Latin Interactive World: Interview: Damián Molina of Taringa!: “We don’t think of Facebook as a competitor”
Portada interviewed Damián Molina, of the Taringa! management team. Taringa is a social platform that combines blog style postings with the traditional connection and interaction features of social networks. It is one of the most popular social platforms among Internet users in Argentina. Molina revealed that the company is betting heavily on Mexico and is carefully evaluating a foray into the U.S. Hispanic market.
Portada: It is possible to compete with Facebook in Latin America? What options do social networks such as Sonic and Taringa! have?
Damián Molina: At Taringa! we do not look upon Facebook as a competitor, since both products satisfy different user needs and provide clearly distinct benefits from those of a traditional social network. Taringa! is considered a "Social Platform" that is part blog and part social network, where users share posts and access information uploaded by other users.
The content is provided by the collective intelligence of the entire community.
Both users and advertisers find that Taringa! gives them the opportunity to communicate in a different way and access virtually any content searched, whether through Taringa!, Google or any other search engine, that will almost certainly lead them to a post on Taringa!.
From the user perspective, at Taringa! they can share micro content such as "Shouts" (messages up to 256 characters), participate in common interest communities with other users, access relevant content, upload posts and share them with millions of people, connect with and follow other Taringa! members, listen to music, and more.
The posts are the backbone of the Taringa! product, and that is what clearly differentiates us from other social networks.
On the advertiser side, our products are designed to meet different digital marketing needs such as Branding, Awareness, Performance, Engagement, SEO, PPC Premium, Contextual and Behavioral. We have Rich Media products, Standard Banners, Sponsorships, Search PPC and other formats that are difficult to find in other social networks like Facebook. Although we compete for a portion of the advertising budget as a product and compete for users, we do not currently see Facebook as a competitor.
Portada: How much traffic (unique visitors) does Taringa! generate in Latin America by country and in the U.S. Hispanic market?
- ARGENTINA 14.000.000
- MEXICO 12.200.000
- SPAIN 6.800.000
- CHILE 4.700.000
- COLOMBIA 5.300.000
- PERU 3.800.000
- VENEZUELA 5.700.000
- USA 5.000.000
- URUGUAY 950.000
Portada: Why did you leave Fnbox/Sonico?
Damián Molina: After more than seven years [with the company], during which I contributed to the development and successful expansion of several of the group's products in the region ̶ such as Sonico.com, Cuponica.com, Recarga.com, TarjetasTelefonicas.com and Datam.com ̶ and created operating business units that generate client revenue in over 25 countries, I decided to undertake a new challenge and join the Taringa! management team. This is a project in full swing and with great prospects for regional expansion, with traffic growing at more than 140 million visits per month. It’s a successful company that has managed to keep increasing its traffic in a context where many other social products fought unsuccessfully to hold on to their audiences after Facebook’s sweeping entry across the region and the world.
Portada: What part of Fnbox still exists today?
Damián Molina: It would be better to let Fnbox answer that question. I no longer represent them and it wouldn’t be professional to give out information that perhaps is no longer current.
Portada: What are your most valued experiences at FnBox, what did you learn there and what would you do differently?
Damián Molina: I learned a lot at FnBox, thanks to many successes and mistakes. I had to open up new markets with different products, face giant competitors with huge capital from outside the region, launch and market social marketing products during the most important and dynamic stage in the history of social communication on the Internet ̶ as the last six years have been ̶ , and amidst different competing social platforms like Sonic, Facebook, Hi5, MySpace, Taringa!, Twitter, and others.
I learned that the most important thing to remaining and growing in this industry is to keep talented elite teams led by restless, bold, and creative entrepreneurs and managers.
With economies that are somewhat more predictable and stable, more successful products in Latin American may emerge such as Taringa! and MercadoLibre, the two largest sites in the world that were born in the region.
Portada: What strategy do you have planned for entering the pan-regional/Miami markets?
Damián Molina: Starting up operations in Mexico will be our first step, in order to penetrate the largest Spanish-speaking market in the region. According to data provided by IAB Mexico’s advertising spending study, the country attracted close to $500K in ad spending in 2012. We plan to enter the market with Taringa!’s mobile and web products, along with Zeti, our Premium Clicks platform featuring Intelligent Segmentation, which is an alternative to Adwords.
Mexico represents 18% of our web traffic and is our No.1 market for mobile traffic.
We also plan to soon launch our new Taringa! version for mobile and app for Android, and are evaluating launching it from that market. We are interviewing professionals and assembling the team that will launch a sales operation mainly focused on ad sales to agencies and media buying companies, which represent 65% of online ad spending, and to direct customers to cover the remaining 35%.
- Miami is a market we are evaluating with great interest, because its strategic position would allow us to supply the pan-regional and U.S. Hispanic markets. We have found that 25% of Hispanics online in the U.S. are Taringa! users. We are also looking for talent to join our local sales team.
- After these two markets, we will target Colombia (8% of traffic) and Spain (9% of traffic), where we have masses of audiences and advertisers that are now being served from Argentina, where our headquarter office is based.
Portada: What is your strategy for entering the U.S. Hispanic market?
Damián Molina: We are in the process of defining our U.S. entry strategy and evaluating our options.