WapStart is the leader of the Russian mobile advertising market, it owns one of the largest mobile advertising network Plus1 WapStart. In Top WapStart catalogue advertisers can find the most popular and complete mobile sites in Russia. For many years the company helps such international brands like Volvo, Toyota and Ebay to reach their potential customers on mobile devices. Digital East Factor got an exclusive opportunity to talk to Andrey Shatrov, Vice President Business Development at WapStart.
Please say a few words about WapStart. Why it is important for advertisers to use such a platform for obtaining success in mobile marketing?
A: WapStart exists on the market since 2005. In some way, we became the “pioneers” of WAP technology and mobile advertising in Russia. Our products helped users to grow familiar with new “coordinate system”. All leading mobile marketing agencies, content providers and mobile operators were partners of WapStart on the market of mobile advertising at that time. In 2007 we opened advertising network Plus1 WapStart for Mobile Internet, the task of which is to keep personal access to each user via his or her cell phone. Even then we were sure that advertising should focus on mobile Internet! Active sales of WapStart mobile advertising began in 2009. It is obvious that in 2009 it was hard to talk about any special achievements, because the market was still underdeveloped. Nobody understood why he or she needs mobile advertising, what audience should be covered, and what problems may be solved. The first success was achieved in 2010. It was then that we felt a clear interest from advertisers to our product. Starting from 2012, we observe a constant attention from advertisers and advertising agencies. Today we occupy the leading position on mobile advertising market in Russia and the CIS. Monthly advertising capacity of WapStart is over 4.6 billion ad impressions, a number of unique visitors is more than 25 million per month, and a number of advertisers run into thousands. As for the future, in 2014-2015 we expect a great surge in demand for mobile advertising.
Such platforms, as WapStart, give advertisers technologies that allow them to select the desired audience and divide it upon variety of parameters – geography, platform, and themes of sites. Thus, mobile advertising campaign effectiveness increases dramatically, and the cost scales down. Surely, WapStart has all these tools and services.
What are the main advantages of WapStart that make it the best compared to other competitors, such as Media Star or Trilan Group?
A: First of all, the above listed companies are advertising agencies that provide a wide range of services to its clients. But WapStart is a “transport” between the agency, the advertiser and the audience.
If to speak about differences from our competitors, first of all, the audience of our mobile network is the largest in Russia. In addition to the scale, we differ from our competitors by high quality service of customer support and a full package of services. Our staff helps advertising agencies and direct advertisers to prepare, set up, and run advertising campaigns. So, we undertake all customer service. This is necessary in order to facilitate the work of any new player in mobile advertising. All that is left for the client to do is to monitor the progress of campaign.
If for some reason advertising campaign does not show the desired result, our specialists work with the client for more accurate targeting and KPI achieving.
For sites and application developers we offer advantageous commercial terms and own support and connection division, minimizing costs.
Loyalty programs take a special place in our strategy to attract advertisers. For direct advertisers we have a progressive discount scale. With advertising agencies we work on a commission basis, the percentage of which is discussed personally at the conclusion of contracts.
Another important factor of our success is the presence of a large and loyal base of our own sites, with which we cooperate on mutually beneficial conditions and which traffic can be sold by WapStart exclusively.
Could you please describe the functionality of Top.WapStart and how it “plays” in favour of advertiser?
A: Our Top.WapStart service is a rating of mobile websites. In fact, it has relevance neither to our sites, nor to advertisers. Any mobile website can install WapStart counter, which will count unique visitors and give a rating.
There are a lot of successful business cases under WapStart’s belt. Automotive giant Volvo is among them. What other international companies are your clients?
A: As I said above, the number of our advertisers already estimated in the hundreds. If to talk about great brands in automobile segment – these are Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Suzuki, Volvo, and Volkswagen. Recently, Google became our advertiser as well, which with the help of our network promotes such services, as Google Play, Google Chrome, and Youtube. Also, among our clients there is Internet Commerce giant Ebay, aero-giant KLM, international service GetTaxi and popular payment system MasterCard. As you can see, the scope of advertisers is rather variegated.
WapStart was one of the originators of mobile marketing in Russia and countries of the former USSR. What significant changes could you observe at this channel between 2005 and 2013? How would you describe the future of mobile marketing?
A: First of all, the size of mobile audience increased. It became obvious, that there is a whole “army” of mobile users in mobile Internet. Today it includes about 40 million people. It is a huge audience, even in comparison with large WEB, where today there are about 70 million users. Companies from all sectors of the economy have mobile applications or mobile versions of their websites. Advertisers’ requests become more difficult. Now it is important for them not only to get the maximum effect of the campaign. Advertisers want to understand the behavior of the audience, which led to such results.
Certainly, the budgets changed as well. If in 2011 advertising campaigns were run on the tens of thousands of rubles, now it is hundreds! We have recently seen more and more campaigns, which spend more than a million rubles per month for promotion of its products in Plus1 WapStart network.
Of course, formats changed, too. This year’s trend in mobile marketing is Reach Media and video advertising. Now it is tens of thousands of dollars, but we hope that it will be serious amounts compared to what brand advertiser invests in advertising on TV and on the Web for media advertising.
The future of mobile marketing is technologies and innovation, and the maximum available information about the user and his or her behavior.
What place mobile marketing takes in online business in Russia? Whether the market is mature for such services?
A: Now, 1.5-2% of the total budget for Internet advertising accounts for mobile advertising in Russia. According to various forecasts, in a few years this figure will reach 7-15%. The fact is that Russia is still a growing market. It is in the active growth phase, which attracts brands and agencies. For one thing, the market of Russia and the CIS has the largest audience in Europe, and relatively high ARPU. Audience of mobile advertising in Russia today is more than 37 million users of smartphones and tablets per year. According to analysts’ forecasts, it is expected that Russia will be in the TOP 10 of the largest Digital markets in the world by 2015!
E-Commerce significance increases every day in the West. What is happening today in RuNet? Whether the network audience is ready to make purchases via mobile devices?
A: Today E-Commerce market in Russia is developing steadily. Despite small popularity of this type of services, we associate the principal growth of E-Commerce market with 2014. For now, mobile advertising works for E-commerce in two directions: provides forming and responding demand for goods or services. That is, once a user finds the desired product using mobile device, 47% of them make purchases on the Internet with the help of their computers at home. Currently our company works with dozens of companies operating in the sphere of E-commerce. We already have examples of successful advertising campaigns. For the coming period, we face a problem of introduction of more analytical tools designed to increase the efficiency of work with our network by several times.
What tips you could give Western brands and advertisers who are planning to enter the market of mobile marketing in Russia?
A: In order to apply the tools of mobile marketing in Russia successfully, it is necessary to understand the specifics of the national market and Russian mobile users behavior.
First of all it is necessary to think over a concept of advertising creative – to increase users engagement you have to use only high quality and professionally prepared ads, upon that, to maximize advertising campaign conversion, you should clearly and in layman’s language present an expected action from the user on banners, ensuring full compliance and accompaniment to information on landing page.