If there is one thing Gonzalo Alonso is sure of, it is that search engine marketing is poised for growth in Latin America. As General Manager of Google Mexico, he asserts this belief in a fashion that leaves no room for doubt: "We will get there." Alonso expects the total Internet advertising to grow from $111 million to $337 million over the next few years.

His presentation, like many others, is reminiscent of early search evangelists' in the United States. Hard data points were balanced with case studies, such as that of Corpo Perfeito. One of the first AdWords clients in Latin America, Corpo Perfeito personally thanked Google in yes, a Google Video, for increasing business 50%.

If Alonso is Latin America's search engine marketing's cheerleader, Yahoo! is its coach. It is Guiherme Ribenboim's job to educate and proselytize advertisers and their agencies, which the firm has deftly segmented according to varying levels of sophistication. Yahoo! proudly notes that it has over 500 million keywords appearing in its Latin American network and that its most successful advertisers run between 1 and 50,000 keywords. Ribenboim also reminded the audience that his firm has recently merged with Telemundo, the Spanish-language broadcast powerhouse.

Finally, Maria Teresa Arnal represented Prodigy/MSN, which is undoubtedly in an awkward position. Given that the software giant only recently launched its U.S. AdCenter platform for search, the MSN-Yahoo! relationship still endures in Mexico.

To compensate, Arnal focused on the fact that "the game is just beginning" and shared colorful online data that clearly outline unique attributes of her audience. For example, keyword queries in Mexico tend to be single words, and the peak time is 10am to 4pm, suggestive of the importance of workplace access to the web. This point is reiterated by the fact that search queries drop 50% on weekends. Ending on a hopeful point, MSN does aim to launch AdCenter for Spanish-speaking markets in 2007.

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