Online: winning fast and big

Online has been the absolute winner of lockdowns, and keep on growing continuously. It has reached 51% in the overall ad spending of the region, and has pushed its average share to 39%.

Many of our experts highlighted that a shockingly big proportion of money spent on digital advertising in region is simply drained away by global giants. In Estonia, 85% of all digital spending went abroad. Anita Király, COO of Media Services at Café Communication says that with subtracting the portion going to global platforms and counting with the real inflation value, the Hungarian ad market is rather declining than growing. It makes it obvious what decisive effect digital giants have on small CEE-markets.

New age cohorts were drawn to online media during the pandemic, and they are here to stay with their newly found digital literacy: older age groups sometimes generate even more dynamic growth than younger or middle-aged ones in online media consumption. 

Video content is propelling this upward trend. Social platforms are shifting towards video-based content, and for brands, it is becoming a must-have instead of a nice-to-have advertising instrument.

Lockdowns also boosted consumption on mobile devices, and not just content consumption, but e-commerce as well. Mobile impressions are crucial in campaigns that strive for the attention of a mass audience. In Ukraine, for instance, the share of mobile reached 68% within the whole of digital advertising.

The weCAN social media ranking indicates that the pandemic-catalyzed digitalization is reflected in social media penetration, too. The upcoming star of the past year was undoubtedly TikTok, and Central Europe is the fastest growing market of the Chinese giant. The steep growth of the number of Slovenian users, for example, shows the pace of the platform is gaining popularity in the region: just in the first half of 2021, the number of users grew by 47% compared to 2020. In Poland, TikTok is currently the third most popular social media platform, following Facebook and Instagram.

weCAN social media ranking

In the CANnual Report, data related to the number of users on Facebook were obtained from the advertising account of the platform. Percentage values show the ratio of users above 14 as the relevant age group for the advertising market within the whole population.

TikTok’s rapid expansion boosted video-content further, and other platforms were prompted to react. Instagram launched Reels, YouTube introduced the beta-version of Shorts, and Facebook is pushing its (often longer than the above-mentioned formats) video-content in its Watch section. Even though TikTok Business, the advertising platform of the app, is not yet available in all CEE-countries, companies from a wide range of sectors are keen to be present on TikTok to address the overwhelmingly young user base – if not through paid ads, then by influencer collaborations.

Despite the speedy success of TikTok, Facebook is still the most popular social media platform in Central and Eastern Europe. The apparent drop in the number of users this year has more to do with methodological reasons than with a real loss of popularity of before the pandemic. In addition to presenting potential reach as a range instead of absolute numbers in its interface, Meta carried out an extensive revision of its base data. These revisions are made regularly, but this time it proved to be rather drastic, with the potential worldwide Facebook reach falling by 7.3 percent (-167 million users), compared to October 2021.

Published: May 8, 2023

Dóra had obtained her Master’s degree in media communication, and after internships at global enterprises and local PR-agencies, she has worked in weCAN for more than 5 years. In the agency network, she is responsible for content creation and editing, project management and event organization.

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