Last month research agency Proximity, part of BBDO Russia, conducted a survey on Russian marketing efforts for 2015.  The survey on Russian advertising asked respondents from major industries such as Finance, Auto, Retail, and Healthcare about their marketing adjustments in 2015 in response to Russia’s economy.  Respondents included marketing directors, brand managers, heads of digital advertising and CRM managers from 40 major Russian and international companies.

Half of those surveyed said they hadn’t felt any affects of the economy and had not made any adjustments to their marketing efforts.  In a separate survey question, 48% of respondents said that in tougher economic times performance marketing becomes a priority, followed by real time bidding.  Naturally, advertisers want the ability to manage and monitor their marketing efforts in real time.

Digital advertising is where businesses are noticeably increasing their marketing efforts. A significant 62% of respondents are increasing their digital advertising in 2015.  Almost a third of those surveyed will maintain their current digital advertising plans and the remaining 12% are slightly decreasing their digital ads.  In general all signs indicate a rotation of other advertising channels, especially TV, Radio, Outdoor and press into Digital which signals a potentially robust market for Russian digital advertising this year.

Advertising spend on CRM, BTL, and PR will generally see slight reductions this year but are areas where more businesses are focusing their marketing efforts this year.  Across the board, businesses are otherwise significantly reducing their spend in other advertising channels.  TV, radio, and Outdoor advertising will all decrease by approximately 50% this year. The most significant reductions will be applied to radio advertising, followed by outdoor advertising, and then television.

proximity_russian ad channels 2015

According to respondents, the top four areas where they will be focusing their digital advertising efforts include:

  • Contextual Advertising and Search Optimization
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Online Video
  • Own online brand platform (site, apps)

When it comes to digital advertising in Russia, although still relevant, businesses are forced to think a bit outside their box of Google and Facebook.  Yandex, Russia’s most popular website, is the leading search engine in Russia with approximately 60% of the market share.  Advertisers place ads through Yandex.Direct, an auction based ad platform and optimize their websites for a unique Yandex SEO.  Yandex’s advertising network is the largest contextual network in Russia and reaches almost 95% of the Russian online population every month.

Rather than a Facebook focused approach, social media marketers focus more on Vkontakte (VK), Russia’s second most popular website and leading social network, and  Odnoklassniki, a network geared towards connecting with classmates.  The average Russian Internet user spends 40% of their time online on social networking sites.

Russians also spend a serious amount of time watching videos online, averaging 24.8 monthly hours of video viewing per user. Russia ranks fourth worldwide for the average monthly unique visitors watching video online with 69.8 million users.  It’s no surprise that marketers are turning to online video to reach their audiences.

Digital advertisers have a number of unique partners to help to improve their marketing efforts in the Russian ad market. Mainly due to the ability to measure results, the current economic situation in Russia is drawing more marketers to these online options in 2015.  While most businesses are increasing their digital advertising efforts, international businesses may have the upper hand because the strength of the dollar and Euro against the ruble leads to significantly lower CPC’s and CPA’s compared to even 12 months ago.