News Column

Social Network Pulling an 'American Idol': is Voting Hub for International Singing Contest

June 17, 2009

Suzanne, battle of the americas's user base continues to grow at an impressive clip, but that's no reason for the Web site to sit on its laurels. The Hispanic-focused social networking site recently signed an agreement with World Vibe Entertainment Group to act as the exclusive voting hub for WVEG's hit show Batalla de las Americas (Battle of the Americas). Quepasa has developed, a new social networking site run by Quepasa that was built to connect and provide a networking spot specifically for fans of Batalla and, in the future, for fans of other voter-based reality shows.

According to representative Dennis O'Neill, "[] was actually looking for strategic partners to leverage our brand, our positioning in the market, and our technology. We came across Battle of the Americas and realized there was a really good partnership to work with. Through many months of discussion we were able to lock down a relationship."

Batalla de las Americas is a singing competition that takes 20 male finalists from countries across the Americas, including the USA and Canada, to compete to become the fourth member of the boy band XM2. Originally named Menudo, the Puerto Rican band hit it big in the 80s and saw success throughout the 1990s. Members have come and gone quite frequently; the most famous and successful was Ricky Martin, who left after five years with the group in 1989 to start a solo career. Batalla begins on June 28 and will continue throughout the summer. As many as 50 million-100 million viewers are expected to watch the contest on television, and Quepasa will be the voting point for all those who choose to cast a ballot.

Though was designed to support fans of Batalla, Quepasa already has plans in the works to partner with other television shows to allow Quepasa to essentially become a social networking Mecca for television fans. O'Neill said that Quepasa would announce these business alliances in the near future.

"[Quepasa] allows companies with significant audiences a way to develop their own social network," explained O'Neill "It is our sophisticated technology with our brand leveraging their audience," he added. He also mentioned that Quepasa sees these kinds of partnerships as a burgeoning niche market especially fit for the company. O'Neill said the Quepasa-Batalla style unions are "not as good a fit for larger social networks" who are already well established and not as flexible as Quepasa.

These partnerships are the latest step in Quepasa's evolution. About seven months ago, said O'Neill, Quepasa transformed itself into a site centered solely on social networking, eliminating news feeds and other aspects that were not attractive to its mainly community-seeking members. In May 2009 the site was made available to the country of Brazil and the move paid off. Brazilian users now account for 20 percent of Quepasa's traffic. "[Quepasa has] seen a significant increase in traffic in the last 6 months, [increasing from] about 100,000 people to 3.5 million." Some of the channels attracting viewers to the Web site include Playboy Mexico and beauty Q & A with Dr. 90210's star, plastic surgeon, Dr. Rey.

Quepasa is taking advantage of its role as a voting hub for Batalla by advertising on the show. Batalla will run a 30-second commercial about every 20 minutes throughout the television program. Plus all members who register on will also become automatic members of users will not automatically be registered to EsMiPlaneta. "This is the biggest agreement Quepasa has ever seen. We're really starting to ramp up on the advertising side," said O'Neill. "Social networking is basically taking over the Internet. We're positioned in the largest and fastest growing demographic in the U.S.," noting that about two-thirds of all Internet traffic is now due to social networking sites.

In other words, O'Neill said, "This is an ideal market for us."

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