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Marketers like Manny Gonzalez are why online Hispanic advertising will take another huge leap this year.

In February, Johnnie Walker banner ads will appear on Yahoo and Yahoo en Espanol, the first time the Diageo brand has ever advertised online. Driven by Diageo's Hispanic marketing initiative, the goal is to reach acculturated Hispanics who may be surfing the Web in English or Spanish.

"It's clear that without a lot of media options, acculturated Hispanics are turning to the Internet for news, information and entertainment," says Mr. Gonzalez, senior brand manager-scotch for Diageo North America. "Without the capability of identifying Hispanic users, and that they are 21, we wouldn't be doing this. The other major motivating factor is that the Internet usage rate among Hispanics is growing faster than for the general market."

Yahoo can track users' behavior and see if they are visiting Spanish-language properties, says Liz Sarachek, executive director-sales for Yahoo's Hispanic effort. "We're able to target Hispanics in either language," she says. "It's based on behavior. Younger Hispanics are often bilingual and live in two worlds."

Mr. Gonzalez says the same ad will run on both Yahoo and Yahoo en Espanol. Johnnie Walker ads have little copy beyond the brand name and the global tagline "Keep on walking," which is never translated.

"There's a heavy focus on bilingualism," says Peter Blacker, VP-multicultural and international at AOL Media Networks and chairman of the Internet Advertising Bureau's Hispanic committee. "This will probably be the single biggest trend in 2005. It's about cultural identity, not linguistic choice."

He says creative can be changed to reflect users surfing in Spanish from home but using the Internet in English at work. And geo-targeting can be done by city in different languages. For instance, a Jeep ad around the Latin Grammy awards may get a better click-through rate in the English version in the New York tri-state area, but in California, the Spanish-language version might do better, he says.

That's not to say there isn't demand for more Spanish-language content that will attract users and advertisers. Yahoo en Espanol is partnering with Fox Sports en Espanol to create Spanish-language fantasy league games, based on two soccer leagues, Superliga Mexicana and Superliga Copa Libertadores. The site includes streaming video and polls. One poll, for instance, was designed to find out which athletes were the most popular for a marketer looking for a spokesman, Ms. Sarachek says.

As ad spending on Hispanic online climbs to an estimated $100 million this year from $75 million in 2004, agencies are paying more attention to a medium that brought in just $10 million in 2002. Marketers and Hispanic Web site executives say the savviest shops for Hispanic online are Starcom MediaVest's multicultural unit Tapestry, part of Publicis Groupe, and two independent Hispanic shops, Miami-based independent Zubi Advertising, which recently started a digital division, and the Vidal Partnership, New York. Alberto Ferrer joined Vidal last year as VP-director of online and direct marketing, and says the agency is looking to add seven more people to its digital and direct unit.

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