Breakthroughs in online industry in Europe in 2015
Marek Molicki, regional manager at Gemius, sums up the main events in the online industry for 2015 in Central and Eastern Europe.
Event of the Year
Without any doubt, the Event of the Year should go to – let’s call things by their name – the death of Flash. Adobe decided to finally end the existence of Flash, although the technology itself will continue to be in use under a different name – Adobe Animate CC. For as long as I can remember, Flash had been a technology that developers most complained about , and who would point out numerous flaws, including security gaps. It was certainly a group that welcomed the information about “the end” of Flash with relief. Flash will also not be missed by internet users, and without any doubt the industry will soon see the advantages of the new king – HTML5.
Success of the Year
Perhaps it is not directly related to the online industry, but it is certainly the best example of a success in creating a worldwide recognizable brand. Of course I am referring here to the premiere of CD Projekt’s "The Witcher 3". The last part of Geralt’s adventures puts a seal on a years-long history. It was (and still is) a best-selling blockbuster. What is more, thanks to it, CD Projekt has strengthened its position among the largest game producers. The success of “The Witcher” series has encouraged many gamers to look forward to the next product developed in this Warsaw-based studio. To prove that CD Projekt's success is not so completely detached from the online environment, it is worth noting that the company also owns GOG.com, another brand well known to gamers around the world, which is successfully competing with other websites offering digital entertainment.
Failure of the Year
The failure of the Polish government to take advantage of the internet’s full potential in facilitating the lives of citizens, or encouraging participation in elections (regardless of the fact as to whether they were interested in it or not). When, at the beginning of the year, I took part in the Visegrad Group conference, “V4 sharing e-government experience with Bulgaria”, and talked to other participants (mostly representatives of CEE and SEE countries), I realized that governments are not ready to face the new generation of citizens that cannot exist without the internet, smartphones, tablets or social media. It does not mean that nothing changes, but these changes are far too slow in relation to the dynamics of the new technologies.
Man of the Year
It is impossible for me to nominate just one specific person who deserves this title. Instead, I can point to a whole group of internet users who know how to use the internet, especially social media, to gather others to participate in important initiatives and events. From collecting signatures for important local matters through to collecting funds for those in need; or to those who form communities involved in the protection of important values, and those who are less active and simply click “Like it”. I feel that the time has come to finally redefine the notion of the fourth power. It is becoming more and more evident that it does not lie anymore in the hands of the traditional media, but with internet users.
Trend of the Year
The main trends remain unchanged. Mobile traffic is becoming more and more important, and in certain markets it accounts for 50 per cent of entire internet use. Interestingly, expenditures on mobile advertising is not as dynamic and in certain markets it is barely noticeable, which cannot be said for the entirety of online advertising. The past year, again, saw an increase in this respect and the following year should not be any different.
E-commerce is also flourishing. On Cyber Monday, sales value in the US exceeded three billion US dollars and mobile shopping brought 799 million US dollars profit. However, in CEE and SEE countries e-commerce is also becoming increasingly important. There are still challenges, though, that e-store owners have to deal with – for instance, encouraging users to make online payments. Let's also not forget programmatic, which was definitely a hot topic in 2015.
Forecast for 2016
The forecast for 2016 can be summed up in five terms: online advertising, e-commerce, video, mobile, and programmatic – in this exact order. As in 2015, 2016 expenditures for online advertising will increase; however, not all of us will notice it. The trend has been observed for some time and it can already be roughly assessed as to who will benefit the most and who – paradoxically – will lose as a result of the future spending increases. Undoubtedly, e-commerce will grow in importance, offline trading will turn online, and the winners will be those who not only offer the lowest price, but also provide the best logistics. E-commerce will see dynamic growth in SEE countries: there is still a lot to do, but the market has great potential. Online videos will gain in popularity, which, among certain age groups, is already much higher than that of traditional TV content. The same goes for mobile traffic – we browse more and more online content with the use of smartphones and tablets. This trend will be also bring the attention of advertisers. Last but not least – programmatic, which in 2015 was in the mouths of the whole industry. Unfortunately, the term “programmatic” began to be largely overused. I believe that in 2016 this situation will return to normal.