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Q&A with ClickDiario

The internet is everywhere, and therefore so is advertising. But while the underlying technology is often the same or quite similar, advertising strategies can change when you cross a national border. How consumers in the United States engage with the internet and with advertising on the internet is different than elsewhere.

In November of 2005, Spanish-language ad network ClickDiario (a subsidiary of .

Curious about how a Spanish-language ad network differs from its English-language counterparts, I reached out to ClickDiario and had a chat with Jacques Hart, ClickDiario's vice president of sales and head of business development.

Brad Berens: I have a good sense of how the media habits of English-speaking Americans have been changing over the last months and years, but I'm curious about the points of contact and divergence with the media habits of Spanish-speaking Americans (North, Central and South). Are blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts and social networking as big a deal among the Spanish-speaking techies as they are among English speakers?

Jacques Hart: Internet usage among Latin American and Spanish-speaking audiences is gaining significant momentum. At the forefront of this growth are consortiums comprised of large retail companies and governmental bodies who offer consumers discounted computer and internet service, giving consumers access to this medium that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive for them. In many cases, they are also leap-frogging dial-up and going right to broadband connections.

To that end, the internet market among Spanish-speakers is estimated to be 80 million plus and growing fast. As the market matures, the use of blogs and social networking has become popular in this segment; however, they have not embraced RSS feeds and podcasting as rapidly. These latter programs tend to become more popular as the market matures and more users adopt high-speed broadband connections.

Berens: It sometimes seems like there's an ad network born every minute. What's your sense of the playing field right now? Why are networks proliferating? More importantly, how should advertisers and media planners adjudicate among so many networks?

Hart: Ad networks are proliferating to keep up with the demand from publishers and advertisers for their services.

For instance, many website proprietors and executives want to solely dedicate themselves to their content and do not want to be actively involved in sales. Simply put, they are subject matter experts and their passion is content and editorial versus sales and commercialization. Ad networks can quickly help them monetize their properties, enabling them to focus on their content.

Conversely, advertisers -- both direct clients and agencies -- are asking for help to find the best distribution for their marketing messages. They cannot afford to sift through thousands of sites and negotiate terms with each one of them. Ad networks play a critical role in providing them significant, yet targeted distribution in one media buy.

Advertisers and media planners need to balance the size and reach of the network with both the customer service and creditability. Aligning advertisers with networks that have strong distribution can offer economies of scale; however, in many cases, the network's growth feeds bureaucracy which can impede their customer service. Additionally, the code of ethics and credibility is important when selecting a network.

ClickDiario is large enough (delivering over one billion impressions in November) to offer clients tremendous reach and distribution. We also own and operate some of the most popular Spanish-language sites, giving us greater control and flexibility of our product offering. ClickDiario also delivers tremendous local reach, with offices in the major countries that we serve. As such, we can offer a high level of local service and knowledge to our advertiser and publisher partners.

Berens: On the surface, it would seem that ClickDiario is positioning itself as a contextual network for Spanish speakers, but it's ridiculous to think of all Spanish speakers as one demographic -- the economic, geographical and cultural range is simply enormous. Both within the ClickDiario network and in general, how should marketers segment and target with this population? Are there different things to bear in mind when targeting Spanish-speakers than English-speakers? And, how would you concretely characterize the range in question?

Hart: Our strategy is to own major vertical markets, rather than compete in the overly cluttered portal and horizontal sites. In doing so, we believe the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. As such, we have invested heavily in popular URLs and sites like Deportes.com, Mujer.com, Salud.com. As far as cultural differences and segmentation, our advertisers benefit from our advanced ad-serving technology.

We offer contextual, day parting and geo-targeting. For instance, a large telecommunications company in Mexico driving cell-phone sales is not interested in reaching consumers in Argentina. Similarly, we can offer fast food restaurants the ability to display their advertisements before the lunch period to stimulate demand for the mid-day sales.

A combination of online display ads, email, search, rich media and behavioral products enables our advertising base to segment our audience and reach their specific target.

Berens: Many people seeing ads on the ClickDiario network will speak English as well as Spanish: is there anything to bear in mind when dealing with bilingual visitors?

Hart: According to comScore/MediaMetrix, 80 percent of the U.S. Hispanics prefer to read their content in Spanish language. Additionally, we know that the majority of our U.S. audience is bilingual. As we cater to their roots and language preference by offering them Spanish-language content and advertising, we see unusually high clickthrough and conversion rates.

Berens: Let's talk more about Behavioral Targeting. What is the same and what is different about BT on ClickDiario versus other ad networks?

Hart: We have developed and deploy our own behavioral targeting toolbar called barrita.com with different functionalities such as search, pop blocker, anti virus, et cetera. Our toolbar allows us to track user behaviors and display targeted ads. While mechanical behavioral targeting is important, we also believe in the importance of human intelligence. We on the other hand, invest tremendous resources in using a combination of technology and strategy to optimize our campaigns and see strong conversions as a result.

Berens: Would you consider ClickDiario the Spanish-speaking Advertising.com, BURST!, Gawker... or something else? Who is your closest counterpart?

Hart: We have no significant Pan Regional competitors. Publishers are solely focused on their sites and ad networks have either not acquired the mass or established the local presence that we have. Furthermore, as we both operate and represent leading sites, we can offer unique solutions that others cannot. We are extremely flexible and innovative, oftentimes offering our clients unique, out-of-the-box marketing opportunities such as exclusive partnerships and integrated content. We also offer diverse revenue models from CPM to CPA. Lastly, we are distinguished in that we have offices in Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, Spain and Miami enabling us to provide a high quality of local service and knowledge. We invite more competition; we will push the limits and raise the bar that much higher.

Brad Berens is executive editor for iMedia Communications.

A trusted advisor to companies of all sizes and a respected voice within the interactive media industry, Dr. Brad Berens has enjoyed a wide-ranging career that features storytelling as an organizing theme. These days, he divides his time among...

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