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Rambler announces end-of-year results in Russia

Rambler Media, the holding group for the Rambler search portal, have published their end of year results for 2006 today.

Report highlights:

  • Internet Revenue up 91% on year to US$28.3m (from US$14.8m in 2005)
  • 24.4m unique monthly users for Rambler.ru portal in Dec 2006, up 25% on last year
  • 2 billion monthly page views in Dec 2006, up 52% on year
  • Over 220m search queries per month
  • Acquisition of 51% of Russian social network damochka.ru
  • Acquisition of 51% of online banner exchange company Bannerbank
  • Acquisition of 51% of Price Express (price.ru), a leading Russian shopping comparison engine

There have been some significant changes over at Rambler this year, mainly the selling off of their TV business and the renewed focus on their internet property. As Robert M. Brown, Chairman of Rambler Media, commented:

2006 was marked by exciting developments in the life of Rambler Media. With the emergence of the internet as a new mainstream media in Russia and the significant growth in online advertising, Rambler Media made the strategic decision to devote its resources entirely to it’s internet business. The increased focus resulted in the sale of Rambler TV at the end of the year. Rambler Media appointed Mark Opzoomer CEO and Arthur Akopyan CFO in March 2007 to drive this continued focus. With Rambler Media now a pure online player, and attracting over 32 million visitors to its websites per month, the prospects are even greater for our business.

There is a hard path ahead for Rambler. They lost their second position place to Google earlier this year and the Mountain View arrivals are turning up the gears of their Russian operation to compete with market leader Yandex. Both of these engines have embraced rapid development of new tools for their users and notably, advertising systems for publishers.

In comparison, Rambler does not yet run its own contextual advertising system, relying on content from Begun.ru (who operates in a similar way to Overture of old). A more aggressive development plan from Rambler would seem to be in order if they want to compete and gain ground. These days, it is simply not enough to be a search portal, mind share is the name of the game.

However, it is not all bad news. Search marketers are reporting that conversions are often higher on Rambler than the other two major engines in Runet. This may well be due to the Rambler demographic. As the first search engine in Russia they have established brand recognition with the older, professional generation who are more likely to have credit cards and be looking to spend.

Dropping their TV ambitions should give them new focus and motivation to get ahead in their online business. The employment of ex-Yahoo! European Head Mark Opzoomer should also bring an experienced perspective on how best to challenge Google.

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Nick Wilsdon

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