Closing the Digital Gap

How internet advertising differs across the Americas

How internet advertising differs across the Americas

By Doreen Hemlock

As CEO of Numatec, a Miami-based digital marketing group active in 25 nations, Giuliano Stiglitz keeps up with trends in online advertising and how they differ across borders. He sees growth in Latin America this year in “retail media,” where a retailer like Marriott hosts ads on its website or app for other companies targeting the same customer – say, ads for car rentals for someone booking a hotel room.

Born in Rome and educated across Europe, Stiglitz has two decades of experience in digital marketing. He worked at Orange, a telecomm corporation in France, and, with colleagues, bought out its digital ad unit for the Americas. His team built up that venture and sold it to Spain’s Prisa. In 2013, he and his partners formed Numatec, named for New Marketing Technology. Today, their holding company owns some two dozen ventures, employing 300 people mainly across the Americas. Its Miami headquarters employs 15.

Numatec specializes in buying and optimizing ad space on digital platforms, including search engines like Google, social media apps like Instagram, and e-commerce sites like Amazon. It also sells software created by others, so that Numatec’s clients – mainly big ad agencies – can similarly check the effectiveness of ads by tracking such variables as clicks and sales. Its revenues were roughly $50 million in 2022, Stiglitz says.

Here’s an edited version of our chat with Stiglitz, 46, who has lived in Miami for 14 years and who speaks fluent Italian, Spanish, and English, plus some French and German.

How does digital marketing in Latin America differ from the US?

The market in Latin America hasn’t reached the level of sophistication and maturity it has in the US. There’s still a fair amount of education required. In the U.S., there are fewer questions about why you should do certain things on the internet and conversation starts around how well you can perform.

But Latin America is moving fast toward the U.S. in terms of digital marketing by brands. It’s probably somewhere between today and five years ago, depending on the segment. Some clients and agencies are on par with the U.S., yet ads in some media lag. E-commerce is quite far behind, partly because of logistical infrastructure. Latin America has a lot of small markets, with different currencies and large parts of the population unbanked, so those conditions are not favorable for e-commerce.

Mobile devices differ. Android is by far the largest operating system in Latin America, while iPhone is big in the U.S. Android is more advertiser-friendly and flexible – partly because it’s owned by a digital marketing company, which is Google. With Android, you can deliver more personalized, geo-targeted ads. Apple is stricter about what you can track and deliver on its iOS system.

There’s a big difference in TV, too. In the U.S., most TVs are connected to the internet, so digital ads have become the largest share of U.S. ad spending. In Latin America, penetration of smart TVs is very small, and traditional TV still gets the biggest share of ad spending regionwide.

How does digital marketing differ among countries in Latin America?

The two largest markets, Mexico and Brazil, typically attract best-in-class companies that want to move into Latin America from the U.S. I see the greatest opportunity for Numatec in smaller markets, where we can bring in state-of the-art technology.

Each country is really disconnected from the others in terms of currency, laws, administration, bank accounts… so that forces marketing companies to have a presence in each nation. And local people in-market prefer to do business with local people. The lack of sophistication in small markets also means you need to provide education, good service, and be close to your clients in that country.

There are cultural nuances, too. Mexico, for example, is more formal and has a bit more hierarchy. Direct communication may be interpreted as rude there. Argentina is less formal and more direct.

What trends do you see in digital advertising in Latin America in 2023?

We’ll see more “retail media,” which has been a big trend in the US since 2021. Retailers like Walmart and Uber have a lot of traffic on their websites and apps, and they’re offering space for ads to others. So, you’re on the Uber app, and you see an ad for a hotel or tour. Retail media is an environment rich in data and a real opportunity for e-marketers, especially now that Google is phasing out cookies.

Anything related to apps will also grow, whether its financial institutions creating new products, e-commerce sites, or delivery services. For 2023, I’ve seen forecasts for spending on internet ads in Latin America rise nearly 14 per

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