Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Russians Are Coming!

Last Tuesday, I was proud to give a presentation on digital word of mouth, at the Russian interactive marketing conference, Be Interactive.  The event was organized by the PRP Group and 360d-- sister companies to the GolinHarris' affiliate Comunica.  Distinguished speakers including Interactive Advertising Bureau's President & CEO Randall Rothenberg,'s founder and CEO Chan Suh, Avenue A/Razorfish's Europe President Darin Brown, AKQA's Director of Strategy Craig Walmsley, entrepreneur and MS Sequel's Digital Business Services Creator Bradley Starr presented their views and best practices in engaging audiences online. 

Besides hearing about the makings of successful campaigns from the West, we also listened to an in-depth presentation by Karl Johannesson, founder and CEO of J'son Partners, a management consultancy with offices in Russia and Central Asia. His speech was an eye opener to the possibilities in the Russian Internet market and its growth potential. 

Johannesson projects that the Russian Internet communications market will be $122 billion by 2012. Here is a look at the factors contributing to this area's increasing growth:
  •  Russia comes third (29 million people) in the number of Internet users in Europe, following the UK and Germany. 
  • There are 280 million Russian speakers around the world; 142 million of them are in Russia. 
  •  10.5 million households will be on broadband by the end of 2008. Yet competition is leading to massive infrastructure development. In 5 years, hundreds of Russian cities will come online with FTTB (fiber to the building), providing citizens with faster Internet access than current technologies. 
  • The average Russian Internet user is spending 1-2 hours/day on social networking sites (mostly accessing from work.)
  • Thirty percent of the Russian Internet audience is playing online games, engaging for 30-40 minutes at a time. 
Johannesson points to growth in home Internet use, advergaming and mobile Internet communications for the near future. Within the next few years, the boom of Russian Internet users on high-speed access will draw many more marketers to the area. Odnoklassniki (Russian version of classmates) and vkontakte (Russian version of facebook) will be followed by new online communication platforms that resonate with local preferences, created by local talent.

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