batanga.jpgMiami’s Batanga, a multimedia site targeted at Latinos, has raised a significant $30 million more to exploit robust growth in the Hispanic internet market.

Latin Americans represent the fastest growing minority in the United States and the market for Latino-friendly services worldwide is getting hot. A March, 2007 study by eMarketer found that between 76-78 percent of English-speaking and bilingual Latinos use the internet, and estimated that Hispanic online ad spending will grow 32 percent this year — seven points higher than the general market. Meanwhile, internet use in Latin America, while still relatively small at around 20 percent, is growing fast.

Companies and investors have taken notice. Earlier this month, Batanga’s competitor, Hoodiny Entertainment Group, which specializes in Latin American media and runs a social network called Elhood, raised $9 million from undisclosed investors. In April, MySpace launched a version of its site for Spanish speakers, and Hispanic social networks like Vostu, Hispanito, MiGente, and Quepasa are all trying to break in.

Batanga has a social network of its own — powered by Me.com — but its focus is more expansive. It is more like a portal for Hispanic-targeted media, featuring radio stations (including personalized radio) sections for sports, movies, lifestyle , and, of course, “Chicas.’

The company says it has around 4.5 million unique monthly visitors, and streams over 90 million songs and 10 million videos per month. There is no question that this niche is growing, and Batanga holds a strong set of cards. However, it’s going to have to play them well: It is a destination site in a Web 2.0 world, where with a few major exceptions, users are increasingly moving away from loyalty to a single site or brand.

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