#1 The Sunday Times Tech Track

Talk to us today

Online Lead Generation in Central Asia

The Internet in Central Asia

Central Asia, sometimes referred to as “Middle Asia” is the region of Asia that starts from the Caspian Sea to the west right through to China in the east and from Russia in the north to Afghanistan in the south. Central Asia covers an area of more than 1.5 million square miles and has a total population of 61.5 million people. The main exports from Central Asia are oil and natural gas with most natural gas sold to Russia who then exports to the rest of Europe. Recent reports state that Turkmenistan is in talks with China to start a potentially huge supply of gas to the east via the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-China (TUKC) pipeline, which could increase the value of gas exports for the region and create competition for Russia who will no longer be the major buyer. The countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are all Central Asian countries and the top three in terms of absolute internet users are Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Turkmenistan has only being included in the table below because it has the second highest GDP (PPP) per capita in the region and may yield a number of lead generation possibilities.

Top Central Asian Internet Countries and Turkmenistan Ranked by GDP (PPP) Per Capita


Country


Population


GDP
(PPP) Per Capita


Internet
Users


Penetration
of Population %


Facebook

Online
Penetration


FB
CPC


Kazakhstan


16.6m


$13,059


5,808,838


34.00


7.08%


$0.53


Turkmenistan


5.1m


$7,518


108,700


2.2


9.88%


$0.15


Uzbekistan


29.5m


$3,293


5,573,148


20.00


2.43%


$0.32


Kyrgyzstan


5.4m


$2,380


1,101,725


20.00


3.00%


$0.25

Social Media in Central Asia

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan lead in terms of Facebook users and in terms of daily unique visits to facebook.com and youtube.com. Kyrgyzstan does have a level of Facebook and You Tube activity while Turkmenistan internet users are not active enough on the social media sites covered to generate any figures.

Unique Daily Visits to Social Media Sites (N/A = Not enough data)


Country


Facebook


Twitter


You
Tube


LinkedIn


Kazakhstan


150,000


15,000


15,000


N/A


Turkmenistan


N/A


N/A


N/A


N/A


Uzbekistan


30,000


N/A


20,000


N/A


Kyrgyzstan


20,000


N/A


15,000


N/A

Low Facebook penetration suggests that there is still room for social media growth in all Central Asian countries, especially since there are just as many daily visits to Vkontakte.ru (Russian keep-in-touch website) as Facebook in Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan sends more visitors to Russian keep-in-touch website Odnoklassniki.ru than any other social media site with almost 100,000 unique visitors daily. Although many of the social media figures appear low it has been reported that more and more Central Asian internet users are turning to Facebook because of the flexibility and the way it can connect like minded people together. As with many other countries, political issues have begun to encourage the use of social media sites like Facebook in Central Asia and increasing numbers are expected in the coming months and years.

Top Facebook Properties in Central Asia

The top Facebook brand in Kazakhstan is Chocolifeme, a group buying website. This appears to suggest a keen interest in discount online purchasing via collective buying strategies. Chocolifeme.kz receives 20,000 unique daily visits from Kazakhstan. The second most popular Facebook brand in Kazakhstan is Kcell, a major mobile phone network operator offering mobile voice and data as well as 3G USB modems and mobile TV. The top Facebook brand in Uzbekistan is Beeline, a mobile network operator which has already launched a 4G LTE network in Tashkent and has begun tests. Their high speed mobile network is expected to be up and running in the spring of 2012 and will most likely increase the number of mobile internet browsers using smartphones, increasing social media activity in Uzbekistan even more.

Internet Censorship in Turkmenistan

The Turkmenistan government openly practices internet censorship claiming that it is to prevent Islamic extremist using social media to fuel their movement. Consequently there has been a Facebook membership decrease of 36.58% over the six months leading up to February 2012. In response to the censorship a number of local social networks have been created that have not been blocked and internet savvy Turkmen are hopeful that this will allow Turkmenistan to rapidly develop culturally and technically. A number of e-commerce websites have also emerged and internet entrepreneurs operating in the region are anticipating a positive response. Any internet marketers considering on lead generation within Turkmenistan are advised to avoid political issues completely and concentrate on products and services.

Search Engine Market Share in Central Asia


Country


Google


Yahoo


Bing


Other


Kazakhstan


90%


2%


2%


6%


Turkmenistan


87%


-


4%


9%


Uzbekistan


92%
(14% product search)


-


2%


6%


Kyrgyzstan


83%


3%


5%


10%
(3% Yandex – Russia)

Search engine market share in the Central Asian countries listed demonstrate a clear preference for Google with Google Product Search being used extensively by Uzbekistani internet users. This apparent product comparison search coupled with the interest in Kazakhstan in collective buying, suggests that a lead generation campaign based on a product review and comparison website would receive a ready audience in Central Asia.

Top Search Terms in Central Asia and Insights

The top search term in Uzbekistan is “скачать”, a Russian word which translates into “download” and a rapidly rising search term is “Stefan.ru”, a game download website. Amongst the top search terms in Kazakhstan are “download” and “game” which suggests a fairly similar interest to internet users in Uzbekistan. In Turkmenistan the two search terms “download” and “free download” searched in Russian reveal the same pattern as the rest of Central Asia for the selected countries. Unlike many other markets investigated where the top search term is usually “facebook”, Central Asians appear to be preoccupied with downloading games. This heightened interest in downloads suggest that providing free interactive games would be very successful method of generating traffic. Smart internet entrepreneurs may consider creating free mobile applications with games and social media connectivity. Product comparison and review websites regarding telecom products and services would also receive a ready market based upon the interest in mobile network operators highlighted by Facebook activity in the region

Spread the Word!