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How will the shortage of smartphones and the rejection of unlimited internet have an impact on mobile advertising?

Как дефицит смартфонов и отказ от безлимитного интернета скажется на мобильной рекламе?

In the third quarter of 2021, the advertising market in Russia grew by 26% to RUB 139bn, according to AdIndex estimates based on AKAR data. The dynamics for the first nine months were similar (+25%), and compared to pre-pandemic figures, the growth was 15%.

According to the Association of Communication Agencies of Russia, between January and September, advertisers spent RUB 214-216bn on the Internet (+26% year-on-year), RUB 133-134bn on TV (+20%), RUB 31bn on OOH (+43%), RUB 9.7bn on radio (+30%), and RUB 5.7bn on the press (zero year-on-year dynamics).

By the end of 2021, the advertising market is expected to grow by 21%, setting an all-time record. According to GroupM’s research, advertising spending in Russia will increase to RUB 580 billion in 2021. However, the trend differs by segment. For example, analysts believe that Internet and TV advertising sales will exceed pre-crisis levels by 30% and 11%, respectively, outdoor advertising will return to 2019 volume after a slowdown due to lockdowns, while the press and radio won’t restore advertising revenues this year or next year.

All mobile data will no longer be a secret

New amendments to the law “On Communications” imply lifting the secrecy of information about a telecom company subscriber: payments, traffic and connections.

Besides, article 53 of the law will be amended to permit provision of “other information as per list of which is defined by the government of the Russian Federation”.

At present, all data received by telecommunications operators fall into two groups:

  • subscriber data; 
  • data on services provided to the subscriber. 

These categories of data are protected and can be accessed by third parties only with the permission of the subscriber, who is a private person. In the current legislation, subscriber data includes information on connections, traffic and payments, which creates ambiguity in the interpretation of citizens’ rights to permit or “not to permit” the transfer of data on services provided by an operator.

It is planned that the draft amendments to the law will regulate this norm and create an opportunity for subscribers to give their consent to the transfer of service data separately. According to an explanatory note to the document, this will allow citizens to confirm their ability to pay, if necessary. In addition, tourists will be able to receive messages about services and events in the region they are visiting.

The third goal the lawmakers have in mind by suggesting changes to the law is to combat fraud by telephone. Operators would be able to create databases of suspicious numbers and send a signal to the bank about the call exactly when it is received.

The bill is now undergoing a stage of public debate and an anti-corruption independent review. After that, the final version of the text will be submitted to the lawmakers. If it is adopted, the experts advise that the operator’s service contract be studied in more detail.

Smartphones are being bought less in Russia

According to the results of the third quarter of 2021, smartphone market in Russia showed negative dynamics in comparison with the same period last year. According to International Data Corporation (IDC) research, supply of smartphones decreased by 14%. At the same time, the average price of the device continued to grow.

Smartphone supplies amounted to 8.1 million units, compared to 9.4 million in the same period last year. Experts attribute the negative dynamics in the Russian smartphone market to the lack of components and difficulties in the supply chain.

At the same time, the average price of a smartphone in the third quarter continued to grow. As a result, the volume of shipments in monetary terms showed a positive trend, as in the same period last year, and amounted to 2.3 billion dollars.

According to IDC, the smartphone market leader in the third quarter was Samsung (brand share in Russia market was 34%), Xiaomi came in second place (26%), Apple ranked third (15%).

According to IDC, Russia suffered from shortage of devices more than some other countries. Experts predict that the situation with component shortages is likely to continue in the near future.

Mobile operators cancel unlimited Internet option

Mobile operators have cancelled the unlimited Internet option for new subscribers. Unlimited Internet is used by about a third of the Russians, but for the operators it is an unprofitable business, as some users spend too much traffic, Forbes reported.

Thus, representatives of “VimpelCom” and “MegaFon” said that in their current tariff plans there is no option for unlimited Internet, a representative of Tele2 said that it was removed many months ago. MTS has such an option only on two premium rates, the monthly subscription fee on which exceeds 2 thousand roubles a month. The operators added that the lack of the option doesn’t apply to existing subscribers of current tariffs.

Now about 30% of subscribers use unlimited Internet, while only about 5% of them use really big volumes of traffic (100GB and more). Vimpelkom added that the unlimited Internet option applies to “specific services, demanded by the majority”. At the same time, the vast majority of subscribers with unlimited traffic on smartphones and tablets use no more than 50GB a month, while 70% of them “fit” into 20GB and less: it is mainly the traffic from messengers, social networks and video services.

However, experts believe that unlimited Internet is unprofitable for operators, because in this case, subscribers consume a large amount of traffic amid growing load on the network. Cheap tariffs were the weapon of the Russian operators’ competitive wars in 2018-2019, but now attracting new subscribers is no longer a priority. From 2020, VimpelCom, Megafon, MTS and Tele2 raised prices on archive tariffs.

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