Staying at my Russian friend’s place, I noticed that the first thing she did in the morning was logging in to vKontakte. Well, I guess I can’t compete with her 300+ friend list, and even less – with her mother when she checks up on her in Odnoklassniki. This behavior becomes quite common as she’s just one of those 45 million VK users and 30 million Odnoklassniki users who are getting social online every day.
By contrast, Facebook in Russia is not doing that well in the race (7.5 million users), so no wonder companies try to catch up and invest more into advertising on national platforms instead: according to Socintel360, in 2013 marketing campaigns in Odnoklassniki and vKontakte had $132.4 million and $83.7 million budgets respectively. And, in the coming years, brands are likely to spend on them even more.
According to a new Socintel360’s report, during 2009-2013 social media ad spending in Russia achieved a 58.1% annual growth rate. For 2014-2018, it is expected to grow at a rate of 31.9% per year, reaching $1,559 million in 2018.
So, what are firms spending on when they market on Russian social networks? In the graph below we can see that during 2009-2013 companies spent more than 81% of their social media ads budget on branding and lead generation. It is also predicted that product launch will become the fastest growing marketing objective in 2014-2018 – Socientel360 expects it to grow at a 38.1% annual rate. An objective to actually sell on social media is likely to grow by 33.5% a year over the same forecast period.
Brands also review their budgets to spend more on the mobile social media, responding in such a way to the significant smartphone penetration in Russia of the last few years. Socientel360 predicts that social media advertising spend on the mobile channel will annually grow at a 53.9% rate by 2018, compared to a 30.7% yearly growth rate of desktop ad spending for the same period. The expectation is that during the next four years, this channel will have its share of ad spend increased from 10% in 2013 to 20.1% in 2018.
To sum it up, it looks like the business world starts taking Russian social media seriously. Now, when you approach online market in Russia, it seems quite natural to adopt social analytics as a core strategy rather than just a marketing tool. After all, given its growing nature and smartphone spread, there is a great chance your target customers are right on the other side of the screen.