Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) AOL has been working hard on setting its content free this year. It's made another significant move by announcing the relaunch of its AOL Latino portal as a free Internet destination supported by advertising.

It seems a little bit like overkill to announce this maneuver. After all, given AOL's overall content strategy this year, one might think it goes without saying that AOL would also make AOL Latino free. Of course, AOL wants to remind everyone that AOL Latino targets a large and growing U.S. demographic. Previously, users would have paid about $26 per month for AOL's walled-in services, and now it's unleashed for free onto the Internet, in the hopes of attracting lots of eyeballs (and ad dollars).

Just to get an idea of the stakes here, AOL reminded us that Latinos are the fastest-growing community online. eMarketer has said that there are 15.7 million Latino Internet users here in the U.S., and the number is expected to grow 33% by 2010.

The AOL Latino portal provides the same goodies one expects from AOL -- bilingual content, email, instant messaging, and security products like antivirus services and spam controls. It also provides specific content targeted at Latinos, such as Latin American news headlines, Latino celebrity news and content like concerts, and free English lessons.

This is hardly a revolutionary idea. Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) also has a Spanish language site, and back in May it teamed up with Spanish-language network Telemundo (owned in part by GE's (NYSE:GE) NBC) to create a site called Yahoo! Telemundo.

AOL has its work cut out for it in duking it out with competitors like Yahoo!, not to mention Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) MySpace, all of which seem to have a pretty good hold over lots of Internet users (and are very alluring for advertisers). And while AOL has been reporting some degree of financial success with its nascent shift to free, once the novelty wears off, the months ahead should give us a good idea of how successful this strategy will be for the company. It certainly doesn't hurt for AOL to focus on the large and growing U.S. Latino demographic, but it remains to be seen just how much it will help.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.