As the 5th largest app market in the world based on iOS and Android downloads, Russia offers great opportunities for global publishers that are eyeing international expansion.
myTarget, an advertising platform which is part of the Mail.Ru Group, has recently published a report showing how international players have generated significant growth (link to Russian PR). In fact, more than 60% of myTarget advertisers are foreign companies. Among these, Chinese firms reign supreme with no less than 37% of mobile traffic in Russia.
To illustrate this point, go no further than the list of top publishers by revenue in Russia: Elex Technology, Supercell, Machine Zone, Wargaming, IGG, Tap4Fun, Electronic Arts, Plarium – all of which are big players from China, US, Belarus, Israel and Finland.
The main activity used by global publishers in Russia is app promotion, with 73% of myTarget’s mobile traffic. This can be attributed mainly to the fact that apps offer better personalization than websites, in addition to improved tracking, customer communication (via push notifications) and superior user experience that’s native to mobile.
When it comes to the most commonly used ad formats in mobile, native units in the newsfeed of social networks are by far the most popular with an 87% share. Native ads blend in and offer a more natural and less intrusive experience, especially on social networks. This leads to higher engagement rates and ultimately popularity among advertisers.
Another important thing global companies should realize about the Russian market is the massive reach of Android-powered devices, which account for 75% of mobile traffic.
There’s a growing number of foreign companies that are localizing their apps and increasing their reach by expanding to Russia. However, a large portion of the market remains untapped, and that’s where international apps can step in and capitalize on the opportunity.
Key considerations in app promotion in Russia include the following:
1) Localize your app: It is more than evident that people prefer to use apps that are localized for their country. When it comes to Russia, this rule is especially pertinent: only 7% of the population speaks English. If you want to get millions of users and make the most of the massive Russian market, you need to begin a localization process if you haven’t already done so.
However, it’s important to remember that translation is not the same as localization. The simple way is to translate the app and have a native Russian check your game bytaking cultural contexts into account. For example, in Russia, use the Ruble (₽) sign instead of the dollar sign ($). Russian text and clear monetization will help increase your revenue per user.
2) Find the right partners to work with: No one knows the market better than local companies. For example, if you were just getting starting with promotion in the US, you would definitely go to Google and Facebook, knowing that they have the biggest reach there. But in Russia, the tech giants actually have a relatively small market share compared to the local players. Russia has its own popular email-services, social networks and search engines. Mail.Ru Group, through their social networks Vk.com and Odnoklassniki have more than 100 million users – 5 times more than Facebook. Instead of Gmail, most Russians use Mail.Ru as their email provider.
3) Discuss the best promotion strategy with your partners: Make sure you take the top categories into account. In Russia, the most popular ones are games, ecommerce, utilities and dating. Since Android is incredibly popular in Russia, utilities attracts millions of users.
For example, take the 360 Security antivirus app: it has generated over 12 million installs in Russia during the past year. Its average CTR was 2.5-3%, with a CPI of $0.35. The company’s creative with call to actions like “Clean Your Phone Memory” (see creative below), and “Extend Your Battery” worked very well among the highly engaged Russian audience, which spends over 40 minutes on average in Russian social networks on a daily basis.
To sum up, a word to those concerned about the economic instability in Russia. This is a perfect example of how uncertainty can become an opportunity: traffic is becoming much cheaper because of the devalued Ruble compared to the dollar (the average CPI is Russia is $1 and this figure can be much cheaper for utility apps). Meanwhile, people keep spending on entertainment, which includes games and other types of apps. They will probably cancel a planned vacation, but stay at home playing mobile games. So be ready to capture this large and accessible audience.