U.S. Hispanics have flocked to the internet, but with few Hispanic online-advertising networks and little Spanish-language search advertising, they're not as easy for advertisers to target as non-Hispanics.
Hoping to change that, Hispanic music site Batanga just made the first deal to acquire Latino ad network HispanoClick.
"We hear [advertisers'] need for a more performance-based vehicle," said Rafael Urbina, Batanga's chairman-CEO. "Their frustrations are that it's very difficult to reach a large enough number of people online, and [there are] limited tools for what we can do ... in behavioral targeting and search."
Half of Hispanics
Working with 800 Spanish-language publishers, HispanoClick reaches 5.6 million U.S. internet users per month, according to ComScore. Combined with Batanga's existing users, the audience will total more than 8 million, about half the number of U.S. Hispanics online.
The general market has seen big deals to buy online-ad networks, like WPP Group's acquisition of 24/7 RealMedia and Yahoo's purchase of Blue Lithium. That could be the next trend in the U.S. Hispanic market, where online ad networks are starting to appear and Hispanic portals are likely to snap them up. Besides HispanoClick, there's Prisma Digital Media, started in November 2007 by Latincube, the Miami-based holding company for digital shop Latin3; and venture capitalist-backed Consorte in San Francisco. Even HispanoClick is barely 2 years old, and the small company was started, oddly enough, in Montreal by a French-Canadian named Marc Duquette and his Dominican-born wife, Ana Maria De La Cruz.
Some Hispanic portals, such as AOL Latino and MSN Latino, are part of general-market portals that have their own online-ad networks, such as AOL's Advertising.com, which includes some Hispanic sites.
Many of HispanoClick's 800 publishers are based in Latin America, but by using geo-targeting, advertisers can buy the U.S. Hispanics visiting those sites.
"Hispanic has been one segment," said Rick Marroquin, the former head of McDonald's Hispanic marketing, who joined Batanga a year ago as the company's first chief marketing officer. "You need the critical mass. It's hard to slice and dice an audience of 1 or 2 million."
The Hispanic market is dominated by a few large portals, followed by smaller, growth-seeking niche sites such as Batanga and ImpreMedia. (ImpreMedia is building the biggest network of Spanish-language Hispanic newspapers and reaches more than 2 million Hispanics online each month through the websites of its 10 publications.)
"The lion's share of impressions go to the big five -- Univision.com, Yahoo en Español, MSN Latino, AOL en Español and Terra," said Alberto Ferrer, managing partner-director of direct and digital marketing at Vidal Partnership, New York. "It's much less fragmented than the general market."
Search still tiny
Mr. Ferrer said he hopes a combination like that of Batanga with its own online-ad network will enable him to place brand advertising and get more direct-response, performance-oriented results with lower cost-per-thousand viewers and higher reach.
No one measures the size of the Hispanic online market, but Mr. Ferrer said the best estimates for 2007 range from $150 million to $200 million. That's mainly display advertising.
"The sad reality is most Hispanics search on general-market search engines, and they search in English," he said. "When we try to buy key words [in Spanish], the general-market agency has already bought them [in English]. When we've done search for our client Century 21, we couldn't even spend the money."