"VK has been on the radar and interesting to our customers and
our customers' customers for a long time. It's really escalated
around the Olympics," said Gnip CEO Chris Moody. "They want a way
of understanding and measuring the results and the impact of what
VK, originally called VKontakte (meaning "in touch" or "in
contact" in Russian), led social network unique visitors in Russia
with 49.2 million unique visitors,
according to Comscore data from August 2013. Odnoklassniki had
37.8 million, while Facebook came in fifth place among Russian
users, attracting 11.9 million. VK claims today to
have more than 230 million registered accounts and over 55 million
average daily users.
Luxury and consumer electronics brands are among the advertisers
that could have particular interest in evaluating what Russian
speakers think of their Olympics-related marketing efforts. Gnip
serves as a
conduit between digital platforms that generate large amounts
of consumer data -- including Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook,
YouTube and Instagram – and companies that use the
information to monitor brand mentions or employ the data to enable
services including Oracle and Adobe.
Social analytics firm Networked Insights might be interested in
the newly-available Russian data feed. "I think social is local,
and I think people need to get more and more local," said Networked
Insights CTO Brad Burke. Networked Insights clients GE, Samsung and P&G will
have sponsorship stakes in Sochi.
There will be challenges, though, said Mr. Moody. In addition to
language barriers, people use different social sites differently.
"People for example will say VK is the Facebook of Russia, but the
reality is these platforms all behave differently…users will
take different actions," he said. "A like on one platform isn't the
equivalent of a like on another platform."
While Mr. Burke sees a need for such market-centric data, he
suggested some clients aren't quite in the same mind set, and are
laser-focused on the Super Bowl. "It's such a larger flagpole
event, so a lot of things are focused on the Super Bowl," he
Still, Mr. Burke said the VK data would help surface
Russian-specific memes, and will be particularly important for
brands to watch in light of the
human rights issues surrounding the Sochi games. Russia made it
illegal to disseminate what it deems "homosexual propaganda" to
people under age 18 last year. President Vladimir Putin has come
under fire for squelching protest movements and unfair treatment of
journalists and activists including punk band Pussy Riot and
oligarch-turned-political-opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
"Because it's in-country there are certain sensitivities this
time around," said Mr. Burke. "Brands are very concerned about how
the civil rights and the gay rights issue is going to play."