'The Rise of Programmatic Ad Buying in Turkey', by Jem Djemal, Commercial Director, The Exchange Lab Turkey

Turkey is Europe’s fastest growing market in terms of online display spend, registering 30% year-on-year growth in 2012 alone[1]. As an emerging market it has parallels with early-stage UK growth, along with all of the opportunities that go with it. With a population in excess of 73 million, and an online audience of 34 million[2], Turkey also boasts one of the youngest demographics in Europe. This demographic has contributed to Turkey having the highest Internet usage in Europe[6], rapidly rising ecommerce activity and heavy use of social media.

The Turkish online advertising market was worth €368m[5] in 2012, with display spend increasing to €146m, or 40% of the total. Display advertising growth is predominately fuelled by ecommerce advertisers looking to embrace new and more innovative ways to extend reach beyond search. Many ecommerce advertisers have assembled in-house teams with strong online marketing backgrounds to ensure that they are maximising revenues from digital channels.

As performance and ROI metrics are of paramount importance in this sector, ecommerce advertisers have been early adopters of programmatic ad buying and are increasingly building marketing plans around the data and insights gathered from real-time reporting. Other more mainstream advertisers are testing the RTB waters as well, focusing on strategic brand extension and international campaigns.

Understanding online user behaviour and the path to purchase is imperative to comprehending local markets. Ninety-nine percent of Turkish Internet users go online to research future purchases, which is higher than the EU average[2]. This incredibly powerful statistic emphasises how much influence and impact online has on the consumer decision making process. Turkish user behaviour shows that product reviews and social media websites, where users can share opinions, information and experiences, hold huge sway over brand and product perception. As a result, it’s no surprise that Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and even LinkedIn are hugely popular consumer destinations, and therefore make up the lion’s share of the ad market. App Appeal[3] states Facebook is the second most popular site in Turkey, with comScore ranking the social media network as the most popular destination for online video, averaging 17 million viewers a month[4].

Online video (also available to be bought through programmatic buying techniques), is a powerful medium, not just in terms of reach but also engagement, offering brands the opportunity to align brand values alongside content to specific demographics. Online video engagement in Turkey, according to newmediawatch, showed significant differences by ages and gender, with males between the ages of 15-24 the heaviest consumers, watching up to 20.8 hours of online video content a month[4].

It’s not just about how users are consuming online media, however, it’s also about how they are connecting and in what environments. This knowledge allows advertisers to plan and buy media targeted by device and enables them to tailor messaging as well. The device proliferation and fragmentation that we have seen in more mature markets such as the US, Germany and the UK is not yet mirrored in Turkey. Online access is still dominated by desktop and laptop, but mobile internet penetration is on the rise, with 11 million[2] using their smartphones and tablets to connect to content on a daily/monthly basis. This trend is likely to continue as smartphones and tablets are more widely adopted.

There are also signs that the Turkish Government is serious about developing the digital infrastructure to sustain the level of growth that Turkey has enjoyed to date, thus ensuring both consumer and advertising momentum is maintained, perfectly positioning Turkish advertisers to adopt and leverage the benefits RTB or programmatic ad buying delivers. The programmatic approach promises much, allowing clients to deliver targeted advertising without compromising scale and reaching audiences to a degree not seen before.

The larger agencies in Turkey have historically faced challenges around the adoption of new advertising strategies, as clients have favoured more traditional media channels such as TV. However, the successes ecommerce advertisers are enjoying within the digital space are helping to drive change. Key to unlocking the full potential and benefits of digital advertising is fully understanding deliverables around transparency, accountability and ROI. It is the data and insights gathered that are proving attractive incentives for digital marketers to embrace programmatic buying and innovate in the digital space.

Programmatic buying can combine multiple digital channels such as display, social, video and mobile, along with audience targeting and data-driven campaigns. This allows advertisers to attribute real value to their digital marketing activity, and is why programmatic is such an attractive proposition. Our experience in other markets, along with the current trends we are seeing in Turkey, tells us that Programmatic will accelerate as its success attracts additional spend from more traditional media channels. Turkey is a market to watch.

  1. IAB Europe presentation at IAB Interact May 23-24 2013 (slide 27): http://www.iabturkiye.org/sites/default/files/interact_2013_adex_presentation_v1.pdf

  2. IAB Europe’s Mediascope Europe media consumption study 2012: Click to download MEDIASCOPE_2012_TURKEY_SUMMARY_LAUNCH_PRESENTATION.pdf

  3. AppAppeal: http://www.appappeal.com/maps/facebook

  4. New Media Trend Watch, Turkey, July 2013: http://www.newmediatrendwatch.com/markets-by-country/10-europe/87-turkey

  5. IAB Europe research: http://www.iabturkiye.org/sites/default/files/adextr2012.pdf

  6. comScore found that internet users in Turkey spent the greatest number of hours on the web out of any of the other European countries studied—31 hours in December 2012. http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Digital-Ad-Spend-Turkey-Jumps-Consumers-Post-High-Web-Usage/1009856