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29 April 2022

Alexander Zharov at NRF Expert Club: “We Need to Create More Content”

The third and final meeting of the NRF Expert Club took place on December 14. Organized by the Association of Communication Agencies of Russia (AKAR) with Gazprom Media acting as the key partner, the NRF Expert Club is a series of events leading up to the fifth National Advertising Forum. It is a space where industry leaders can discuss the latest developments in the media communication industry and determine how to act next.

The theme for this year’s meeting was “How Does the Advertising Market Plan to Adapt in the Face of a Perfect Storm?”. Representatives from leading communication groups, advertisers and media holdings gathered to discuss the factors that can significantly influence the behavior of the media market, summed up the key industry indicators for 2020, and voiced their forecasts for the future. Media expert Kseniya Boletskaya moderated.

CEO of Gazprom Media Holding Alexander Zharov shared his vision and also took part in a public talk. 

The TV industry will continue to develop
The roundtable participants discussed the prospects of TV advertising, which succeeded in overcoming the economic turbulence of the past year. Advertisers started to invest more in television ads towards the end of the year—the share of TV ads in total advertising spending has increased for the first time since 2009. The structure of the advertising market is also changing. According to the NRA, the share of domestic brands exceeded those of foreign ones for the first time. This segment is expected to see further recovery in 2021 and growth when compared to 2020.

At the same time, there has been a noticeable change in terms of television viewing, which began during the pandemic. According to Mediascope data, a second primetime slot was formed during the day—from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.—in the first wave of the pandemic. Television viewing increased by 31% during this time (weekdays, viewers aged 4+). During the fall’s restrictive measures, this slot shifted to later in the day, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 

It is expected that these changes in media consumption habits will lead to the diversification of advertising tools, as well as changes in the broadcast schedule. 

“It is very likely that in 2021 this may lead to a change in programming. If this trend is sustained, we will need to produce more content,” said Zharov, also noting a growth in TV viewing among children and the company’s plans to expand its animated content line. 
PREMIER’s development and new video services  
The head of Gazprom Media noted that the PREMIER online movie theater has seen an increase in audience indicators over the past year. Thus, according to data spanning the period from the launch of the service until mid-November, two-thirds of the 729 million video views on PREMIER came in 2020.

“The number of paying subscribers of the service has tripled over the year, and we consider this to be a steady trend. Next year we will have many premieres and original, exclusive content. Most of the original content will be produced by our studios, Good Story Media and 1-2-3 Production. The talented production companies that are part of our Holding are one of our biggest competitive advantages,” said Zharov.  

It will also be possible to watch PREMIER’s content for free in 2021 using an advertising model. This will give users a choice between different options for viewing content, as well as attract a mass audience and get more subscribers quickly. As Zharov noted, the video service needs to have 10 million subscribers to reach payback. Over the past year, PREMIER presented 15 brand new projects, and the total number of views of its content from the start of the year to the end of November was more than 158 million hours.

Gazprom Media will also launch two video platforms over the next two years, which will make it possible to place user-generated content (UGC). According to the Holding’s CEO, one such platform will appear in 2021 on the basis of the updated Rutube video service, which Gazprom Media will develop and modernize. The second platform will be set up a year later.

Content personalization and big data
Alexander Zharov noted that the future of the media industry is in the diversification of content distribution and personalized communication, both in terms of content and advertising. As a result, Gazprom Media will put even more effort into boosting its projects related to the processing, analysis and use of big data.

“Digital performance will play a huge role, and personalized advertising is the future that we are looking towards. Data and the content personalization they facilitate are the most important areas to work on. We are bringing in leading technical specialists, developers, and analysts to work on such projects. We expect to see a visible payoff in 2022,” Zharov concluded.