The new edition of E-Bulgaria report (published annually by Vitosha Research) contains some interesting insights about Internet penetration in Bulgaria and how Bulgarians use the technology.
Even though the research predicts over 33% Internet penetration in January 2007, things are not looking much better for people who seek to make money in the Bulgarian Internet in the short term. Bulgarian users use the net mainly to communicate with relatives, friends and business partners. ICQ, Skype, Yahoo Messenger and IRC chats are leading the chart of the most used online applications (in that order). The next in popularity among the online activites are downloading/streaming movies, music and playing online games.
Disappointing 2% of the population have been involved in online shopping once or more in the last three months. Online population in Bulgaria has more buying power than the average for the country, yet, it views Internet mainly as an enthertainment and communications channel and not as a way to make business or shop.
In spite of that, internet marketing is now considered an integral part of the marketing mix by most companies. On average, 3% of the marketing budgets are now directed to online advertising and promotion. The tendency is for that percent to grow.
An interesting indicator about the role of SEM in that mix is that among other tracked characteristics of business websites in the survey are “Google PageRank” (average PR of all websites included in the survey) and “Predicted Google PageRank” (again average). For those curious, the values are around 2.5 average PR for most groups of business websites. The number is not suprising, given the size of the Bulgarian web.