Learning LatAm By Osmosis: Three Different Sermons for the Price of One!

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Each ad:tech Miami session I've seen follows the same painful format: a moderator introduces himself, then steps aside as each panelist gives a mini-presentation.

It's like watching antsy children read book reports out loud. But unlike their grade school counterparts, each presenter stretches his time allotment as long as possible.

This afternoon I livetweeted ad:tech Miami's Social Media and Consumer Generated Content in Latin America: Exploring the Value Proposition.

Here is a synopsis of what each panelist had to say, taking into account the following three generalities:

- Latin Americans (LatAm) are social people. Possibly more social than the rest of the world. (This struck me as more of a cultural conceit than a verifiable fact, but nobody in the audience contested the stance. Possibly because they were all either of Latin origin, or very eager to cozy up to those of Latin origin.)

- User-centricity is the new fetish. Each panelist cited his company's user focus at outset. (Anton Chalbaud, pictured at left, emphasized Sonico's user-centricity by attesting to his company's "INSANE" focus on real people.) Gone are the days when a quick buck, whatever the means, was a virtue.

- Mastering the elusive art of interactive media, especially digital, is considered crucial to taming the LatAm audience. (Especially now.) As Lucas Morea put it, "The audience is receptive." Marketers should teach users how to create and publish content.

Now. On to the meat of the matter.

LUCAS MOREA, CEO, Latin Edge, Inc.

Content and users perpetuate one another. Content leads to users and users lead to content: profile data, blogs, messages, comments, or photos. A site focused on static content is 1.0; user-manipulated content is 2.0.

Morea's website, monografias, has 50,000 content pages across 40 categories. The most-viewed page has over 138,808 visits; the least viewed, merely 1. He admonished us to keep the longtail in mind. Then he paused. "Marketers hear that word at a lot of conferences lately," he said. And being by nature a thoughtful man, he defined "longtail" for us:

Longtail: n. The theory that the sum of the consumption of all unpopular content is equal to, or greater than, the sum of consumption of the top 30.

Then he passed us a few useful stats on the Latin-American internet user:

- 20-40% of them have been online for less than 2 years
- Many have been able to skip dial-up and go straight to broadband (a sign of times a-changin')
- 43% of internet users value their online world just as much as their "real" one
- Audience members are receptive. A brand opportunity lies in teaching them how to become content-creators.

"Don't just facilitate; teach them how to do it!" he preached. "Such a branding/business opportunity."

God bless you, Lucas Morea.

ANTON CHALBAUD, Chief Revenue Officer, Sonico

There are three key issues in social media advertising: What is my brand? What about CTR? What are my banner opportunities?

I had trouble following Chalbaud's train of thought. With regard to maintaining brand integrity on social media, he said contextual advertising needs to be improved. "I know a lot of you out there don't want your brand next to a naked boy," he teased the audience. "You laugh, but it happens."

While discussing click-thru on social media banners: "Users can show who they are by the brands they use. When I wear this watch, I'm telling you something about me. Same idea with banners."

Um ... all right.

Of value: he mentioned an "unintrusive" online video format being tested in Latin America. The ad appears as a bar above the video, like a Windows title bar. "Very good click-thru ratio," Chalbaud said. "We have had success with it in Latin America, maybe you in the United States should try it."

He closed his presentation with a very strange statistic: Online ad budgets are increasing across Latin America. But in Mexico, and according to the IAB, they are approaching 100%.

JUAN PABLO GNECCO, Founder and CEO, Studiocom

"How can the brand facilitate, or take advantage of something positive going on between users?" Gnecco asked. Crickets in the audience.

No worries; we were in the midst of an excellent speaker. He managed to answer this question, or at least show us how Studiocom did it, with one sound example.

He began by observing that commuters traveling alone always look serious and somber. (Sorta like this guy.) But when a person they know approaches, they brighten and reanimate. Brands can light those human sparks by creating outlets for developing relationships.

"Coca-Cola came to us and said, 'We want to connect Coca-Cola to teenagers,'" Gnecco began. But teenagers, when asked, associated Coke's brand with money and big business. Studiocom contemplated this, then came up with MyCoke: a virtual world where you can build an avatar and make your own beats.

"But what good is making your own music if you can't share it?" he asked playfully. Teens were then empowered to "play" their music in public spaces within the virtual world: at Subway stations, on another continent, or in their own studios. Nearby listeners could comment on their music. And if they liked what they heard, they could give the musician points.

Musicians were also invited to create personal studios and throw parties there. One million personal studios were created; and across that number, eight million pieces of furniture were sold.

"There was very little branding at first, because teens said they didn't want Coke in their faces," he said soberly. But Coke-branded furniture -- including vending machines -- sold the most often because they were the most expensive. And parties always included a few crates of Coke.

"Kids were crazy about [generating] points ... and buying Coke was the easiest way to get a lot," he explained.

As a result, MyCoke evolved from a summer promotion to a six-year effort. Ka-ching! for Coke, I guess.

Gnecco closed with a quick mention of BarbieGirls.com, whose objective -- to sell USB music devices -- wasn't well-met with the MyCoke model. It turns out BarbieGirls.com fared better with paid subscriptions.

And then there were facts:

The current global online population is divided thus:

- North America: 246.4 million out of 334 million.
- Latin Americans: 137.3 million out of 552 million.
- Rest of world: 1,024,022,037 (72.7% of the estimated total.)

Social networks in LatAm grew 103% last year. In LatAm alone, Facebook users bloomed from 52,000 to 2.2 million between 2007 and 2008.

Chew on that. Though I suppose Gnecco's talk, which was virtual world-focused, wasn't terribly helpful in terms of strategy. Philosophically, though, A+.

by Angela Natividad    Jun- 4-08   Click to Comment   
Topic: Industry Events   

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