New sites aim beyond h&ba to reach Latinas

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New web sites are competing for the attention of Hispanic women, a highly coveted group.

Many of the new Latina-targeted sites, such as Spanish-language portal Yupi.com's Mujerfutura.com, which launched last month, and Soloella.com, scheduled to be operational by the end of this month, focus primarily on home, family, beauty and health.

These content areas might be especially attractive to household- and beauty-product marketers, who already have identified Hispanic women as a target.

Hispanic women "are the critical gatekeepers, making about 75% of the purchasing decisions" about these products, said Monica Gadsby, senior VP of Hispanic media at Chicago-based Leo Burnett Co.'s Starcom USA.

P&G CLICKS WITH YUPI

Procter & Gamble Co., which is partnering with Yupi to put its Avanzando con tu familia online, believes it can use the Web to leverage its leadership in the consumer-products industry.

"The Internet will allow us to connect with Hispanic women in a one-to-one, more personal way that is tailored to individual needs and is culturally relevant," said Graciela Eleta, general manager of P&G's Multicultural Marketing Development Organization.

TAKING A RISK

It is too soon to tell whether marketers will advertise on the new sites, which face the same obstacles as other dot-coms -- such as inconclusive user data.

"It's the [medium] we know least about," said Ms. Gadsby, and therefore requires "risk-taking" on the part of marketers. But she says she thinks acting now will pay off later. "A lot of advertisers out there know the opportunity but are not ready to do it until there's more information."

Marketers outside the home and beauty categories also might find a place on the Web at sites such as Eviva.net, which will focus on business, career and technology issues for "the new Latina," said co-founder Aliza Sherman, former president and founder of Internet company Cybergrrl.

CNA TRIES EVIVA.NET

Eviva.net, expected to launch by July, already has been approached by interested advertisers beyond the h&ba and package goods categories. CNA Life, a division of CNA Financial Corp., is discussing advertising opportunities with Eviva.net to extend its online marketing beyond the broader Hispanic, Asian and general-market sites on which it already advertises.

CNA was drawn to Eviva's specific focus on professional Latinas, said Brad Bahr, assistant VP-business expansion at CNA Life.

The site "offers a unique opportunity for a portion of that marketplace that no one has really tapped," he said. "Eviva really hit a hot button with us because it was [Hispanic] women, with a focus on the business side of things. It's a market we want to reach with our products."

Amy Ormond, co-founder of Eviva.net, said the provider is discussing creative packages with CNA that go beyond banner ads to include online and offline sponsorships and market research initiatives.

TOUTING THE SITES

More than 2,900 users registered on Mujerfutura.com in its first two weeks, said Damaris Valero, senior-VP, global sales and development at Yupi. This response, coupled with its position within the Yupi network of Spanish-language sites, which are already advertiser-supported, are positive signs for potential advertisers.

"This is a category that needs attention," Ms. Valero said.

Although all of the start-ups plan to use some form of traditional media, such as localized print or broadcast, most agree that grass roots marketing is initially the most cost-effective way to drive traffic to their sites.

"We definitely understand that you have to be very creative to get our audience," said Ada Diaz Ahmed, president of Soloella.com, which formed the Community Partnership Program with 11 Hispanic organizations in the U.S. to reach their common audience.

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