Even before it acquired The Huffington Post—and, by extension, new content boss Arianna Huffington—at least one of AOL’s sites was taking its cues from HuffPo.
Miguel Ferrer, director of AOL Latino, didn’t know AOL was going to buy HuffPo when he started working on the relaunch of his company’s Spanish-language portal a year ago, but he said he was inspired by the news and commentary site.
“We kept referring to The Huffington Post model because of its best practices,” he said. “The ability to raise voices [about issues] is something that’s totally hot.”
For instance, after the top story, the new homepage will have sections with local bloggers and stories that are trending on social networks. There also will be videos and tweets by Hispanic celebrities. AOL Latino is trying to make it easier for users to share content across their social networks, too.
The site also will fold in AOL’s 14 Hispanic verticals that previously had been freestanding, to encourage more traffic flow among them.
AOL Latino is trying to improve its traffic by targeting “bi-culturals”—Latinos who speak English and Spanish. Right now, with 3 million monthly uniques, per comScore, AOL Latino lags rivals like Univision and MSN.
Ferrer admitted the site’s U.S. traffic has been flat the past year; he said that’s because the site lost SEO traffic when it was revamped a year or so ago. At the same time, rivals have pulled ahead. “Univision, no doubt, they’ve been a formidable competitor,” he said. “MSN [Latino] did some smart things with Telemundo. That benefited both of them.”