Batanga Media CEO Rafael Urbina reveals secrets for creating meaningful relationships

Rafael Urbina, CEO, Batanga Media (photo: Patty Gonzalez)

You may or may not have heard of multicultural media agency Batanga Media, but chances are you’ve seen online content it has produced. Working with clients like Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Toyota, Target, Macy’s, and Kraft, Batanga has become the top lifestyle and entertainment digital publisher for the US Hispanic market, as well as for Mexico and Central and South America.

What makes the company’s approach unique is the sophistication of its data-driven path to content development and targeted advertising. As Batanga’s CEO, Rafael Urbina, describes it, “Our social media data and analytics provide real-time feedback that allow us to create and refine the dynamic content that drives consumer engagement. The combination of art and science is the secret sauce to our success.”

When Urbina set out to create Batanga, his goal was to utilize a new type of medium that would support audience-generated content. As social media and mobile technology evolved, so did company strategy. “We had to achieve a certain scale to fully leverage the analytics. Being able to do that is what enables us to gain consumers’ trust more easily,” he says.

Beyond tracking the number of clicks and shares, and determining if social media comments are positive or negative, Batanga’s proprietary algorithms have identified three characteristics of the content proven to be most interesting to consumers.  By (1) creating a personal connection, (2) piquing curiosity, and (3) providing inspiration, Batanga’s clients reach their consumer base more directly. Each path triggers an emotional response and momentum to act, according to Urbina.

He has been surprised by the universality of certain topics, even across languages. Health and beauty information, for example, would be expected to resonate, but a recent post about body art generated a massive response in multiple markets.

“The biggest segment of our audience—80 percent—is millennial. As the first generation to come of age in a digital environment, the millennial is the most responsive to themes that tap into deep emotional and inspirational issues,” Urbina says. He believes that understanding these dynamics is critical since they have profound implications, not just for content creators and advertisers, but also for society in general, and those responsible for shaping future laws and policies.

Keeping Up With the Tech Pace 

As little as five years ago, online advertising relied on browser searches to connect users to what they were looking for on the Internet. Today, social media is king. Urbina explains, “In the digital realm anyone can publish anything to any platform, so there’s no time for building an audience. You live or die on the strength of your content from day one.”

Mobile devices also have transformed how advertisers reach consumers. Although Latin American markets are currently experiencing only 50 percent smartphone penetration, Urbina expects they will soon match the 80 to 90 percent in US markets. Batanga already receives 80 to 90 percent of its online traffic from mobile devices.

As younger online users move to new locations and experience various life transitions, Urbina sees them turning to digital content for recipes, health information, and relationship advice that used to be given face-to-face or handed down from generation to generation.

“Digital content ends up filling certain social and relationship voids, so we try to make as much of a positive impact as we can. With mobile tools that can access information any time, that’s a powerful responsibility we take very seriously,” he says.

To illustrate, Urbina points to two projects that have  had positive impact. In Argentina, Batanga was involved in the Ni Una Menos campaign to raise awareness of violence against women. And in Brazil, the company’s local editorial staff wrote about their own personal experiences with
sexual abuse.

Growth and Expansion

Urbina predicts tremendous opportunities in several areas. As more and more users turn to mobile devices as their primary screen, the company is building its own video production facilities in numerous markets. “We’re creating a ‘video factory’ so that we can produce content on a massive scale that is customized to the unique requirements of different social platforms,” he says.

He also anticipates crossover into English language markets. “The Hispanic market is cross-cultural. You see its reach in food and music in markets worldwide. So if we create compelling content for bilingual audiences, I definitely expect us to have substantial cross-cultural impact in the very near future,” he says.