Portada interviewed Nicolas Berman (photo), Vice President of Advertising for MercadoLibre, about e-commerce and the development and presence of MercadoLibre in the region.

Portada: In which countries in the region are you present? Do you plan to expand to other countries?

Nicolás Berman: "We are present in 12 Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela). MercadoLibre is the number one platform for Internet purchases and sales in terms of unique visitors in each of the countries we operate in, and are ranked eighth worldwide, according to ComScore metrics. Our priority at this time is to strengthen our position as market leaders in the countries we’re in."

Portada: What advertising platforms and forms does MercadoLibre offer? Who are your main advertisers?

Nicolás Berman: "Today, MercadoLibre is the most widely consulted vertical search engine for products and services in the region, with over 1,000 searches per second.

Through search and branding strategies, companies can advertise on MercadoLibre in ways that generate targeted traffic to their sites and/or position their brands and products in front of millions of people.

Brands that advertise on MercadoLibre include Sony Style, Nokia, Dell, HP, Santander, The Home Depot, HSBC, Banamex, MasterCard, Bridgestone, Telmex, Telcel, GM, Ford, Epson, Mabe, and Liverpool, among other segment leading brands. MercadoLibre also counts leading media and advertising agencies among its clients, who use our site as an indispensable tool in mapping media strategy for their most important customers."

Portada: How would you define MercadoLibre’s business strategy in the advertising arena? Is it defined regionally or locally for each market?

Nicolás Berman: "Within the company, our philosophy is to think regionally, to work toward growing MercadoLibre globally, and to take the whole company into consideration when making all important decisions.  However, these decisions are tailored to the needs and demands of each market.  For example, a few years ago, we changed our business strategy in the advertising area to adjust it to our clients’ needs, moving from the display model (banners) to a performance model similar to that of search engines, called MercadoClics. With this change, we can provide our users with relevant information according to their searches and this enabled us to increase our advertising revenues by 209% in the first half of 2011.  Currently, text and link advertising represents 60% of MercadoLibre's advertising business.

In terms of advertising created by MercadoLibre, we follow the same line? we aim to globally position the company, but we do it through local media.  To publicize the platform we use both online and offline channels.  On the Internet, we advertise through banners on major websites and in traditional media we place ads on some cable TV channels."

Portada: What is your opinion regarding the e-commerce market in Latin America? What are its most prominent features and what should be improved?

Nicolás Berman: "In the region, both Internet and electronic commerce have grown in a continuous and rapid fashion. When MercadoLibre launched in 1999, Internet penetration in Latin America was 3% and e-commerce represented only 10% of that figure, which is equivalent to 1.5 million people throughout the entire region.  Today, web penetration is 40% and people involved in e-commerce amount to 33% of Internet users, or nearly 70 million people.

For e-commerce to continue to grow in the region, it’s important that all players work on developing the channels used, along with the usability of the buy and sell websites, and methods of delivery and payment."

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