Adriana Cisneros, the Venezuelan CEO of Grupo Cisneros, and Walter F. Ulloa, chairman and CEO of Entravision Communications, publicly discussed Entravision’s recent acquisition of Cisneros Interactive for the first time today as part of a Paley Center Media Council virtual event.
“I think the most important challenge for us and for other companies, especially media companies, is innovation,” Ulloa said. “How do you keep innovating and creating new opportunities for growth? How do we continue to merge into this digital world and learn and prosper and grow all of our existing businesses? How do we continue to better serve the Latino market right here in the United States?”
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Moderated by renowned Mexican-American journalist and “Noticiero Univision” anchor Jorge Ramos, the discussion, entitled “Transforming the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American Digital Media Space,” touched on the acquisition, and delved into insights regarding the transition from linear broadcast media to digital, the pandemic-driven acceleration of digital media and how it is all being monetized.
Entravision, the largest affiliate group of both the Univision television network and Univision’s Unimás network, acquired a majority investment (51%) in the Miami-based Cisneros Interactive, which serves over 2,000 brands and agencies each month across the United States and Latin America, back in October. The combined platforms positioned themselves as potentially one of the largest premier digital advertising companies serving the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets.
“Honestly, what keeps me up at night is figuring out how we can keep up with the momentum that we’ve generated in this strange year of productivity,” Cisneros said, noting 2020-21 was the best year the Cisneros Group has had since she took over as CEO. (It included signing the deal with Entravision, as well as taking the company public last week.)
Per Ulloa, making the phone call to Cisneros during the pandemic to get the ball rolling on a potential partnership was one that had been 10 years in the making.
“It was a combination of being familiar with the Cisneros Group, knowing the people involved, having confidence in them as operators and certainly the business model that Adriana had created,” Ulloa said. “And then finally operating in Latin America because of the 10 years we’ve spent investing in Latin American companies, so we knew a little bit about the challenges of operating in Latin America or in any international territory, for that matter.”
During the decade in which the Cisneros Group held a majority stake in Univision (from 1997 to 2007), Ulloa was able to meet the executives of the Cisneros Group including chairman Gustavo Cisneros and started following the digital advertising company’s investments some time ago. Ulloa added that he felt it was important to reach out and meet up with Adriana Cisneros, as well, in order to start the conversation.
“When Walter approached us, we were on a total high. It was the seventh year since we had started our ad network,” Cisneros said.
The company had just signed LinkedIn and Spotify, which meant that they were representing Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp as well in over 70 markets.
“We basically have a presence in every single country in Latin America except Guyana,” she said. “I think Walter saw in us a partner that would help them bring that part of the continent into Entravision’s digital strategy, and it has been a seamless partnership so far and I think we’re very complementary even though we have had different paths in designing our digital strategies.”
According to Cisneros, they have arrived now at the same point in digital, longing to play in the space at the present and to continue in the future. Ulloa added that there are few companies in the world that have this expertise or these relationships, so it’s a difficult model to replicate or to compete with and, as such, he believes that Entravision’s investment with Cisneros Interactive was a timely one.
“I think we’ve got a big future together,” he said.
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