Online Giants up the Ante

The evolution of the Hispanic and Latin American online space happening at the speed of light. Telemundo and Yahoo just split after a two-and-ahalf year long partnership and announced new strategies; Univision Online changed its name to Univision Interactive; other large players like Terra and Starmedia are expanding on their own. “It's great news all around,” says Marcelo Salup, Media Director at Siboney USA, who buys media for major companies such as Colgate.

 “Think about it from this perspective: We just presented to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida. We were asked—as we often are—how relevant the Internet is for Hispanics. We answered that Telemundo is investing significantly in developing its own website. Yahoo is investing significantly in its own site as it separates. Terra is announcing a wide-ranging series of innovations and presentations that will be released one per week. The internet is a very alive medium for Hispanics and evidently there is a consensus that there will be money in it. Why else would these companies be revamping their offerings in the same 2-week period?” asks Salup.

Interactive advertising is also proving to be well-shielded from the stagnation of the U.S. economy. “We are seeing more and more budgets being shifted to the interactive space. Especially now when every ad dollar counts, advertisers will turn more to the online space in 2009 where all actions are measurable and quantifiable,” says Kristina Canada, Media Director at Media 8. Online advertising is also getting more sophisticated. Canada notes, “aggressive audience targeting and performance- driven placements are the two strategies that we are focusing on for 2009. Because our target audiences are largely U.S. Hispanic and Latin American, we take great measures to ensure that we are reaching those exact targets.

This can take the form of IP, behavioral and contextual targeting to name a few. Pricing models are shifting to more performance based CPC, CPA or CPL models and standardized CPM branding placements are starting to take a back seat to pricing models that guarantee a user action, ensuring that the advertisers are paying for actual interaction with their brand/products.”

Susan Morgan, Midwest account executive at Gorilla Nation, notes that she is seeing growth in the CPG and Telecommunications categories: “Advertisers are now making it a priority to speak to the Hispanic audience in their language and within culturallyrelevant environments,” she tells Portada. “We are excited to see an increase in dedicated budgets allocated to Hispanic-targeted initiatives,” Morgan adds.

Yahoo Telemundo Split

Of the many tectonic shifts that have taken place in the Hispanic media market over the past year, the splitting of Yahoo Telemundo easily ranks as one of the more significant.
Peter Blacker, SVP Digital Media at Telemundo sounds upbeat reflecting on the recent transition that Telemundo has made away from Yahoo in partnering with MSN: “We’re ending on a positive note. It’s not that we won’t partner with Yahoo again in the future.

For instance I’m sure we’ll partner in People en Espanol’s “51 Most Beautiful.” So it’s really just the end of this phase. I think a good way to look at it is that the whole industry is getting a bit stronger and offering more options.” Yahoo´s general manager of the Americas Armando Rodríguez agrees in that the maturing Hispanic online advertising market needs more options. “From Yahoo’s perspective, we are excited about the growth and new opportunities of online advertising as a whole. Advertising platforms, technology, and even clients’ needs have changed a lot in the last few years and we are confident that Yahoo has the reach and advertising solutions to drive growth.”

Traffic

One of the central questions in the aftermath of the Yahoo Telemundo dissolution has been where the traffic will redirect when users enter Telemundo.yahoo.com into the Web browser. That question has been settled with Solomon-like equity. As Blacker explains to Portada, “Users will be given the option at the landing page to proceed to either Yahoo’s site or to Telemundo.com.” Both companies have been encouraging users to bookmark their new web addresses to obviate the choice, but Blacker tells Portada that the Yahoo Telemundo page will remain “in perpetuity” for those who find themselves at the crossroads.

One thing that is immediately apparent is Telemundo’s emphasis on integrating all advertising programs as fully as possible across platforms. As Blacker told Portada, “For the second year in a row several of our upfront advertisers have made upfront commitments to digital. It’s turned into a media upfront instead of simply a TV upfront. We’re seeing a lot of enthusiasm from the clients for these integrated buys, and expect that to continue.” He points to a recent campaign they did with Sprint for the popular telenovela Sin Senos, where for the first week Sprint subscribers were invited to vote via their mobile phones which direction they wanted the show to go.

The campaign received over 10,000 votes in the first week, before opening it up to the general public online, a telling example of how the company is tying its platforms together, and offering creative value for its advertisers.

The campaign was put together with Sprint’s Hispanic agency, New Yorkbased Vidal Partnership. “Telecom has been a pretty hot category for us overall,” says Blacker, citing another campaign they recently did with Verizon which integrated the telecom company’s brand into on-air programming of its telenovela El Rostro de Analia, as well as made-for-Web video clips.

Yahoo’s Armando Rodríguez says that his company is looking to maximize the company’s scale, technology and platform throughout the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets, in order to deliver in three key areas:

1. Providing industry-leading platforms that attract the most
publishers and developers
2. Offering advertising solutions that allow advertisers to effectively
reach their audiences
3. Being the essential starting point: Providing users with the best front page, e-mail, search, and community experiencesonline.

We can reach all Hispanics wherever they may be (in the U.S. and the Americas) and we can also use leading edge technology such as IP targeting and behavioral targeting to reach them.
After the dissolution of Yahoo Telemundo, Yahoo’s Hispanic destination is once again Yahoo en Español, as it was before the partnership. “The transition is part of a phased approach which includes the rebranding of Yahoo Telemundo to Yahoo en Español with the addition of new site features,” says Rodriguez. “Yahoo is not partnering with any other companies for the re-launch, but will remain open to all content providers, including Telemundo, MTV, People en Español, Sony Music, Warner Music and EMI.

What do media buyers say?

Marla Skiko, SVP, Director of Digital Innovation at Chicago–based Tapestry, sees the move in a positive light: “I think the split is actually good for the marketplace as it really only means additions vs subtractions,” Skiko tells Portada. “By that I mean there is more content and more behavioral targeting by both players.” Skiko says that it is great for advertisers targeting Hispanics to have more content choices and, with a new site offering, Telemundo hopes to bring just that in addition to a fresh look and improved functionality. “On the Yahoo side,” Skiko tells Portada, “it is important that a major portal player continues to place emphasis on the Hispanic online audience as they too add relevant content and offer the ability to target behaviorally across their site and site partners.”

Media 8's Kristina Canada, also sees the move as being good for both brands: “Separately, Yahoo and Telemundo are both strong brands that have a lot to offer US Hispanic audiences,” says Canada.

Other big players are not standing still, either. Terra recently launched its Atom Project across the Americas with two home pages and six main pages: Terra Homepage (English and Spanish), Entretenimiento (English and Spanish), Vida y Estylo (English and Spanish), Deportes and Noticias (Spanish). The URLs remain the same. “The beauty of this launch is that, for the first time ever, all of Terra's portals in all countries will undergo the change,” says Jorge Mercado, Terra's Marketing Director.

Digital advertising agency, Avenue A/Razorfish was instrumental to the launch. According to Mercado, “Avenue A conducted several focus groups to determine the navigation habits of different users. In addition, we employed the experience from our own users as well as the knowledge that we've garnered from each country to best fit the needs of the user. The goal was to create a site that was clear, integrated and engaging yet simpler to navigate.” Starmedia, owned by France Telecom (Orange), has been expanding in the Americas with a substantial amount of new-hires in Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Chile.

Integration

A clear trend in the strategies of online media companies is the integration of all interactive areas (online video, mobile, online advertising etc). Market leader Univision Communications Inc., recently announced that Univision Online has been renamed Univision Interactive Media. In addition to encompassing Univision.com, the mostvisited Spanish-language website among U.S. Hispanics, Univision Interactive Media will include Univision Móvil, the industry's most comprehensive Spanishlanguage suite of mobile offerings, including in-show wireless integrations, mobile video, SMS and Premium SMS programs, mobile portals, mobile advertising and an extensive downloadable content catalogue.

Mobile advertising has held promise for years, yet ad volumes haven’t met expectations. Will 2009 be the year mobile really takes off? Marla Skiko from SMG Multicultural says the medium still is not quite there. “Marketers truly want to capture the power of the medium as it is such a mandatory device for all consumers, particularly multicultural consumers. The issue lies with the need for the marketing platform to mature so that planning and executing mobile is simpler and accountability improves,” Skiko tells Portada.

“Mobile is one of Yahoo’s big bets for 2009,” saysYahoo’s Rodríguez. “We are excited about our regional partnerships with Movistar and America Movil and about the key services that we have launched like Yahoo one Search and Yahoo Go. In 2008, we sold several mobile advertising campaigns in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil and are forecasting growth in 2009.”

Media 8´s Kristina Canada notes that there were some promising developments in 2008 with the release of the popular Apple iPhone and all the custom applications offered with it: “I don’t think we will see any tremendous growth in the mobile space, but rather incremental gains over the next year or so as technologies change within the space and users become more dependent on these devices.”
Speaking directly to Telemundo’s mobile initiatives, Peter Blacker said that this is a huge growth area and one that the company is trying to develop at every opportunity. Asked about whether the scope of its mobile campaigns was leaning toward either branding or direct response, Blacker told Portada, “We’re definitely seeing a lot more branding than direct response, which is different from the general market.”

 

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