About the specifics and uniqueness of the Russian advertising market, extraordinary and memorable cases, and the usefulness of the gaming ecosystem for brands
In the special issue of the Mobile Marketers project, Roman Nikiforov, Commercial Director of mobile DSP Bidease, spoke with Alexandra Kondrashtina, CEO of MediaCom agency, about working in the context of COVID-19, mobile advertising, in-app traffic, and opportunities for interacting with a gaming audience. Before becoming the CEO of MediaCom, you worked as a digital director for several years.
How does this experience influence current decisions?
Of course, such an experience determines how you think. You look at things through the lens of flexibility, automation, manufacturability, and measurability.
The key thing I came to is the understanding that media channels do not exist in a vacuum. If you want to get a decent result from advertising activities, you need to think systematically and based on the final task the brand or company faces.
In essence, this means that you can’t limit yourself to only your focal area; you need to be inquisitive and try to figure out everything that is incomprehensible. Know the consumer and the CJ he is following, and how, within this path, it is better to tell about the product and convince him not only to buy but also to return. And, of course, when you grow from a junior position to the CEO level, you understand precisely what your employees think.
How has the pandemic and lockdown affected your business, how have you adjusted to life in the context of COVID-19?
Of course, we will not say that we are working the way we used to. As soon as everyone switched to self-isolation, it became clear that they could not expect a quick return to everyday life.
We did not differ much from other large companies: we moved to a new office, where we reorganized the space and tried to design it as comfortable as possible for employees. We have completely switched to a hybrid work schedule and follow the shared desk concept when a place is no longer assigned to one employee but can be used by several. There are more common lounge areas with armchairs and sofas that employees can use for work and leisure.
Most of the changes have been made to work with mental health. It was essential for us that all employees could use the services of psychologists, so we chose to cooperate with the Yasno online psychologist recruitment platform. We also have monthly Mental Health support training that is also a success.
Your clients work all over the world. It is clear that each market has its own specifics, but speaking in general, how do you assess the level of development of the Russian advertising industry?
It seems that the idea that the Russian market is not very developed is a myth.
Communicating with clients and in the global network, I am convinced every time that we are advanced in many ways. If, in other markets, everything is mainly focused around Facebook and Google, then we have entirely different companies and ecosystems at the top: Yandex and Sberbank.
This is primarily due to the significant isolation of the market and the peculiarities of our legislation, which leads to the need to reinvent something or create something from scratch.
But at the same time, this is the growth point that allows our market to develop authentically and stand on a par with the digital needs of the United States and China.
Looking at MediaCom, as a global company with a robust network, we have access to the best of all markets. But at the same time, we create such tools in Russia that are then successfully used in other countries, such as Greece, Poland, South Africa, Romania, Hungary, and Sweden.
As for your agency directly, can you point out the most non-standard cases of late?
We do very different things for our clients. I want to note that it is not only interesting from the point of view of the industry development vector but also resonates with what is interesting to me as a professional and as a person.
It’s a campaign to support the launch of an updated version of the iconic Adidas Originals Forum silhouette, inspired by the sporty aesthetic of the 1980s. At the heart of the Open, Forum campaign was the idea of openness, inspiration, and creativity.
To convey this message, together with the client and creative teams, we created a series of digital videos in which our heroes – famous athletes, artists, and artists – talked about what truly inspired them and shared their thoughts on freedom, creativity, and openness to everything new.
Later, the brand introduced the first NFT showcase in Moscow. An art installation in the form of a toy created by cyber-artist Nikita Replyansky in collaboration with graffiti artist Sneksy appeared in the window of the Adidas Originals flagship store on Kuznetsky Most. The toy was made in the author’s futuristic style with the central element in the form of a mask, complemented by Adidas Originals clothing and Forum sneakers.
These campaigns — at the intersection of creativity and technology that bring positive emotions and create real value for people — have consistently shown and show high efficiency!
What proportion of your customer media mix is typically mobile advertising?
There is no fixed and universal share. First of all, we start from clients’ tasks and use those channels and formats that will be most effective for their business.
This efficiency can be measured at the short-term level in media and conversion results, if applicable in the client model, and at the level of extensive econometric studies that we regularly conduct for our clients. With their help, given the availability of historical data, we can determine the optimal level of investment in mobile to meet business KPIs.
What can you say about in-app traffic? In your opinion, is he still viewed with apprehension or has the situation changed?
For image campaigns, in-app traffic is often not prioritized due to the very perception of formats as annoying and not consistently effective. But we see that such traffic can successfully work for performing tasks in some cases: if the communication and the nature of these placements coincide.
We see excellent results, for example, on the project of one of our D2C clients, where mobile traffic can bring actual sales with comparable CPO performance to other placements.
In 2020, the global audience of gamers amounted to 2.5 billion people. Are your customers already actively using this ecosystem, or are they just discovering it?
For example, several of our clients have global partnerships with publishers such as Gameloft. There are not many collaborative campaigns at the local level, but they regularly release new items at the worldwide level.
How important is networking to you personally? Or, on the contrary, do you prefer digital resources and independent learning?
In everything, balance is essential. Different forms of contact with people have other tasks. In the case of events, attending many of them allows you to understand what plan is relevant in the market.
We hold two conferences every year: in the summer – NextM – about the latest digital marketing, and in the fall – TYNY (This Year Next Year), about media in general. Of course, you need to keep learning. There are things you never know from networking or conferences, like how to manage teams or measure the effectiveness of operational transformations.