Media Behemoths Battle Online Pure-plays for Hispanic Eyeballs

“Hispanic portals reach consumers in an interactive web environment and are able to target consumers much more directly based on behavior and demographic information,” says Batanga’s chief marketing officer, Rick Marroquin. While it is true that many portals have overlapping content, they also have niche specialties that advertisers can pinpoint to reach their targets. Some focus solely on the U.S. Hispanic market, whereas others strive for a global presence. Most portals target the younger crowd, while some seek to be all things to all people.


Who do you love? Target Audiences

Terra Networks is one of the biggest Hispanic portals around and serves both the U.S. and Latin American markets. Terra has several editions of its websites, one for each country in which it is present. Michelle Azan, Terra’s VP of sales, says that the portal’s target demographic in the U.S., is the 18-49 year-old bilingual, Spanish-preferred Latino, with a higher HHI and education level than the overall Hispanic population. Regarding its language mix, Azan notes, “At our launch in late 1999, through late 2001, Terra was a fully bilingual site, with distinct Spanish and English content on what was, essentially, two sites. Due to difficulty in monetizing the English site, we had to shut it down,” says Azan. “Since late 2005, Terra has again tested English content with specials such as World Cup 2006, Copa America 2007, Gold Cup 2007, our travel channel bilingual re-launch this summer and some music specials as well. We expect that there will be even more English content added to our site in 2008,” she adds.

With over 5 million registered users, Univision.com is a huge player in the Hispanic portal space. It has 24 sales people devoted exclusively to online sales. Ninety percent of advertising is national, with just 10% local. Portada estimates that, with approximately $60 million per year in revenues, it is the largest player in the Hispanic online media market. It mostly targets Spanish-dominant Hispanics, aged 18-34. While Univision Online’s original content is in Spanish, a number of its most popular functions such as chat, email and social networking are available in Spanish and English. Users also use both languages on the message boards and social networking pages. “We reached new highs this year with over 15 million average monthly unique browsers,” says Univision Online president and COO Javier Saralegui. “We also solidified our position once again as the largest Spanish-language website in the U.S. Our achievements are due in part to the launch of our groundbreaking video portal and social networking service, “Mi Página.”  

“Batanga’s target demographic is Hispanic young adult music fans,” says its chief marketing officer Rick Marroquin. “We focus on providing Hispanics the most comprehensive library of Latin Music content. The selection ranges from old Cuban baladas to the latest in Latin Alternative Rock and Reggaeton.” Marroquin notes that Batanga has millions of people that have registered with one of their many forums or to vote on music on their site. “In addition, Batanga has nearly 200,000 active users registered on our ‘My Batanga’ social network. We are registering new users at a rate of over 1,000 per day,” says Marroquin. “We have approximately 3.4 million monthly users.”

Also going after the U.S. Hispanic music enthusiast is upstart Cyloop, which targets US Hispanics aged 18-34. Until its recent re-launch, Cyloop went by the name ElHood.com. President Demian Bellumio explains, “The name change was done to provide us with the ability to have a unified global platform. We believe that what speaks to the audience is really the content, and what we are doing is creating content for each region that we are attacking.  For example, in Spain, the site is being managed by our Madrid team, and highlights content that is more attractive for Spanish users.” Bellumio says that the name Cyloop allows them to establish a global footprint without having to create different brands for each market. Even still, Bellumio maintains, the company’s principal market in the States is U.S. Hispanic. “Who knows if in the future we also extend to the general market here? If we do, we will probably do it with a strong distribution partner.”

StarMedia’s audience—which is male and female, mainly 16-34 years old—lies largely outside of the U.S. Of its 25.5 million unique users that visit its network of sites on a monthly basis, just 15% visit its U.S. site. The bulk of its visitors—22%—hail from Mexico. Fifteen percent come from Peru, 10% from Argentina, 10% from Colombia, 8% from Venezuela, and the remainder from various Central and South American countries.

MSN Latino casts a wide net when appealing to users to use its site and tries to accommodate all tastes and ages, regardless of gender. “The site targets U.S. Hispanics who choose to communicate and consume media online in Spanish,” says central region account executive Chris Emme. The site receives about 7 million unique monthly visitors.

As an offshoot of the ubiquitous general market internet portal America Online, AOL Latino follows a similar model of catering to the broadest possible audience. As such, it does not target certain age groups or demographics.

Yahoo! Telemundo is a giant Hispanic portal, with approximately 13.1 million unique visitors per month. The company targets U.S. Hispanics with both Spanish-language and English-language content.


Content, Content, Content…

What content do Hispanic portal surfers like to consume? The range of content is as varied as that consumed by the general market. It is this range that facilitates the existence of multiple Latino portals, each one seeking to carve out its very own niche in the marketplace. Even so, there is certainly some overlap with regard to content offerings and features.

Batanga is highly-focused on its music content, and claims to have the largest catalog of Latin music of any other portal. “The backbone of Batanga is the most comprehensive library of Latin Music content. Batanga streams over 200 MM songs and videos per month,” says Marroquin.

Competitors like the newborn Cyloop seek to establish a technological edge on some of the more established properties. “We really focus on being a top-notch music content site not just in the Hispanic market, but in the entire online space,” says Bellumio. He points out that all music on Cyloop is on-demand: “You can make a playlist with your favorite artist’s entire music catalog for free and play it whenever you choose.”

AOL Latino offers a wide variety of content including news, sports, celebrity features, entertainment, beauty and fashion, blogs, games, music including over 200 radio stations, as well as free email and instant messaging, traffic, lottery and weather updates.

Univision offers original and exclusive entertainment, news, sports, services and shopping channels geared toward the interests of U.S. Hispanics. It features classifieds, weather reports, online radio and a host of other services. It also features international news content.

StarMedia and Terra rely on a wide range of content to draw traffic to their sites. StarMedia’s VP of operations Juan José Núñez notes this when he describes his site’s content as “Generic lifestyle day-to-day content for men and women of all ages.”

Terra’s Michelle Azan says, “Music, Sports, News are key for our audience. However, other very popular content verticals include Entertainment, Autos, Health, and Women content. How our users consume that content has changed to be very centered on video content on Terra TV.

Chris Emme, central region account executive of MSN Latino, says, “Our network is comprised of our communication services which is our in-language Hotmail and Instant Messenger service and our information services which carry news, auto content, finance, sports, astrology, weather, games and much more provided by some of the industry’s best branded names such as Reuters, Fox Sports en Español, Billboard Latin Music, Astrocentro, Latina Magazine, AutoMundo and many, many more high quality content providers.”


Interactivity…

One thing that all of these sites have in common is that they’re pushing toward greater interactivity, to make their sites “stickier,” and keep users engaging with content and advertising for longer periods of time.  A common thread is that those sites that don’t already have social networking components are developing them. Music content and streaming video are becoming imperative in this development.

Univision Online made two major strides in the interactivity department this year with its launch of “Mi Pagina,” a social networking forum, and its launch of a video portal. Mi Pagina features all of the standard social networking tools, like video/photo sharing, blog-hosting, etc. Its video portal is more impressive, with Univision’s entire catalog of shows available, and searchable by genre, particular show or popularity.

Batanga’s Rick Marroquin says, “The social network offers a full suite of interactive tools, allowing consumers to upload user-generated content. There is a significant number of products around music that we offer consumers to enjoy their favorite types of Latin music, like online radio and streaming video.”

StarMedia is also offering streaming video and online radio. “We have a range of other free services including: chat rooms, E-mail, forums, personal page hosting and our soon to be launched user content generation and social networking tools,” says Juan Jose Núñez, StarMedia’s vice president of operations.

For MSN Latino, online games and video are its biggest interactive outlets. “However,” notes Emme, “our communication services like Messenger, webcam, and Windows Live Hotmail are some of the best in-language services in the market.”

Games and video also figure heavily into Yahoo Telemundo’s site. As Adam Chandler, U.S. director of sales for Yahoo! Telemundo puts it, “The site features video content where users can upload and vote on their favorites; voting in several areas such as music, where you can vote on your favorite music video; polls where you can share opinions in several areas, fantasy games where you can interact/compete with people from all over the world who share your same passion; Flickr, which allows users to share there photos with a worldwide community and also join special groups by interest, themes, etc. We also have a section called “Answers (Respuestas),” which allows users to ask and answer questions (in many languages), tapping into global knowledge base.”

Cyloop offers online photo albums, blogging, and the dynamic music playlist creation outlined earlier, whereby one can create music playlists on the fly.

“Some of our interactive features include user generated sections like blogs, photo blogs, photo sharing, share with a friend features in music and Terra TV, RSS, and Yo Reporto citizen journalism. Coming very soon, we have social networking and personal pages,” says Terra’s Michelle Azan.


Difference is in the Details…

While many of the portals offer similar content and interactive features, they also seek to differentiate themselves from the competition to appeal to visitors in unique ways that will have them coming back frequently, and staying for longer periods.

Cyloop’s President Demian Bellumio says that the biggest difference between his site and others is that it features artist-generated content as opposed to user generated content. “We provide artists with a global platform to market themselves. We are currently in the U.S. and Spain and are quickly expanding in Latin America and beyond,” says Bellumio. “Another thing that differentiates us is that we are purely music focused. We don’t do sports or have sexy Latinas on top of cars or anything like that Cyloop also powers partner sites, like Warnermusiclatina.com, providing users with a unique login to the best music sites,” says Bellumio. Indeed, a big part of Cyloop’s business model involves partnering with other companies and web properties. In November the company partnered with Terra in Spain to power Terra’s music channel there.

Terra’s Michelle Azan says that what differentiates Terra from other sites is that, “Terra offers high quality, in-depth content. Our focus is on engaging users with valuable content, rather than being a service platform offering instant messaging, email, etc. We provide a relevant, go-to source for a wide range of topics of interest to the US Hispanic consumer.”

Univision Online’s President Javier Saralegui says that what distinguishes his site from others is the strength of the brand: Univision Online is an extension of Univision, the leading and most powerful brand in Spanish-language media. We provide advertisers with exclusive content via a three-screen solution across our industry leading TV, PC and Wireless businesses.  Cross platform tie-ins include our most popular awards shows such as “Premio Lo Nuestro,” “Objetivo Fama” and “Latin GRAMMY,” as well as custom initiatives specific to a particular client.

Adam Chandler says, “Through our partnership with Telemundo, we are able to offer original video programming.  The site also features Yahoo! Telemundo Video which not only features extensive video content (with millions of streams per month) but also allows users to upload their own content.  We also feature many Community elements which are mashed into various areas throughout our properties – e.g. Yahoo! Telemundo Noticias features Flickr where users can upload and share their own images related to the news topic.

Unlike Terra, StarMedia emphasizes the range of services it offers its users. It offers email and chat with Latinmail and Latinchat, respectively, and also a venue where users can buy and sell used cars.

Rick Marroquin says that what sets Batanga apart is that it is the only independent site of any of the major sites targeting Latinos.


Advertising: The Lifeline

While the content and features of a site are clearly paramount in importance to users, it is how those elements can be leveraged to deliver ads that pique advertiser interest. As a result, Hispanic portals are continuously searching for new ways to offer creative ad-delivery options that will not infringe on the user experience.

For Terra, the use of technology is central to their advertising options: “We use behavioral targeting, DART Adapt for best optimization, DART ad serving filters for domain targeting, like .edu targeting as well as very specific geotargeting. We also offer reverse targeting for a client who wants to reach. Colombian-Americans, as they surf home country content in Terra Colombia,” says Azan. Terra also offers product integration in original video series, cross-platform initiatives and other creative programs such as custom mini-sites.

 “In addition to already standard display banners, StarMedia offers a variety of rich media creatives, videos pre-rolls, custom sponsorships, special packaging of content, advertorials, turn-key promotion programs like sweepstakes with videos and photos,” says Núñez. The company also offers advertisers what it calls “Roadblocks” and “Takeovers,” whereby StarMedia integrates the images, colors and brand of the advertisers into the design of the portal. Núñez notes that these options go beyond what is usually offered in the market, and are great for branding.

“Our marketing solutions team has extensive production capabilities that deliver effective marketing strategies and creative solutions to advertisers,” says Javier Saralegui. A recent example is a campaign that Home Depot ran on the site. When the user arrives on the landing page, he sees a wrench walking across the homepage and jumping into a Home Depot banner ad. Moments later, a bolt follows suit and does the same thing.

Cyloop allows advertisers to create custom communities around their products that incorporate widgets and recording artists into their campaigns.

One of MSN Latino’s fortes is in content sponsorship: “We have exclusive content from our partners that can be sponsored during certain events such as the Billboard Latin Music Awards, the Copa Libertadores tournament and Hispanic History Month to name a few,” says Chris Emme. “We also have dynamic options available on our Messenger and Windows Live Hotmail services which can allow an advertiser email marketing options and Tab Sponsorships. As well we are growing out our video options with better and better content options for Men, Women, Children, and Teens).

Yahoo! Telemundo launched an interesting campaign last summer for GMC, which consisted of a six week, made-for-broadband home improvement series where families had their houses made-over. There was a lot of interactive content created by the campaign, including behind the scenes outtakes, before/after photo galleries, polls related to the series, etc.


En Fin…

With all of these players in the same space, perhaps the biggest challenge is in distinguishing one’s site from the competition. This is why sites like Cyloop and Batanga try to establish advanced music programming. On a broad scale, they simply do not have the numbers to compete with a Univision or Yahoo! Telemundo. But by focusing on one aspect—music—they are able to establish themselves as leaders in their niche, one that is highly appealing to Hispanics of all ages, and establishes loyal fan-bases. Interesting to note is Hispanic newspaper publisher Impremedia’s major initiative to jump into the game by leveraging all of its print properties into one online destination in the recently launched Impremedia Digital, offering advertisers access to 2.1 million Hispanic users. If all goes as planned, expect to see that portal as a major contender and competitor for Hispanic eyeballs and ears, not to mention advertiser dollars.


Fighting for Latino eyeballs

 

Portal

Monthly Unique Visitors

Content

Advertisers

Yahoo! Telemundo

13.1 Million

News/Entertainment

Home Depot, Pepsi, Verizon

Terra U.S.

45 Million Global

News/Entertainment

Wal-Mart, Ford, Nikon, Army

Univision Online

15 Million

News/Entertainment

Sears, Verizon, Target, State Farm

MSN Latino

7 Million

News/Entertainment

Netflix, Ford, Chevy Malibu

Batanga

3.4 Million

Music/Entertainment

Ford, Royal Caribbean, Ciroc Vodka

Cyloop

N/A

Music/Artist-generated

Ford Sync, Focus,  AT&T

AOL Latino

8 Million

News/Entertainment

Chevy Malibu, Sony, Ford Sync

StarMedia

3.8 Million

News/Entertainment

Sony Ericsson, Navy, Lexus, Sprint


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Editorial Staff

Portada Staff

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