Striking it Rich: Spanish-language Sites Deploy Interactive Features

The public wants them and Advertisers need them. Interactive website features such as video clips, podcasts, and viral components were once quite rare, but now have become increasingly prevalent, and almost commonplace in the Hispanic online realm. Now, virtually all of the major Latino web destinations include some elements of rich content on their pages. Perhaps the most prevalent example is that of streaming video or music clips.

Bilingual social networking site QuePasa recently re-launched with a beta version of its site, with lots of feature-rich content, including a “Top Ten” list of the most popular videos as rated by its users. Visitors are able to select the video quality according to the speed of their internet connection. Available streaming speeds are 56K, 100K, and 300K. Music is central to the re-launch of the website: “We have a major relationship with Universal Music and offer thousands of their music videos. On the newly re-launched QuePasa, music and video uploading is much easier for members to integrate their selections into their profiles than it was in the old site,” says Eric Rayman, SVP of sales and marketing for the company. “We are already seeing a huge number of member-created videos uploaded daily and we expect that number to increase geometrically.”

Rayman notes that the site has been designed to incorporate all rich-media options:

“We take images in JPG, GIF, HTML or Flash formats and we take video ads in Flash, MPEG or AVI.” With regard to advertising, Rayman says that they have done pre-roll video for some clients, but are currently exploring other options: “Video advertising is most effective when a banner is on the same page as the video ad. As for pre-rolls on video, we’ll accept them, but we think this is a format that may already be in the process of being bypassed by other kinds of video advertising. We are looking at more creative ways to have advertising accompany our videos, such as with avatars or other logos or characters moving along the bottom part of a video. Our technology allows us to place ads on and around our videos in creative ways and we’re looking to find ways to use video in a way that will be effective without interfering with the user experience,” says Rayman.


Animated Banners leads into Microsite

Batanga.com features a new campaign for Heineken, which touts Heineken’s new mini-keg – or “Barril,” as “La Sistema Futuristica—or The Futuristic Keg.” The animated banner leads to a slickly produced microsite—ElBarrilHeineken.com—intended to convey the party vibe that the mini-keg brings with it. The setting of the site is a futuristic dance club, and shows a model strutting around with a glass of Heineken, striking provocative, robot-like, poses. The user is then presented with two options. One button says “Ven a bailar (Come and Dance”) and the other says “Entrar al Mundo del Barril Heineken (Enter the World of the Heineken Mini-keg.)”

 

A Guide to Rich Advertising/Content Features

Podcast:

A downloadable audio/video file that can be replayed on one's portable media device

Pre-Roll Video:

An advertisement that runs prior to a free video.

 

Send to a friend:

A button that allows friends to email media files to one another.

Online Chat:

One of the original interactive features, this allows users to chat in real time.

Image Hosting:

Allows users to upload and store photos to their accounts and to “tag” photos by various criteria, including location, people in the photo, etc.

Links:

Many websites will contain links to cited sources that lead outside the original website. This is particularly common in blogs.

Comment Trail:

Allows users to comment on an article/sound clip/video and on one another’s comments.


The first link takes one to a virtual dance floor where the user can upload his/her photo to the site. The user’s face is then automatically super-imposed onto the body of a robot that goes through a dance routine to the sounds of club music. There is also an option where friends can upload their photos and everyone can dance together in this virtual club. While the idea is rather gimmicky, and the dance moves decidedly weak, the overall production is impressive nonetheless. The designers added a viral component where the user can send the dance section to friends. There is also an option where website/blog owners can copy the code to the program and include it on their own web pages. The second link leads one to a virtual tour inside the mini-keg.

Web portal Terra also features a slew of interactive features, including a “Fotolog,” where users can upload and share pictures, a chat area where users can discuss various interests and a blogspace where users can set up their own blogs. The site also features TerraTV, Terra Radio (through a partnership with online radio site Live365) and even an electronic greeting center where users can send virtual postcards.

In an effort to distinguish themselves from other websites’ offerings, Spanish-language portals often try to focus on areas that others pass over. StarMedia and Terra have developed women’s channels, with features like recipe searches and chat forums devoted to relationship issues. Starmedia also includes a section on tourism, where visitors can browse destinations and even book flights.

Of course, an article on rich content would not be complete without a mention of the blogosphere, which has given rise to many of the interactive features that we consider to be—well, rich.  A good example of this is upstart blog Guanabee.com, which takes a humorous look at Latino-related news. Among the sites features is a “send to a friend” button where visitors can forward items of interest on to their pals. Another feature appealing to younger users allows one to post a blog entry to their social network site page. It also has a section where one can publicly comment on a given post and on other visitors’ comments about that post, thus fostering a sense of community among the site’s users. These interactive features also help establish a relationship between the user and the site, as the site becomes more of an experience than a product. And this is the sort of dynamic that keeps users coming back time after time.

Women’s magazine Kena, which launched last April understands this dynamic and has taken advantage of the online space to enhance the user experience. On the various pages of its website, it features what appears to be a note attached to a clipboard. On the note appear various teaser lines offering tips on how to care for one’s hair and skin. When one clicks on the teaser, an audio clip begins to play. One clip currently features hair-care advice by popular Mexican actress Kate del Castillo. In essence, Kena is enhancing the reader experience by offering features on its website that it is not able to offer in its print edition.


Podcasting…

One of the most revolutionary rich media features that is gaining in popularity is the podcast, which allows users to download audio/video clips to their portable multimedia players, like the ipod. The benefits of such a feature are obvious: Portability is a huge advantage to this feature as it allows the user to access the content when and where he or she wants to. Podcasting allows people to go about their daily business without missing their favorite radio broadcast/television show. It also gives newspaper and magazine websites a new channel through which to connect with their readers—and deliver advertising.

One company pioneering the medium for Spanish-speaking markets is Barcelona-based Podsonoro.com. The website features over 30,000 podcasts, indexed by country of origin and topic. Topics covered include books, music, news, entertainment, art and science, to name a few. The site allows visitors to listen directly through their browser or to download to their portable media players. Users may also compile lists of their favorite podcasts and share them with others. The homepage features a list of the week’s highlighted podcasts and a running discussion about ones to look out for.


Interactive Content

All of the above demonstrates that interactive content is becoming the new imperative in the ever more competitive Hispanic Internet. Given the breadth of rich media options available, and the fact that both visitors and advertisers are demanding them, it would be unreasonable for websites not to develop these features. The opportunities presented by rich media seem to be bound only by technological limitations, which one by one are being lifted, revealing new opportunities in their wake. Taking all of this into account, the future looks bright for existing and emerging rich media.


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Editorial Staff

Portada Staff

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