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.
Mobile marketing in Russia is still at its early stage. During the last few years new mobile networks – some good, some not so good – have been popping up in Russia as the mobile Internet usage kept growing.
Surprisingly, none of the Russian Internet giants have been paying too much attention to mobile advertising. Of course, there are mobile ad formats on Facebook, whose audience in Russia is quite limited, and Google, whose market share in Russia is only somewhat 25-30%. Neither Yandex, nor any of the major social networks have so far created any mobile-specific advertising products up until now.
Almost exactly two years ago Facebook revolutionised mobile advertising with their app install ads. Twitter followed earlier this year introducing their own all install format. Last week Russia’s largest social network vKontakte, aka VK or vk.com, also announced [in Russian] their very own mobile app install ad format to help app developers marketing their app in Russia and CIS.
Odnoklassniki, Russia’s second largest social network, yesterday re-branded into OK. The domain odnoklassniki.ru now redirects to ok.ru, and the design has been completely changed to reflect the new lighter and easier image.
According to this year’s ComScore report, Facebook, despite all their efforts, lost market share in Russia. While vKontakte increased their number of visits by 22%, visits to Facebook from Russia dropped by 18% during the period June 2012 – June 2013.
Facebook is generally struggling to keep up their visitors and their engagement levels. According to ComScore, Facebook’s monthly audience worldwide did not grow at all during the past year, and daily fell by 8%. On the other hand, Russian VK is growing and increasing their visitor base taking over traffic from their main competitors in Russia Odnoklassniki and Facebook.
Last year, for instance, the percentage of people, who only used Facebook or Odnoklassniki was higher.
The founder and CEO of vKontakte Pavel Durov recently mentioned that they are aiming for 70% of the Russia market first, and later – international expansion.
Pavel Durov, the founder of vKontakte (VK), is definitely one of the most known personalities of the Russian Internet industry. This extremely smart, ambitious and successful young man is an interesting and often controversial figure. Apart from not letting Facebook into the market by creating, well.. a Facebook of his own, he also has strong views about the industry, legal climate and Internet regulation laws. He also invited Edward Snowden to come to St. Petersburg and work for VK, after Snowden was granted asylum in Russia and finally left the Moscow airport.
The social network itself is still doing very well, unlike its Western counterpart Facebook. According to ComScore, during the period between June 2012 and June 2013 visits to VK in Russia increased by 22% (and by 24% in the rest of the world), while visits to Facebook dropped by 18%.
In this interview to Matthew Bishop of The Economist Pavel talks about Russian Internet, social networking in Russia, and, of course, vKontakte itself. Take some time and watch it — great thoughts and insights.