"We haven't done a lot of projects such as this for the Hispanic audience, or partnered with Univision," said Cingular's Greg Roberts, director of marketing and national promotions. "It exceeded my expectations."
U.S. Hispanic portals are stepping up their marketing and sales efforts to agencies and clients, for whom Hispanic online is still often a market.
AOL started AOL Latino in September 2001, but only last month created a U.S. Hispanic interactive-marketing unit, headed by VP Peter Blacker (AA, July 22), who previously focused on ad sales for AOL Latin America. He is assembling a team now and expects to name a U.S. Hispanic agency this year.
"AOL almost became one of the leading portals with Hispanics by default, by carpet bombing the market with CDs," said Roberto Siewczynski, an account director at Dallas-based Dieste Harmel & Partners, partly owned by Omnicom Group. "Hispanics get AOL because their friends and families do."
Personal-finance channel in works
Like Mr. Blacker, Liz Sarachek, Yahoo en espanol's executive director-sales, U.S. Hispanic and Latin America, started with a Latin American sales job that this year has become almost entirely U.S. Hispanic-focused. Yahoo en espanol started an auto channel in June, with State Farm as the first sponsor, and will add a personal-finance channel later this summer, Ms. Sarachek said.
Microsoft Corp. bought Yupi, a struggling regional Spanish-language portal, in June 2001 to expand into the U.S. Hispanic market. Now called Yupi MSN, the portal has added two new U.S. Hispanic sales executives in the last three months, bringing the team to seven.
Internet portals "are all having problems in the general market," said Cynthia Nelson-Garcia, a management consultant and CEO of Communita, a Miami-based company offering marketing services. "They're all looking for money wherever they can find it, and this is an untapped area."
No reliable figures exist for Hispanic online ad spending, but agency executives predict the market will be worth between $30 million and $40 million this year.
Ms. Nelson-Garcia is organizing a four-city portal tour kicking off Aug. 20 with the main Spanish-language U.S. Hispanic portals jointly presenting the online market to Hispanic agency executives in a series of breakfast meetings in Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Dallas. The portals are also fielding a panel of their most online-savvy clients at the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies' conference in Miami in September.
Surfing through AOL Latino, Terra.com, Univision.com, Yahoo en Espanol and Yupi MSN, online users can order a free sample of Merck & Co.'s Pepcid AC, get entertainment information from the SABMiller's Miller Time Network, participate in Anheuser-Busch Co.'s Budweiser-sponsored sports poll, or join the U.S. Army.
In one MasterCard International promotion raffling off tickets to attend the World Cup in Japan and Hong Kong, more than 50% of the entries came through the Internet, said Roberto Ruiz, a partner at The Vidal Partnership, New York.
"Now almost everything we do has an interactive component," he said. "But it may not be executed for budget reasons."