Tag Archives: Russia

BRIC countries lead advertising growth

Russia and India will record the strongest growth in advertising spend over the coming year, according to the latest Warc international ad forecast. It predicts that Russia will increase expenditure by 16.5%, followed by India (14.0 percent), China (11.5 percent) and Brazil (8.5 percent). The picture is very different outside the BRIC quartet, especially in Europe, where three countries – Germany (1 percent), France (0.8 percent) and Italy (-0.2 percent) – are now expected to record the worst year-on-year performances. All three economies are facing the possibility of renewed recession due to the eurozone debt crisis. Taking into account the likelihood of inflation, all three countries are likely to see a decline in advertising spend in 2012. The forecast for the UK is more positive, with predicted growth of 4.2 percent. But Warc, the marketing intelligence service, points out that the figure will be boosted by two sporting events – the London Olympics and European football championships. As for the United States, which is forecast to see a 4.1 percent increase in ad spend, its TV broadcasters will undoubtedly benefit from the presidential election. Indeed, across all 12 countries covered by the survey, TV is predicted to increase its share of main media advertising, growing by 5.3 percent compared to the overall media total of 4.5 percent. As for online advertising, the pace of expansion is expected to slow to 12.6 percent this year, down from an estimated 16.6 percent in 2011. The internet is expected to account for 20 percent of all media spend by the end of 2012.


The surge in world commodity prices since last August – an explanation for the layman

Principal reason is a a growth in global industrial production has been maintained at levels well above long term trends, which has tightened the underlying supply/demand balance in the markets.

  • In simple terms this is seen by increased demand in rapidly growing BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and other fast developing regions.
  • This is matched by a relative stagnation in ‘supply’ – crop yields are not rising anything like fast enough to meet shooting demand
  • Now the loss of oil supplies (Libya) has fuelled  this unease still further 

The beginning of a pattern of climatic incidents suggesting that global warming is having at least starting to have a major effect on regions of the world that are traditionally seen as the breadbaskets for food & vital commodities – acute droughts in north eastern China & in Russia in 2010; floods in Queensland and droughts in Western Australia and a similar story in places such as Argentina, the USA and Canada

  • As there is little or no excess margin in terms of ‘supply’ that can absorb this shock in a seamless fashion, price equilibrium is at risk as each bit of poor news fuels market uncertainty still further
  • This is made worse as, unlike oil, there is little or no concrete and reliable information on ‘physical commodity stockpiles,’ there was not a single real calculation when Russia banned grain exports after a damaging drought in 2010, so the market reacts to what little it knows
  • This lack of clarity is compounded by the weakness of bodies monitoring the financial instruments known as ‘standardised commodity derivatives’  – the European Market Standards Authority having a staff of less than 100 to monitor trades across 27 countries & the incoming US Republicans cutting the budgets of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission still further

The final, and “speculative” explanation is that the US Federal Reserve’s decision to expand liquidity (quantitative easing) has leaked into all risk assets,  including commodities, via financial market demand for these assets. If this is true, it implies that the Fed has imparted an adverse supply side shock into the world economy by raising the oil price due to a lower dollar rate (which ought to have some fairly profound implications for the future conduct of monetary policy around the world).

What’s this mean in simple terms – oil, wheat, corn is traded in dollars – a weak dollar means it is more expensive….with the debt celing hit in the USA in terms of the Federal Budget it is in all our interests that the U.S. deficit is addressed and some strength returns to the dollar.

Why this post? – Well Media Focus has been doing some work in this field and we thought it good to share some of what we’ve learnt…we’ve built some interesting reports for clients – looking at Influencer Network Analysis and then taking the findings through to their conclusions (see above).

How does this affect things moving forward? – This problem is not going away any time soon. The fragility of the balance between supply and demand is so delicate at the moment that a crop plague (one moving across the world right now, charmingly called Ug99) or a wider drought or an exceptionally bad winter or a spread of the tension from Libya to other oil rich nations – and boom – we all fall over the edge

What can we do – pray our politicians get it right as they seek to introduce curbs on the untrammelled speculation that is thriving in the commodity trading markets.  Hope for tighter regulation on that trade and for it to emerge sooner rather than later

Email spam falls sharply after Russian crackdown

You may not have noticed, but since late last month, the world supply of Viagra ads and other e-mail spam has dropped by an estimated one-fifth. With 200 billion spam messages in circulation each day, there is still plenty to go around. But police officials in Russia, a major spam exporter, say they are trying to do their part to stem the flow. On Tuesday, police officials here announced a criminal investigation of a suspected spam kingpin, Igor A. Gusev. They said he had probably fled the country. Moscow police authorities said Mr. Gusev, 31, was a central figure in the operations of SpamIt.com, which paid spammers to promote online pharmacies, sometimes quite lewdly. SpamIt.com suddenly stopped operating on Sept. 27. With less financial incentive to send their junk mail, spammers curtailed their activity by an estimated 50 billion messages a day. Mr. Gusev and SpamIt.com have been widely known in computer security circles, and he had lived openly in Moscow. Spamhaus, an international nonprofit that monitors global spam, listed the SpamIt.com organization as the world’s single largest sponsor of spam


Russian journalism students hit back with rival anti-Putin calendar

Six Russian journalism students released a rival calendar after their colleagues’ scantily clad version in honour of Vladimir Putin. Twelve scantily clad women oozing praise for Vladimir Putin versus six stern-looking female students demanding human rights – who will win Russia’s battle of the calendars? A day after 12 journalism students at Russia’s most prestigious university released a racy calendar in honour of Putin’s 58th birthday, six of their colleagues hit back with their own version, pointing to the murders and curbs on freedom under Putin. “Who killed Anna Politkovskaya?” asks Yekaterina Ulianova, posing, like all the young women, in a sombre black outfit with yellow tape sealing her mouth shut. Politkovskaya, a journalist who was one of the Kremlin’s toughest critics, was shot dead on Putin’s birthday four years ago today. The students in both calendars study at Moscow State University’s journalism faculty, which has produced some of the country’s finest journalists, including Politkovskaya. Some 50,000 copies of the first calendar have been printed, and are for sale for RUVB 259 at Moscow branches of French supermarket chain Auchan. The opposition calendar, for now, is only available online.


BBC World Service broadcasts in Burma face axe – according to Foreign Office sources

BBC is locked in talks with the government over drastic cuts to the World Service budget which could force it to withdraw from Burma and several other countries. The Foreign Office, which funds the World Service through an annual GBP 272m grant, has told executives to prepare for a possible budget cut of 25 percent from April 2011 as part of the public sector cutbacks. The BBC service in Burma is one of those identified by the government as under threat, according to a diplomatic source. The World Service Russian presence, which reaches about 700,000 listeners and a further 1 million through its Russian-language website, may also be vulnerable to cuts, according to BBC insiders. BBC sources said talks with the government would continue for six weeks, however, and claim no final decisions have been made. The outcome of the consultation will be known on 20 October, when the chancellor, George Osborne, outlines the scale of the government cuts in the Treasury’s public spending review. Although best known for its radio broadcasts the World Service also runs websites and TV stations in 32 countries in dozens of languages. It has a global audience of 241 million across TV, online, radio and mobile phones. The World Service was criticised for pulling out of eight countries in eastern Europe three years ago to fund new services in the Middle East, including a new Persian TV service.


Brazil, Russia, India, China and Indonesia will double their Internet users to 1.2 billion by 2015, fueling growth at media companies and phone carriers, according to Boston Consulting Group

Brazil, Russia, India, China and Indonesia will double their Internet users to 1.2 billion by 2015, fueling growth at media companies and phone carriers, according to Boston Consulting Group. By then, the countries will have three times the Internet users of the United States and Japan combined, up from about two times at the end of 2009, the consulting firm said in a report released last week. Personal computers will double in the five countries to more than 920 million, and mobile phones with Internet access will aid growth, according to the report. As consumers gain more access to the Net, they’ll spend more time online, providing a boon to entertainment providers, the report said. Boston Consulting added Indonesia to the group because of its 240 million population and its proportion of mobile-phone users, which at 66 percent is higher than China and India, said David Michael, the report’s lead author. Indonesia’s wireless subscriptions will top 100 percent of the population by 2015, meaning some users will have multiple devices, according to Boston Consulting. Twenty percent of China’s population owns a personal computer, and tens of millions get online at Internet cafes, giving China 384 million Internet users at the end of last year, almost triple the total in 2006, the report said. In India, only 7 percent of the population was using the Internet at the end of 2009, the lowest of the five countries in the report. Indian users spend half an hour online a day, and productivity functions such as e-mail and job-hunting are their most popular activities. That will change as media companies take advantage of the growth in users, which will reach 19 percent by 2015, Michael said. Internet users in Brazil and Russia will surge by 2015 to 74 percent and 55 percent of the population from about one-third last year, according to the report.


Russias Supreme Court: Web Sites Can’t Be Closed Because of Forum Posts

Online media outlets can only be shut down for extremist comments left on their forums if they fail to comply with official requests to delete the comments, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, RIA-Novosti reported. User posts on forums without moderation are to be treated the same way as live speeches on radio or television, for which the broadcasters cannot be held responsible, said Supreme Court deputy chief justice Vasily Nechayev. The ruling only covers forums of web sites that are registered as media outlets. Federal anti-extremist legislation allows courts to close media outlets that receive two warnings for extremist content, which includes promoting hatred based on ethnicity, social status and profession, as well as calling for the violent overthrow of the government. Promoting extremism is punishable by up to three years in prison and up to five years if done through the mass media. Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, authorities had the option of shutting down online media outlets for comments on their forums, even if the comments were not endorsed by the editors.


Russia’s drive to improve its image should be welcomed and embraced in the west

Russia, unhappy with its image abroad, has taken a fresh public relations approach to present a better view of itself and attract foreign investment.

One example is the Russian National Exhibition in Paris, organised by Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade and being opened by the country’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. It’s another attempt by Moscow to tell what it sees as the real story, different from what some Russian commentators call an excessively negative coverage of Russia in Western media.  In recent years, Russia has launched international English and Arabic news channels, hosted international economic forums and discussion clubs, started funding supplements in foreign newspapers and even hired some Western PR companies.

Large international PR agency Ketchum was hired to help Russia “shift global views” of the country prior to and during the 2006 G8 summit. It said afterwards that the main aim had been “to ensure that Russia’s openness, accessibility and transparency were widely communicated to participants and observers of the summit and to the media”. The Kremlin’s greater openness during that summit, and its dignified response to the recent tragedy of the Polish presidential plane crash, certainly sent positive signals abroad.

But experts agree that it will require much more to change Russia’s image than a number of PR moves, no matter how good and expensive. “It takes generations for a country’s international standing to change, and countries need a great deal of patience if they are serious about such things,” policy adviser Simon Anholt told the BBC.


Dmitry Gavra, Russian political expert and professor at the Saint Petersburg State University, believes that Russia’s image has been damaged by both historical “negative constants” and some recent developments. He highlights “image mistakes” made by Russian officials, a lack of institutional and structural reforms in the country and Russia’s recent attempts to return to the system of global competition in geopolitics, technology and economy as the new factors.

They have been combined with the usual perceptions of Russia as a country with an anti-Western attitude, always eager to expand and position itself as a missionary in dealings with its neighbours and the rest of the world. For example, gas rows with Ukraine and Belarus, seen by most Russians as purely economic disputes, were criticised by some Western opponents as Russia’s attempts to use its energy superpower status as a geopolitical weapon.

Mr Anholt says that one of the main problems for Russia is a very low number of “informal ambassadors” around the world, such as famous consumer brands or international media personalities that people like and associate with Russia. The country also does not have a big tourism profile. “Russia’s business and political figures usually seem to acquire their international profile for negative reasons,” says Mr Anholt. “The only international media stories about Russia generally relate to conflict or instability.”

Internal view

Mr Gavra also points out that it is impossible to separate internal and external images of Russia. Bureaucracy, corruption, the huge gap in earnings between wealthy and poor Russians, the low prestige of state institutions, relations between the police and the people – all these factors create a negative image of the country, even among many Russians.

“Of those Russians who spend their holiday abroad, some do not even want to admit they are from Russia and try to speak foreign languages,” he says. In turn, Mr Anholt believes that Russia does not come over as being very well disposed to outsiders. “The truth may well be rather different, but perception, unfortunately, always trumps reality,” he says. Positive moves

Experts agree that only big changes in Russian policy and in its dealings with the rest of the world could gradually improve the country’s image. The question is, though, whether Moscow is ready to implement these long-term changes and will not abandon them if the internal situation changes.

The Kremlin’s rhetoric for most of the 2000s alerted many in the West, who considered it hawkish and unfriendly towards private business. But Mr Gavra believes that “for many Russian officials, those things are right which are effective”. It was effective back then to be seen as tough, he says, but the situation has changed. “We already see important changes in the areas which matter to Russia’s Western partners,” says Mr Gavra. They include the new anti-corruption drive, new ways of dealing with suspected corruption and the rise of the internet. This has brought about a kind of “electronic democracy”, in which entrepreneurs can do much of their business online, avoiding queues and not having to deal with corrupt bureaucrats.

“These things will be better for Russia’s image than 10 economic forums,” says Mr Gavra. As Mr Anholt puts it: “‘What can Russia say to make itself liked?’ is simply the wrong question. “The only meaningful question is: ‘What can Russia do to make itself relevant?'”


Cyrillic Internet Domain names May Start Working This Week

Internet domain names using Cyrillic characters may start working this week after the world governing body for Internet domain names officially delegates the .рф domain to Russia. Representatives of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, may officially assign the .рф domain suffix to Russia at the Internet Governance Forum, which begins on Thursday in Moscow, said Andrei Vorobyov, a spokesman for Ru-Center, a domain registrar. Once the .рф suffix, known as a top-level domain, is assigned, the Cyrillic domain names they have registered will become operational. ICANN in November approved the use of non-Latin characters in Internet domain names, clearing the way for domain names in Cyrillic and other national scripts. The first domain names using a non-Latin character set became operational last week, after web sites in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates began using Arabic script in their web addresses.


Internet agency approves domain names in native language scripts

Four countries and two territories have won preliminary approval to have Internet addresses written entirely in their native scripts as early as this summer. However, proposals for Internet addresses that would say “China” and “Taiwan” in Chinese will require a few more months of technical review. The delay is not over political disputes, but rather because the Chinese language can be written in two ways — using simplified and traditional scripts. Rules are being developed to make sure that addresses in either script go to the same Web sites. Since their creation in the 1980s, Internet domain names such as those that end in “.com” have been limited to 37 characters: the 10 numerals, the hyphen and the 26 letters in the Latin alphabet used in English. Technical tricks have been used to allow portions of the Internet address to use other scripts, but until now, the suffix had to use those 37 characters. With the addition of non-Latin suffixes, Internet users with little or no knowledge of English would no longer have to type Latin characters to access Web pages targeting Chinese, Arabic and other speakers. In January, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as ICANN, paved the way for an entire domain name to appear in Cyrillic for Russia and Arabic for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Added to the list this week are suffixes in Chinese for Hong Kong; Sinhalese and Tamil for Sri Lanka; Thai for Thailand and Arabic for Qatar, Tunisia and the Palestinian territories