When looking at emerging trends and insights into branded content marketing in Russia, we need to remember that advertising in Russia is relatively young. The very first TV ads, from multi-national FMCG giants, were aired in 1989.
Nevertheless, during the past 25 years the Russian advertising market has became relatively mature, very fragmented (there are hundreds of media owners) and one of the most cluttered in Europe.
This maturity and saturation helps explain why the number of people who like and trust traditional advertising has started to decline year on year, according to TNS M’Index annual study.
Meanwhile, Russia is fertile ground for new communication technologies:
- 93% of Russians own a mobile phone (30% smartphone)
- 85% (52 million) have a social network account, the 5th highest figure in the world. The top Russian social network is VKontakte, the European leader by average monthly time-spend – more than 7 hours per user
- 35% of Russians are exposed to a ‘second screen’ i.e. actively use PC and/or smartphone while watching TV
- 51% of Russians prefer spending leisure time on a PC, rather than watching TV
Whereas Russians are open to new technologies, their preferred content formats are well established. These consist of both local and international material.
Humour generally has a special place in the life and culture of Russians. 81% of the population considers a sense of humour as one of the most important character traits.
Not surprisingly then, the most popular TV content format (with a 62% rating) is humour. Domestic comedy shows dominate, the most popular being KVN – now more than 50 years old and the de facto proving ground for budding comedians before they move on to the increasingly popular new stand-up shows.
The second most popular (53%) content format, talent, is led by a locally adapted version of The Voice. Then comes DIY (47%), including programmes about cooking, house repairs and beauty/grooming that are mostly adapted from international franchises. Finally, we have TV games content (40%) among which the most popular shows are local quiz ‘What?Where?When?’ and international franchises ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ and ‘Wheel of Fortune’.
Notably, the Russian hosts of all these shows are strong opinion leaders and are heavily featured by advertisers in marketing initiatives.
While humorous content is perennially popular, it’s experiencing a boom nowadays thanks to the rise of stand-up comedy programmes and the new pseudo-reality shows – series featuring the ordinary daily lives of extraordinary people, which are shot on amateur cameras.
There has also been considerable public interest in sport-related content recently. In particular, feature movies and series about sports people (both up-and-coming and legendary) have generated great interest among Russian audiences. This could be explained by a general national sports boom, thanks to numerous world-class sporting events being hosted in Russia – Universiada 2013, Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup 2018 and others.
Another notable factor influencing Russia’s branded content marketing activity is the very close association between leading TV channels and production houses, something that’s seldom found in other countries.
For example, the majority of content on the biggest Russian TV channel, Pervy, is shot by Red Square production house; TNT channel (the major entertainment network for young adults) by Comedy Club Production; STS (the leading family entertainment channel) by Yellow, Black and White production house.
This partnership between TV channels and production houses provides a very wide scope of opportunities for integrated branded content marketing initiatives, created by content professionals in a seamless and engaging way for audiences.
TV programme sponsors, predominantly FMCG and mobile communications companies, are most active in exploiting these branded content marketing opportunities. For example, Syoss hair care brand provided professional stylists on ‘The Voice’ and presented extra content features, such as contestants experiencing the brand’s products, to achieve deep brand integration in a recent branded content marketing campaign.
In another instance, Russia’s leading telecommunications group MTS has previously aligned itself with the ‘What?Where?When?’ quiz show and KVN comedy programme, as well as broadcasting its own programme, ‘The Game’, which was closely tied in with live MTS marketing activity as it aired.
A more multifaceted example of a recent successful Russian branded content marketing campaign is that of Baltika #3 beer. The brand wanted to be strongly associated with football, gain mass coverage, yet stay within new advertising regulations under which beer is not allowed to be integrated into sports competitions, nor advertised on TV before 11pm.
With the insight that beer consumption related to football also takes place away from matches, when discussing them with friends, the Baltika #3 campaign featured several strands of activation:
- A Baltika #3 branded ‘3 news about football’ scoring tool within the ‘Football night” programme on major TV channel NTV, where experts discuss the main football news.
- Similar rubrics on top football websites, where fans discuss the main football news with each other and with experts in chat forums.
- The top three news items were selected by audience votes then became discussion topics on TV and fed into the content creation for Baltika #3 ads online and on TV.
This legally compliant, cross-media, integrated branded content marketing campaign firmly associated Baltika #3 with football and resulted in a 10% increase in sales, a 20% increase in loyal customers and a 4 point increase in market share.
In summation, the use of branded content marketing in Russia is growing and there are several major factors contributing to this growth:
- A negative attitude to traditional interruptive advertising that’s worsening year on year.
- A fertile market for personal communication technologies and social media.
- Industry partnerships through which both content producers and media agencies can enrich their expertise in integrated branded content marketing campaigns, and provide advertisers and TV audiences with engaging new solutions – including cross-media ones that may comprise content on TV, Internet, radio, in-store and other communication channels.
- Finally, the first robust research studies analysing the efficiency of branded content marketing communication channels have recently been completed.
Please contact Fuse Russia to request a copy of their latest branded content marketing information for the Russian market.
See the following Russia case study from the Best of Branded Content Marketing: Volume II: