Hispanic Agency Adds Interactive Unit

Hispanic advertising agency Lopez Negrete, which counts Wal-Mart Stores, Bank of America and Microsoft among its clients, has hired a Beyond Interactive veteran to head a new interactive department.

Moses Robles, a former VP of account services at Beyond, is heading the unit and working to hire employees to build it out. Besides assessing the department’s staffing needs, Robles says his main job will be educating the agency’s clients on how to reach Hispanics online.

“U.S. Hispanics trust the Internet as an information source. They want content in Spanish. They want to engage in Spanish. They’re with the curve in terms of being connected on broadband,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting our clients to understand that.”

While online publishers have been fairly aggressive in embracing the U.S. Hispanic market, Yahoo, America Online, Univision and Terra Lycos have all made plays for the audience, interactive agencies have been slower to dedicate personnel to the market niche. Robles cites the growth of the Hispanic population and word the demographic group is adopting broadband as factors behind the agency’s move into the space.

“It’s a growing segment. It’s probably the fastest growing segment in terms of growth potential in the marketplace,” he said.

Yet Robles characterizes the Hispanic online media world as lagging behind the general market, partly because agencies don’t yet have the expertise to drive a hard bargain with publishers.

“It’s really like back in ’97 and ’98, when everything was CPM and rates were inflated,” said Robles. “Right now, on the Hispanic side, everything is back to CPM. They [publishers] don’t want to talk about cost-per-click. It’s going to take a lot of education.”

Robles says around half of the fledgling interactive unit’s workload involves building Spanish-language Web sites and microsites for clients, while 30 to 40 percent of the work involves media buying.

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