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International ’Net: Brazil

Posted on 2.04.2009

Brazil is the fastest growing market in Latin America, hosting 7.3 percent of worldwide Internet users. And the market is growing – according to Nielsen NetRatings, Brazil added 7 million new users in 2007 (good for third place worldwide in terms of new users) with another 3 million added in 2008. That equates to more than 50 million Brazilian Web users, the largest online market in Latin America. According to Nielsen and Comscore, Brazil also leads the world in time spent online. In addition, there are more than 120 million cell phones in use in Brazil.

So what does all that mean? In short, it equals an open opportunity for Web professionals. In order to better understand the Brazilian market, Website Magazine enlisted the help of Marcelo Sant’Iago, former President and current Advisory Board member of IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) Brazil as well as General Manager for Midia Click, a performance- based marketing agency in Sao Paulo. Sant’Iago is also a frequent presenter at top industry trade shows around the world, including recently SES Chicago 2008.

WM: What domain extensions besides .com should be considered if you want to target a site for Brazil?

MS: is a must — there are more than 1.5 million domains today. Also, you must have content in Portuguese, as well as your ads. If you want to succeed, forget content in English or Spanish.

WM: What are some of the best entry points to get into the market in Brazil?

MS: The main destination of online advertising budgets in Brazil goes to horizontal portals, such as,,,, and Two years ago, Google opened an office in Sao Paulo to sell sponsored links, and that will be a factor. Currently just 3 percent of all advertising budgets go to the Internet, but this is the medium with the highest growth ratio during the last few years.

WM: Are there any items or product categories that are popular online purchases in Brazil?

MS: I think it’s the same everywhere: electronics, books, CDs, DVDs, notebooks and computer accessories are popular. But the Web is also a very popular source of information for autos, real estate, and travel purchases in Brazil.

WM: Where do users access the Internet, and what is the average connection speed?

MS: Home is still the primary point of access, but the LAN houses (cyber cafes) have an important role for digital inclusion to the C and D social classes. Around 10 million users (20 percent) connect via broadband in Brazil, but ADSL is the most popular.

Editor’s note: According to a 2008 Scarborough Research report, U.S. broadband penetration is about 50 percent.

WM: What are some online hotspots in Brazil?

MS: Social networking websites reach 84 percent of users, according to comScore, and Orkut is the most popular, reaching 74 percent of users. MySpace and Facebook have yet to catch on. Google accounts for 89 percent of the search engine market and the Brazilian version of YouTube is also very popular. Instant messaging is an absolute fever: MSN Live has more than 35 million users and 4 million uniques per day.

As far as shopping, local vendors, and mercadolivre. (eBay partner in Latin America) are the most popular destinations. The local domination can be partly attributed to the high taxes for buying abroad.

Brazil Quick Facts

  • Portuguese is the national language and Real (R$1 real, R$2 reais) is the currency. You cannot use foreign currency for local purchases.
  • Carnival is a five-day holiday in late February that attracts millions, and is a good target for the travel and tourism industry. There are Catholic holidays in June, October and November, also good for travel and tourism.
  • Mother’s Day is the second Sunday of May, Father’s day is the second Sunday of August.
  • Valentine’s Day is June 12.
  • Children’s Day is Oct. 12, where children are given gifts and, in some parts, it’s bigger than Christmas.
  • School summer vacations are in January/February and winter vacations are in July.

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