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Russia's Digital Ecosystem Shaped by Market Nuances

Russian-language websites dominate internet usage

Russia’s online economy has nuances that make it somewhat challenging for foreign brands, according to a new eMarketer report, “Russia Online: Gaining an Understanding of ‘The Runet.’” Nonetheless, Russia boasts the largest online population of any European country—73.8 million in 2013, according to eMarketer estimates, but with penetration rates that trail those in Western Europe.

While penetration is low by European standards, it is still the highest of the BRIC countries.

Internet usage in Russia is significantly higher among urban populations and younger demographic groups.

3G mobile networks in Russia have expanded at a decent clip over the last few years, resulting in improved service and lower costs, helping to drive a rise in mobile internet use. eMarketer estimates there will be 43.9 million mobile internet users in the country in 2013, climbing to 74.3 million by 2016. Russia’s mobile internet user penetration rate has been higher than that of the other BRIC countries, save China, since at least 2011. In 2014, it will pass that of China as well.

For those going online in Russia, internet usage tends to focus more on information and communication and less on commerce. While some users are going online to purchase goods and services, at 26%, they still constitute a minority of the overall online population, according to October findings from the Levada Center.

Russia’s online ecosystem is dominated by use of the Russian language—so much so that the Russian-language internet is often referred to as the Runet. By extension, the most popular sites in Russia tend to be homegrown, not translated imports: Yandex controls the largest market share among search engines; Mail.ru remains the leading email service provider; and VK, a Facebook-like social network, is the top social site. Facebook and Google feature among the top 10, though, according to a November 2012 ranking by Gemius.


The full report, “Russia Online: Gaining an Understanding of 'The Runet'” also answers these key questions:

  • What is the makeup of Russia’s online population, and what will drive its growth?
  • Are internet users set to leapfrog fixed broadband for mobile?
  • How are consumers in Russia using the internet?
  • At what stage of development is ecommerce in Russia?
  • What does Russia’s digital ad spending landscape look like?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


Check out today’s other articles, “Advertisers Deploy, Optimize Video Content” and “Internet Radio's Audience Turns Marketer Heads.”

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