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What you need to know about Russia, the world’s 5th largest app market

There are more than 62 million mobile users in Russia, so it is no wonder that this audience is highly attractive for global app publishers

May 25, 2017
As the fifth largest app market in the world based on iOS and Android downloads, Russia offers great opportunities for global publishers eyeing international expansion.

myTarget, an advertising platform that is part of the Mail.Ru Group (the digital giant that commands a 90% mobile ad market share in Russia), has shared information on how international players generated significant growth during the last year. In fact, more than 60% of myTarget advertisers are foreign companies. Among these, Chinese firms reign supreme, with no less than a 37% share.

To illustrate this point, we need to look no further than the list of top publishers by revenue in Russia: Elex Technology, Supercell, Machine Zone, Wargaming, Playrix, IGG, Electronic Arts, Plarium – all are big players from China, the US, Belarus, Israel, and Finland.

Global publishers in Russia are mainly engaged in app promotion, which forms over 70% 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 a superior user experience that is native to mobile.

When it comes to the most commonly used ad formats in mobile, native units (2) in social network newsfeeds are by far the most popular, with over a share of more than 87%. 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.

Something else it is important for global companies to realize about the Russian market is the massive reach of Android-powered devices, which account for 72% of mobile traffic.

A growing number of foreign companies are localizing their apps and increasing their reach by expanding to Russia. However, a large portion of the market remains untapped, and that is where international apps can step in and capitalize on the opportunity.

Key advice when promoting an app in Russia:
1. Localize your app

It is evident that people prefer to use apps that are localized for their country. This is especially true of Russia, where 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 undertake localization if you haven’t already done so. 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 by taking cultural factors 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.

Remember, meanwhile, that translation is not the same as localization. The simple way is to translate the app and have a native Russian check your game by taking cultural factors 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 starting a promotion campaign in the US, you would definitely go to Google and Facebook, knowing that they have the biggest reach there. But in Russia, these tech giants actually have a relatively small market share compared to local players. Russia has its own popular email services, social networks, and search engines. The Mail.Ru Group has over 100 million users through its social networks VK and Odnoklassniki – five times more than Facebook.

The same is true for search engines: in their majority, Russians tend to use Yandex rather than Google for searching online. Similarly, most Russians use Mail.Ru instead of Gmail as their email provider.

3. Discuss the best promotion strategy with your partners

Make sure you take the top app categories into account. In Russia, these are games, e-commerce, utilities, and dating. Games is the top category by downloads and revenue in the country.

For example, take 9-Kylins Network Technology, a Chinese mobile game publisher specializing in MMORPG and strategy games.

In 2015, 9-Kylins expanded internationally, targeting Russia’s hardcore gaming market. According to a recent case study, they delivered a 3x boost in Q4 2016 alone. Over the past 18 months, Borrete Network Technology (a subsidiary of 9-Kylins Network Technology) has launched six mobile games in the Russian market and is thrilled with the results.

Looking at market conditions and third party reports makes me very optimistic about the future of mobile in Russia. As AppAnnie notes, "The current market conditions and the potential for future development make Russia an excellent opportunity for growth or international expansion." now is the perfect time to start exploring the Russian market, especially if you want to expand your apps globally. The publishers, developers, and agencies who take advantage of this opportunity the soonest will benefit the most from the Russian market.

Now is the perfect time to start exploring the Russian market, especially if you want to expand your apps globally. The publishers, developers, and agencies who take advantage of this opportunity the soonest will benefit the most from the Russian market.