Why does Latino merit its own event?
For some, creating a separate event and brand for Latinos may feel like a move to compartmentalize the market. I've heard this from a number of industry friends. Doesn't this ghettoize the conversation in marketing about one of the most interesting markets?
I can relate to this and other concerns one might have about the SES Latino brand. But a closer inspection of the Latino digital opportunity shows that compartmentalization is not what's driving the decision to break out a separate discussion. Throughout the marketing world - from industry conferences to vertically-focused publications - Latino digital is getting a lot of alone time these days because of its unique and surprising status in the digital marketing food chain. Latino digital has surfaced as an outlier market. Not a ghetto; not by a stretch. More like an affluent neighborhood. Both the size of the opportunity, and the attributes of the ecosystem dictate that Latino digital gets special attention.
Let's talk about the size for a moment. In an article published to coincide with SES's first experiment with Latino digital, I observed that a number that marketers love to cite is the $1.3 trillion-plus in buying power that Latinos will have by 2015 (reported by Packaged Facts). With Latinos now representing roughly 10 percent of U.S. buying power, one might argue that the Latino marketing spend should be close to $36 billion. The number today - $5 billion - is nowhere near that range - but the delta is what makes the market so interesting.
More and more, marketers are sensing that the gap will be closed and that early experiments in the most promising sector of the Latino marketing world - digital - will pay off big. Recent hires at Google and other digital powerhouses confirm that the game is on.
But just as interesting, if not even more interesting, are the demographic and technographic (to borrow a term from Forrester Research) attributes of the market. By now, most people in digital marketing know that Latinos, in the aggregate, out-index all other ethnic groups on public social networks. They also outpace all other groups in the purchase of smartphones, a device that has gotten more and more attention as both mobile advertising and mobile apps mature and penetrate the mainstream. Here's where it's clear that Latinos might actually constitute an outlier class. Not only do they warrant special attention. Marketers of all kinds might actually learn from them the way they have with any vanguard, early-adopter group.
Of course, there are a lot of complexities and challenges for any marketer at this early stage of market maturity.
In many ways, the Latino digital ecosystem is just beginning to take shape. It includes more traditional players like LatinVision - the key driver behind New York City's Latin American Media and Entertainment Week, the larger context for the SES Latino event. What's more, New York is home to the the second largest Hispanic community in the United States after L.A., as well as new players from the world of technology, advertising, and social media. That it's still coming together perhaps is the best reason for putting it under a spotlight.
Latin American Media and Entertainment Week also coincides with New York City's Advertising Week, which both kick off Oct. 3.)
Like many markets that have preceded it, Latino digital will grow only with the investment in time that people will give it, and the opportunity to meet live to explore the opportunities. Some of this is happening in New York that week. But I suspect we'll be seeing more of it in other major hubs - Chicago, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley - that are ready to respond with unique contributions to the Latino marketing neighborhood.
Meet Giovanni at SES Latino on Oct. 7, 2012 at Time Inc., New York, NY.
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Giovanni Rodriguez is an author, consultant, and public speaker on organizational leadership and digital/social communications. The views expressed in this blog are entirely his own.
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