Changing markets. Immense growth in digital penetration. New eco-systems. Shifting consumer trends. In this hodgepodge of tendencies, Russia represents a brave new world, for native companies and long-time market explorers like Hubert Burda Media alike.
What better way to shoot off the very first day of DLD Moscow than to have some of the Russian tech- and media market’s hottest commodities offer their views on what’s going to happen next?
Questions were almost too many for the scheduled 50-minute “Digital Media Strategies” panel to address, but speaker heavyweights Dimitry Grishin of Mail.ru, Paul-Bernhard Kallen of Hubert Burda, Ahmet Özer of Trader Media East and Arkady Volozh of Yandex still managed to squeeze in a number of revealing inputs under Booz&Co VP Thomas Künstner’s moderation.
With enthusiasm, the panelists ventured into a debate about the big whys and hows of tomorrow’s digital media landscape. Trend are predictable - penetration is growing, mobile is booming and interaction will take over passive consumption. This is not, as Volozh pointed out a few times, not exactly breaking news.
What is more interesting are the companies’ approaches to handling the challenges they face.
Advertising, the panel agreed, will remain key.
“Digital is by now the most important revenue generator for Burda,” Kallen said. But you cannot simply put content online. Instead, the company now tries to “follow the customer all the way to transaction.” Strong brands can prove to be helpful. They generate trust and traffic that can ultimately pay off.
The market for advertising, Volozh added, continues to grow. There is still room for expansion and improvement, and with new technologies, a new space for creativity appears. This, too, can be seen in the Russian startup community as a spillover effect.
To Grishin, however, it isn’t creativity that’s needed. “Social networks and new technology, like data-driven targeting, will do the job”. In fact, the Mail.ru CEO claimed, “too much creativity can confuse the consumer.”
The panelists, however, seemed to strike a common key when looking at their own playing field, Russia.
Few places are experiencing the same fast-paced developments as the giant in the East. Russian is the world’s fifth largest language in the world. Smart phone penetration is by now at 25% and rapidly rising. When you get it right and do well in Russia, you do well in general - something these guys would know.