The Programmatic Globe: Turkey

Our head of Global Advisory Services goes deep on the state of programmatic and e-commerce in Turkey

Here at Sociomantic, we’re lucky enough to get to work with marketers in over 60 countries, helping them from our 17 offices around the globe to take advantage of the many benefits of programmatic advertising technology powered by local market expertise. In working across these diverse regions, one thing has become crystal clear: when it comes to e-commerce and programmatic marketing, no two countries are alike! And no one has a better view on the differences and eccentricities of these different markets than our VP Global Advisory Services, Lothar Krause.
That’s why we’ve invited him, with support from each of our local teams, to share unique, market-specific insights about the ins-and-outs, the ups-and-downs, the triumphs and challenges of programmatic advertising in each of the countries or regions that we are stationed. Next up: Turkey!

Sociomantic’s work in Turkey dates back to August 2012, when we launched our first campaign in the market. Though the company was still relatively young, we already had Turkish-speaking employees in our headquarters in Berlin — a city that’s home to the largest Turkish population outside of Turkey, around 200,000 people. So it just made sense to start by serving Turkish advertisers with programmatic display campaigns straight out of our Berlin home base. In March 2014, we finally launched our official Turkish operations with an office in Istanbul in order to strengthen our local presence in this challenging and exciting market.

Young Population, Hip to Digital

Turkey is a market that has been identified as an economic up-and-comer, having been included as a member of both BRICET (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Eastern Europe and Turkey) and MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey) — countries that are said by economists to be the next global commerce leaders. That said, Turkey faces unique challenges when it comes to (e-)commerce; after all, it straddles both Europe and Asia, and therefore its economic growth is influenced by the dynamics of both continents.

Turkey has an Internet penetration of 45.7 percent, which is considered low in comparison with the rest of Europe, but is relatively well-aligned with the other BRICET countries. More interestingly, according to eMarketer, almost 70 percent of Turkish Internet users are younger than 35 (based on data from December 2012). Digital growth is consequently driven by the young, and this is also reflected in the popularity of certain websites. It is no coincidence that Facebook penetration, for example, has rocketed up to 86 percent of the total online population in Turkey, making it the sixth-largest Facebook market. If you add the quick transition from feature phones to smartphones, a high mobile internet usage (62 percent growth in 3G subscriptions) and a notably high credit card penetration to the equation (70 percent according to BEKTAŞConsulting), you have a solid ground for a booming e-commerce industry.

Bargain Hunting in Retail: How Flash Sales and Shopping Clubs Boosted Turkish E-Commerce

Online retail is growing fast in Turkey, but logistics and distribution have not always been easy for retailers. As recently as 2012, consumers had to deal with long delivery periods due to the fact that the country’s geography made it especially difficult for retailers to deliver to some regions — logistics had to catch up with the demand. However, because demand from Turkish consumers has remained high, retailers have been incentivized to improve their logistics, and today we have seen a marked improvement, though some consumers may find that there is still room for more.

These initial problems did not stop Turkish consumers from buying, as they love to shop and negotiate for the best possible price. This bargaining culture also affects e-commerce, by making the sales season extremely important. Whether the back-to-school sale (which starts in mid-September) or holidays such as Valentine’s day, Mother’s day or New Year’s Eve, everyone in Turkey seems to be looking forward to the sales!

Still, around 40 percent of Turkish shoppers don’t settle for the cheapest products, instead favoring luxury items sold at a nice price — which can most often be found online on flash sales and private shopping club websites.

The diverse needs of Turkish consumers have set the stage for a range of targeted business models in the Turkey market according to Gözde Alemli, Sociomantic’s Commercial Director. Here she explains the evolution of the e-Commerce market in Turkey over recent years:

“2010 was the year of private shopping, 2011 was all about group buying sites, and in 2012 vertical e-commerce companies and marketplaces grabbed most of the attention. These are platforms where consumers go to buy products or services in a specific vertical, such as consumer electronics, cosmetics, accessories, baby products, and home decoration.

“In the second half of 2013, some players downsized or closed their businesses as a natural evolution of the industry. Therefore, the need for increased sales and more personalized approaches to drive loyalty started to become increasingly important for the players that remained. In this new stabilization phase, many of these companies began to invest heavily in programmatic display as a means to help them generate more sales and increase customer loyalty. In 2014, programmatic adoption among Turkish advertisers is still growing, alongside investment in data and mobile — two hot topics of the industry.”

Telco: A Highly Mobile Market on the Rise

Telecommunications is another industry with a bright future in Turkey. Interestingly, so -called “pop-ups” (pre-paid SIM-cards) have been the most popular subscription form to date, but contracts are slowly taking a foothold in the market. As smartphone adoption increases — with 124.4 percent growth between 2012-2017, according to eMarketer — Turkey’s youth will need to be connected everywhere, all the time. Turkish advertisers have been quick to react to this trend, which is reflected by the country’s annual mobile ad spend of 45M Turkish Lira (€15.6M).

Travel: Booming Domestic Tourism

While Turkey’s varied geographic landscape has given some retailers a headache when it comes to deliveries, it has opened many doors for the travel industry. Turkey’s beaches are a beloved destination for international holidaymakers and the recent rise of domestic tourism has further contributed to the industry boom. This has to do with higher income levels, more accessible travel booking services and, thanks to more Turkish citizens online, an increase in competition between travel marketers. For this reason, programmatic advertising can be a key strategy for Turkish advertisers who are looking to get their best offer in front of the right consumer before the competition.

A Market To Watch

While, like every market, Turkey has some challenges when it comes to e-commerce, it has also seen some remarkable digital growth in recent years. Dedicated traffic growth and customer loyalty strategies will be key for the Turkish online marketers looking to stay in the game as competition increases for the connected Turkish consumers.

In the coming months, Sociomantic’s main areas of focus in Turkey will be the ongoing local support of our clients, the adoption of CRM data as part of their programmatic display methodologies, performance maximization across the full funnel and the setup of smart attribution models.

Want to learn more about using programmatic display to drive sales growth and customer loyalty in Turkey? I’d love to meet you and introduce our wonderful Sociomantic Istanbul team at the Webrazzi Summit trade show, September 25th. Reach out if you’d like to connect at this event!

Check out previous posts in the Programmatic Globe Series:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. France