For gaming operators and affiliates looking to target complex markets such as Russia, it is important to understand the technical landscape into which you will be marketing

WHILST MAJOR iGaming brands and their associated partners (affiliates) have already exploited and saturated many of today's international markets, there has been a long-standing acknowledgement about the future potential of Eastern Europe as an emerging iGaming marketplace. That future is now.

Most operators have grown accustomed to using traditional social media channels that work effectively for the majority of countries in Western Europe, as well as the USA and Canada. However, due to cultural, linguistic differences, amongst others, these traditional social media strategies will not successfully transfer to Eastern Europe. To examine and understand the reasons why, let's take the biggest Eastern European market as an example - Russia.

Internet penetration and trends

Before entering a new developing market, it's important to understand the technical maturity of the landscape: technology development. Internet penetration rates, broadband adoption, etc.

According to the Global Web Index international research group, there was a 14 percent increase in the number of Internet users in Russia in 2010. This growth was mainly attributable to an increased number of users in Russian regions outside of the main (and largely technically mature) cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg. Currently. 59 percent of Russians above the age of 12 use the Internet at least once a month In Moscow, this figure is slightly higher (67 percent), however, it isn't reflective of the significant change enjoyed in the outer-lying regions and villages. Louring the last 12 months, the number of Internet users in the Russian capital grew by four percent against the national increase of 14 percent.

Based on the data in Figure 1, we can conclude that 90 percent of the growth of Russian Internet users is accounted for by regions outside of the major cities of Moscow and St Petersburg (who share the remaining ten percent). The implication here is that rural Russia is undergoing the sort of technical (Internet-based at least) adolescence that will act as a driving force for a nationwide maturity of Internet prevalence and accessibility.

Targeting Russian regions, however, can be a challenging venture since Internet density is not equal, with significant deviation from one region to another. As such. Internet penetration in Moscow and St Petersburg is 1.5 times higher than in other cities and is three times higher than in small towns and villages. However, according to the 'Social opinion' fund prognosis, the gap between the Internet penetration rates enjoyed in Moscow and that of the rest of Russia (excluding Moscow) will reduce from an estimated 31 percent differential in 2007, to a mere eight percent by autumn 2014, provided Internet access conditions remain unchanged.
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