Knowledge Bridge

Global Intelligence for the Digital Transition

RuNet: Making waves at home and abroad

The RuNet, the Russian internet, is now the largest internet market in Europe and continues to grow rapidly. It’s having an impact not only economically, with money flowing into Russian internet companies, but it’s also obviously having an impact on Russia’s politics, a role being noticed internationally.

More than half of Russians access the internet everyday, according to Sergei Plugotarenko, the director of the Russian Association of Electronic Communications. Even though that is below the European average of 78%, Russia still has the world’s sixth largest internet market, and he believes that the RuNet will continue to grow at a rapid pace. By 2014, he projects, more than 70% of all Russians will access the internet, meaning that the country will have some 80m users.

The growth of RuNet and its role in the flow of news has not escaped the notice of international media. In a profile of “media provacateur”, Ksenia Sobchak, who was described by the New York Times as the “Stiletto in Putin’s Side”, the role and reachReach1) unique users that visited the site over the course of the reporting period,…

An estimated 66 million Russians use the Web every day — the largest such national population on the European continent and one of the fastest-growing in the world. Russians have adopted the Web not only as a public sphere for debate but also as a refuge of last resort, a citizens’ court to vent anger at and post evidence of official malfeasance. Videos depicting supposed police abuse, state theft and even car accidents go viral in minutes.

Economically, internet advertising is growing rapidly in Russia – seeing a growth of 55% in 2011 to €1.12 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. This growth was attributed to small and medium businesses gaining experience with the internet and using it to attract customers through the growth of e-commerce, according to Leonid Delitsyn with the brokerage FINAM. With the Russian internet audience now the largest in Europe, he also said that major advertisers have increased their spending on online advertising.

For news organisations, the growth presents both opportunities and challenges. The market is growing quickly, but in terms of advertising, between 2010 and 2011 Europe-wide, search advertising revenue grew, while display and classified and directory advertising fell. That means that search engines such as Google and Yandex are capturing a higher percentage of that growth. With the growth in online advertising, news groups only need to capture a bit of that ad growth to fuel future endeavours, but the challenge is to prove to advertisers that your relationship with your audience matters and delivers results.

Article by Kevin Anderson

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