“When we say that only elderly women use Odnoklassniki and schoolchildren — TikTok, we are lying”

Media researcher and secretary of the Union of Journalists of Russia Yulia Zagitova about how the year 2020 changed the media market

Now social networks know almost everything about users — as Yulia Zagitova, the media researcher and secretary of the Union of Journalists of Russia, notes, sometimes online services know more about us than our relatives. This year, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, has only increased the impact of social networks and other media products on our lives. About how the year 2020 has changed the media market — read in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

Social networks are growing and turning into “super apps”

Trends in the media market are invariably set by megacorporations and large media platforms, said Yulia Zagitova, the secretary of the Union of Journalists of Russia and media researcher, in a conversation with participants of Telecom Intensive conference of Tricolor, a Russian operator. At the same time, trends often “wander” around the world with some delay: for example, the trends that are relevant in the United States may appear in Russia only in a year or two.

One of these trends is the explosive growth in the popularity of so-called “niche” platforms in comparison with “classic” ones. Vivid examples of the former are TikTok social network and Twich streaming service. By classic ones, Zagitova means the older platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

At the same time, the audience of the same Tiktok is underestimated, Zagitova believes. “When we say that only wlderly women use Odnoklassniki and schoolchildren — TikTok, we are lying," she said and cited data from a Mediascope study of TikTok's audience in Russia. According to it, most of it (25,2%) are people aged 25 to 34 years, that is, as Zagitova notes, “quite a solvent audience to which you can sell something”.

However, the “classic” social networks have a more pronounced trend: they turn into so-called “super-apps” that can perform other functions besides the actual communications. On Instagram, for example, you can already make a purchase directly in a couple of touches (Zagitova notes that it is through Instagram that about 70% of users learn about new products). VKontakte has its own payment system, the possibility to make calls, internal app store, and even its own internal taxi service.

As you can see, this trend is also evident outside of social networks. For example, many banking applications, as well as many services of large IT companies, are moving this direction. As an example, we can cite the recent consolidation of all “transport” applications of Yandex into one YandexGo.

The victory of legal and vertical videos

The vertical video has bypassed the horizontal one, says Zagitova. In her opinion, the “acceleration” of the growth of this segment of video content was also given by the appearance of stories on Instagram and other social networks, but if earlier vertical shooting was in some way a bad idea, by now we can talk about the victory of vertical video. They even shoot TV series in this format now.

Another fairly obvious “video trend” is the growth of the audience of online cinemas, especially against the background of the pandemic. “People during the pandemic tried out all sorts of online cinemas. A powerful marketing work was carried out during the pandemic," Zagitova believes. Besides, the fact that online cinemas have now become a more convenient way to consume video content than pirate sites has also played a role.

The cases of Nexta and Kushtau

Another typical trend in recent years is the explosive growth of communities associated with the reaction of users to a particular high-profile event. The year 2020 has showed several interesting cases at once — for example, a sharp increase in the audience of Belarusian Telegram channel Nexta to 2 million users against the background of protests in the country. As Zagitova adds, one advertising post in Nexta now costs about $6,000. As another example, Zagitova cites the growth of the communities defenders of the Bashkir shihan-hill of Kushtau.

In parallel, local communities are also growing — this, according to Zagitova, is due to that targeting technologies are reaching a new level. An example here is geo chats on Telegram that appeared in 2019. However, in addition to geotargeting, there are many other targeting technologies — for example, tracking user behavioural factors, based on which, for example, you can now predict the probability of conversion for a particular ad.

Data leaks and regulation of the Internet

Zagitova calls numerous leaks of personal data of users a separate trend, although quite sad. “Leaked data is, unfortunately, the norm, and now we can't protect the content that we produce," she believes.

There are many examples of data leaks, from Facebook user data leaks to online passes issued in some regions during self-isolation.

In many ways, it is because of the numerous leaks, by the way, Facebook was the first in a kind of “rating of distrust”, compiled on the basis of research by Western research company Insider Intelligence. In general, the top five of the rating looks like this:

  • Facebook — because of data leaks, as well as a strict content moderation policy;
  • TikTok — because of the processing of user data abroad, which led to a confrontation between the administration of the social network and the US authorities;
  • Twitter — also due to deleting posts and accounts;
  • Instagram — similar to Twitter;
  • YouTube — similar to the previous two social networks.

It is virtually impossible to protect yourself from data leakage, Zagitova believes. “People themselves give data to corporations, the laws on oblivion do not work. The Internet knows everything about us," she says.

This leads to another trend — increased regulation of the Internet by states. The trend is typical not only for Russia with the Yarovaya Law and “the sovereign Internet” or China with the “great firewall” — the US has a law that recognizes anonymous annoying or offensive mailing as a crime, and the European Union is developing a “code of conduct on the Internet”.

“Regulation is the normal development of any product. First it enters the market, they start using it, then they start regulating it," Zagitova concluded.

The media researcher's master class was held in Sochi, where a Telecom conference on technology development has been held these days with the participation of journalists and bloggers.

By Alexander Artemyev