AOL Latino has had a very busy start to 2011: first we reported about Ford’s interest in renewing its agreement with AOL to produce the Tu Voz en Tu Vida website; last week AOL announced the acquisition of the Huffingston Post; and this week AOL Latino announced the relaunch of its website, and its new franchises and functionalities. About the relaunch, Portada interviewed Miguel Ferrer (photo), Director of AOL Latino.
Portada: How would you describe the new AOL Latino?
Miguel Ferrer: "The new AOL Latino is 100% geared towards connecting with the dynamic audience by engaging with them on equal footing – we are all part of the Hispanic community – and empowering the rise and proliferation of our authentic Hispanic voices and views across the internet."
Portada: What is the motivation behind this relaunch?
Miguel Ferrer: "The Hispanic market in the U.S. is booming in ways that signal fundamental change to the very fabric and future of the United States.
– Fast growing: 1 in 6 US residents is Hispanic; grew to 50MM (+40%) since 2000.
– Young: 1 in 5 US students K-12 are Hispanic; 33% of all Hispanics are under the age of 18.
– Growing families: 25% of all children born in the U.S. are born to a Hispanic mother.
– Are online: 60% penetration (30MM); online is where 64% Hispanics turn to to keep up with current events (vs. 51% general market).
– Are mobile: Hispanics overindex vs. non-Hispanic whites in mobile usage across the board, particularly in internet access (43% vs. 25%) and mobile video (16% vs. 7%).
– Are consumers: Purchasing power reaching $1 trillion, with internet activity informing their purchases (79% make final decision online vs. 72% general market).
But most significantly, research and professional experience tell us that Hispanics seek and reward cultural relevancy – emotional connectivity – in their online content and experiences."
Portada: Can you describe who leads editorial at AOL Latino, where are most of the editorial members? (NYC, Miami, Mexico)
Miguel Ferrer: "Editorial at AOL Latino is led from AOL's NYC office by me. We have editors in NYC, Miami and Mexico City, as well as contributors in numerous cities in the US, Mexico, Argentina and Chile."
Portada: What is being done to address assimilated – acculturated Hispanics?
Miguel Ferrer: "Our belief is that the themes of highest importance to Hispanics are essentially common across acculturation levels. Hispanics of all levels are deeply impacted by national issues such as education, health care, nutrition, urban violence, and more. Regardless of acculturation levels, Hispanics have affinities with great sports stories, with surprising Hollywood news, with food and music that directly connects us with our heritage. The key is to present the issues of importance from the most authentic and grounded Hispanic perspective.
In addition, we reject the belief that assimilation is a one-way street. Non-Hispanic US residents are assimilating elements of Hispanic culture just as Hispanics assimilate elements of non-Hispanic culture as well. The end result is, to quote Guy García, a new mainstream. This is the dynamic we are interested in."
Portada: Which are the main features at the new AOL Latino?
Miguel Ferrer: – "'Soy Latino cuando…,' our signature video franchise, inviting notables to share an anecdote about a moment in their day or life when they feel their innate Hispanic-ness.
– Highlighting the person/author of the content we promote, signaling that the content comes from the US Hispanic community.
– The Iconos channel, listing 100 Hispanic notables who's achievements we should celebrate and emulate.
– "Nuestras voces", our growing community video-blogger network which provides local perspectives on national issues.
– The "Siguiendo a…" module which allows users to follow top news from the countries and cities of origin of US Hispanics.
– "Lo más compartido" module, which surfaces AOL Latino content trending across Facebook.
– A cause marketing module which will extend to all channel main pages, affirming AOL Latino's active support of those who are helping Hispanics."
Portada: Does AOL Latino have traffic from Latin America, does it have Latin editions?
Miguel Ferrer: "Yes, we do receive audiences from Latin America but no, we do not have websites specifically oriented to specific geographies in Latin America."