Online Marketing and Lead Generation in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan and the Internet (Kaznet)
The Republic of Kazakhstan, once a republic of the former Soviet Union, is now a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States and is the 9th largest country in the world in terms of geographic area and the largest landlocked country in the world. In terms of population Kazakhstan is the 62nd largest country in the world with an estimated population of 16.6 million people, 34.3% (5.3 million) of which are internet users, an increase from just 70,000 in the year 2000. The Gross Domestic Product of Kazakhstan has also increased by almost 300% between the years of 2005 and 2010 showing increasing economic health. Facebook users in Kazakhstan have increased by more than 69,500 to 362,000 in just 6 months.
Internet Advertising Market in Kazakhstan
Estimates have placed the value of the internet advertising market in Kazakhstan as high as 10 million but this is less important than the estimated 30% yearly growth. The percentage of revenue generated from the internet in Kazakhstan expressed as a proportion of revenue from the telecommunications sector rose from 28.1% in 2010 to an amazing 61.5% during the first six months of 2011. These reported figures suggest that Kazakhstan has a huge growth potential in terms of internet advertising and lead generation activity.
Search Engine Market Share in Kazakhstan
Search engine market share in Kazakhstan is dominated by Google at 87% of the market and split between Google Kazakhstan, Google Russia and Google UK with a 45%, 22% and 20% share respectively. Bing and Yahoo follow both with a 2% market share followed by 7% shared between a number of different search engines including Baidu (China) and a host of other country specific Google and Yahoo search engines such as Google Hong Kong, Google Italy and Yahoo UK.
Economic Development in Kazakhstan Spurs Internet Growth
After the initial difficult transition from Soviet rule Kazakhstan has managed to progress steadily towards a market economy and has seen massive economic growth partly due to its large reserves of oil, gas and minerals. Kazakhstan was the first former Soviet republic to repay 100% of its debt to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and it did so in 2002 and also achieved an investment grade credit rating from a leading international credit reference agency in the same year. It was the first country in the Commonwealth Independent States to do this. Since then Kazakhstan has become one of the leading exporters of uranium, has seen many of the top international telecommunications companies entering into the telecoms market such as Lucent, Motorola, Alcatel, Siemens and Nortel networks. This has enabled the wide range availability of internet services to increase due to improved internet infrastructure as well as the number of subscribers, even though internet penetration is still low compared to all western European countries.
Social Media in Kazakhstan
The main internet service provider (JSC Kazkontent) reported that 37% of their subscribers use social media sites and 27% prefer forums. Just 11% are reported to prefer blogs. A survey carried out by the Institute of Political Solutions reported that 64% of internet users were active in social media sites with 64% of social media users preferring “My World” followed by 25.9% who prefer “Odnoklassniki.ru” and 22.7% who used “Vkontakte”. Facebook is increasing in popularity with 12% of social media internet users using the US-based social media site. The average Facebook CPC cost in Kazakhstan is $0.53.
Mobile Internet in Kazakhstan
Mobile internet usage in Kazakhstan is relatively low with reports claiming that just 12% of Kazakhstani internet users access the internet from their mobile phones and that is usually done on a phone using GPRS/WAP technology. This being said there is rapid advancements in terms of preparing the country for faster mobile internet and Kcell has already installed the technology for 4G Internet. No 4G licences have yet been granted but this is a healthy sign that the future of Kaznet will be faster and offer exciting online opportunities for the mobile internet and Smartphones. This can be further appreciated alongside the Kazakhstani government plan to give tablets to all school children by the year 2020.
Religion and Social Media
It is reported that more than 70% of people in Kazakhstan are Muslim and even though this is the case there are more female users of Facebook in Kazakhstan than in Libya, Oman and Yemen. The percentage of male and female users on Facebook in Kazakhstan is 53% and 47% respectively compared to 67% and 33% in Libya. Oman has 69% male Facebook users compared to just 31% female. Yemen shows an even greater contrast with 77% males using Facebook compared with only 23% females demonstrating that females are more active online in Kazakhstan potentially representing a greater opportunity for women and female products in terms of online marketing and lead generation.
The Future of Kaznet and Internet Marketing
Already Kazakhstan has increased the number of broadband internet users to a reported 1.7 million people as of January 2011 and the average price of DSL connection has dropped dramatically from a whopping $3,000 a month in 2008 to just $32 a month in 2010. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Communication and Information has stated that Kazakhstan will achieve 100% broadband coverage by the year 2013. These developments represent fresh opportunities for internet marketers to initiate rich media content campaigns to attract an increasingly hungry audience previously prevented from everyday internet activity due to the high cost. The increasing number of Kazakhstani online businesses will be able to benefit from lead generation campaigns and will be eager to embrace industry experts from around the world able to offer high quality leads. The Internet Association of Kazakhstan (IAK) is already battling to introduce copyright law on original content which will address the issues of intellectual property and can be contacted for further information on the internet (Kaznet) in Kazakhstan.