Eastern Europe

Tim Lomborg

Managing Director, Awin Eastern Europe

2020 was a very special year with the COVID‑19 pandemic and its impact on our everyday lives and business. This year required a new level of flexibility in many aspects. We needed to rethink the way we organize our work as a team, adjust some of our existing processes to the new context, and adapt to the changes our business partners were facing…. all in a rather short period of time. What I learned from this is having the ability to adapt to rapid and unexpected changes is crucial to success.

Justyna Jowik
Country Manager, Refunder.pl

292.8m

Population

Various

Currency

79%

Internet penetration rate

8%

Ecommerce penetration rate
(% of total retail)

54%

Mobile penetration rate

$16.1b

Total ad spend (USD)

$8.9b

Digital ad spend (USD)

$170m

(AUD $357 million)

Affiliate ad spend estimate (USD)

11%

Projected ad spend growth 2021

2,017
Advertisers
6,973
Publishers
Share of sales by device
Share of sales by publisher type
22%
Loyalty & Cashback
18%
Social
16%
Coupon Code
12%
Sub Networks
10%
Content
7%
Search
5%
Email
5%
Display
4%
Tech Partners
1%
Comparison

Affiliate marketing is, in large part, the work of publishers - who must have been very challenged in 2020. Just like us, they had to face a new situation in the market. Thanks to close collaboration with our partners, we managed to overcome difficult twists and turns. We noticed our customers started to buy more carefully as they begun specifying exactly what they needed, and we responded to this trend with a tailored offer.

Katarzyna Górka
Head of Affiliate, eobuwie

Examining Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe fell very much into COVID-19’s ‘quickening’ camp as years of digital transformation unfolded in periods where national lockdowns were imposed. 

Poland was among the key beneficiaries of a sudden upturn in online revenue – the temporary closing of stores and resulting shift in customer behavior causing its ecommerce penetration to hit 73% in 2020, up 11% year-on-year. Over in Russia, online accounted for just 7% of all retail sales in 2019 but was expected to grow by 40% during 2020.

There are no doubts as to the influence of the pandemic here, but it’s intriguing to note that many nations in Eastern Europe avoided a second lockdown due to their authorities generally opting for more localized measures. Physical stores have been open for longer periods than some of their counterparts in Western and Central Europe, but ecommerce has ploughed on regardless. 

Affiliate marketing and its results-oriented model were a bona fide savior during the height of COVID-19 – the ramifications of thriftiness between consumers and advertisers leading to efforts intensifying across the channel. Launching a program represented one step in a much bigger journey for thousands of brands that migrated their entire businesses to online in the space of a few months. With Eastern Europe projected to ‘lead the way’ in terms of ad spend growth, returning to 2019 levels as soon as 2021, it will be interesting to see how recent events shape the allocation of these funds.

Many nations in Eastern Europe avoided a second lockdown due to their authorities generally opting for more localized measures.

As has been the case worldwide, the unplugging of Eastern Europe’s offline stores made double-digit growth a regular occurrence within most advertiser categories. Online grocery shopping entered several markets in a big way as consumers explored new methods of acquisition and delivery. Regional experts echoed those in other nations by predicting a bright future for new purchase models even after the restrictions on movement and distance are lifted. Certain channels were branded safe to use in 2020, but they’ll prove convenient for many years to come.

Across Awin, we saw growth for the majority of advertisers and especially in the Baby category, where revenue increased by over 200% compared to 2019. Sportswear posted a 100% year-on-year rise as customers looked to upgrade their home gym equipment, edging just ahead of Home & Garden at 99%.

Away from the places that would have expected an uplift during COVID-19, the impact of generally higher ecommerce revenue was felt in categories like Shoes and Fast Moving Consumer Goods - which saw increases above 80% in trying circumstances. 

The unplugging of Eastern Europe’s offline stores made double-digit growth a regular occurrence within most advertiser categories

These rates were continually aided by the special events that have found a good home in many Eastern European markets. Poland’s Black Friday brought a 25% increase in sales against 2019, but the prolonging of deals and campaigns ensured a strong performance over the entire Cyber Weekend and November on the whole. Coupon and Cashback maintained their dominance throughout 2020 with notable surges reported on Black Friday; though in a year where customers would have been expected to prioritize cost and value, it’s understandable that discounts were high on their agenda.

Aside from generally increasing numbers of new publishers, optimizing programs and adjusting to retailers’ ever-changing needs, Awin’s Eastern European divisions made headway on their mission to build more trusted partnerships across the channel. Another goal has been to introduce a greater number of small businesses to the wonders of affiliate marketing and its low-risk, high-value proposal. It’s a move that should help these retailers compete in an uncertain climate, but a secondary benefit will derive from linking publishers up to a much broader range of campaigns and partners in the near future.

Affiliate marketing and its results-oriented model were a bona fide savior during the height of COVID-19 – the ramifications of thriftiness between consumers and advertisers leading to efforts intensifying across the channel. Launching a program represented one step in a much bigger journey for thousands of brands that migrated their entire businesses to online in the space of a few months. With Eastern Europe projected to ‘lead the way’ in terms of ad spend growth, returning to 2019 levels as soon as 2021, it will be interesting to see how recent events shape the allocation of these funds.

Many nations in Eastern Europe avoided a second lockdown due to their authorities generally opting for more localized measures.

As has been the case worldwide, the unplugging of Eastern Europe’s offline stores made double-digit growth a regular occurrence within most advertiser categories. Online grocery shopping entered several markets in a big way as consumers explored new methods of acquisition and delivery. Regional experts echoed those in other nations by predicting a bright future for new purchase models even after the restrictions on movement and distance are lifted. Certain channels were branded safe to use in 2020, but they’ll prove convenient for many years to come.

Across Awin, we saw growth for the majority of advertisers and especially in the Baby category, where revenue increased by over 200% compared to 2019. Sportswear posted a 100% year-on-year rise as customers looked to upgrade their home gym equipment, edging just ahead of Home & Garden at 99%.

Away from the places that would have expected an uplift during COVID-19, the impact of generally higher ecommerce revenue was felt in categories like Shoes and Fast Moving Consumer Goods - which saw increases above 80% in trying circumstances. 

The unplugging of Eastern Europe’s offline stores made double-digit growth a regular occurrence within most advertiser categories

These rates were continually aided by the special events that have found a good home in many Eastern European markets. Poland’s Black Friday brought a 25% increase in sales against 2019, but the prolonging of deals and campaigns ensured a strong performance over the entire Cyber Weekend and November on the whole. Coupon and Cashback maintained their dominance throughout 2020 with notable surges reported on Black Friday; though in a year where customers would have been expected to prioritize cost and value, it’s understandable that discounts were high on their agenda.

Aside from generally increasing numbers of new publishers, optimizing programs and adjusting to retailers’ ever-changing needs, Awin’s Eastern European divisions made headway on their mission to build more trusted partnerships across the channel. Another goal has been to introduce a greater number of small businesses to the wonders of affiliate marketing and its low-risk, high-value proposal. It’s a move that should help these retailers compete in an uncertain climate, but a secondary benefit will derive from linking publishers up to a much broader range of campaigns and partners in the near future.

Awin Talks
Meet the market
Natalia Krolikowska, Head of Publisher Development for Awin Eastern Europe, speaks to Awin Talks host Rob Davinson about the state of affiliate marketing in the region. Recorded in January 2021.

Awin is one of our most reliable partners and was instrumental to our business across the past 12 months. In the very challenging year 2020 was, our colleagues from Awin offered continuous and transparent communication. Together, we focused on finding the best ways to address the changing needs of consumers and support the business of our mutual partners.

Justyna Jowik
Country Manager, Refunder.pl
7%
click through rate
Two weeks
to implement
50k+
product searches in one month
Figure 1

The perfect fit

7%
click through rate
Two weeks
to implement
50k+
product searches
in one month
Figure 1

Vogue Polska was looking to better monetize its digital content without disrupting the current reader experience, and identified ‘Shoppable Content’ technology ViSenze as its ideal partner.

Following a quick integration, ViSenze was live on Vogue - appearing on images as a small shopping cart that revealed additional, relevant products. 

This partnership demonstrates how third-party technology solutions can enhance results from affiliate activity for traditional publishers.

In recent years, the pro-environment trend has become more prevalent. Awareness is increasing and consumers are more conscious of their consumption. Companies are meeting environmental requirements in their product sales. When developing a strategy, whether for sales or production, it is worthwhile to take into account the trend towards less-waste and zero-waste, and that this is becoming a strong selling point with consumers. This trend will become even more pronounced in the coming year. Environmentally-friendly activities are an important trend that is now, not a choice, but a necessity for a modern company.

Katarzyna Górka
Head of Affiliate, eobuwie
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