How are trends in the digital sphere changing in Bulgaria under the influence of market dynamics and economic factors?
Economic and political factors significantly influence the behavior of the Bulgarian consumer, and this also determines the behavior of brands in the digital environment. Strengthening during a crisis situation, however, prepared the media and advertisers for any situations and market changes. Therefore, now there is no turbulence, and the market reacts stably.
Television groups worldwide benefit from the opportunity to use the entire resource and production quality of news and entertainment titles to create highly valuable and exclusive content for the web. The consumer in a digital environment is not tolerant of compromises or content not intended for them. For this reason, the fight for his attention can only happen with a lot of creativity, the right targets, quality and related content, combined with the basics: intuitive design and platform functionalities, responsive display and video, flawless technical performance on all devices.
The battle for attention, clicks, leads, time spent on the site, loyalty and frequency of visits has been particularly fierce in the last few years.
The COVID crisis has reaffirmed our intentions to bet on strong digital development, which will become the engine for business growth. We used the situation to restructure our digital priorities and started working more towards diverse and targeted content created for the web environment. Our strategy is very clear: we use the entire ecosystem for infotainment, news and exclusive digital productions. By the entire ecosystem, I mean social channels, media's own digital channels, TV and radio. More than ever, the synergy between platforms is crucial and working to retain and entertain, educate or inform the consumer, 24 hours a day.
Will digital content succeed in usurping the function of linear content? What are your expectations in this regard?
Here we should rather talk about a complete synchronization and connection between digital and linear content. Media has long adapted to today's dynamics and delivers new forms of content that cannot be defined as linear or web-based. Our prime time shows have its own digital presence in the form of additional episodes for the online environment. Linear TV has a sustainable and significant presence, but our role is to provide a new type of presentation of information and communication with the viewer. Established as the traditional choice for consumers and advertisers, linear media service is no longer sufficient on its own – especially for consumers who want to choose content based on interests and time to consume. That's why we provide the full palette of premium content, on all devices, from anywhere, at any time. The investments in digital platforms that bTV Media Group has made over the past few years are visible, both to the market and to consumers.
Can you outline which age groups "hang out" more often in a digital environment?
Internet consumption knows no age limits. It's like asking if there are age groups that don't use cell phones. Content defines the target, so its diversity is a criterion for preferences. We target both younger and mature target audience. So called "Millennials" (27 - 42 years old), as well as Generation Z (11 - 26 years old), and even the youngest live on the Internet. Their behavior is determined by absolute mastery of the technology that is part of their lives, and which they consume as much and as long as possible. The Internet is among their main media channels, intertwining both the experience of the previous generation and the innovations of the youngest. The so-called "boomer" generation (59 - 77 years old) and generation X (43 - 58 years old) are those who get used to new things but look for content in a digital environment and consume often. We create diverse content for all groups of people. Among the most attractive age group for advertisers are people 25-45 years old, who make an informed choice when purchasing.
Could you commit to a forecast comment for bTV online sales on a yearly basis - observations and growth in 2023 vs 2022?
Thanks to the synergy between the media channels, reorganization of the teams and increasingly intensive work in the last few years, we can boast of double-digit stable growth on an annual basis, which is at a higher rate than the growth of the market. The reason for this is clear: advertisers and brands trust us and target where their potential buyers are. We managed to significantly expand the share of our digital portfolio, as a percentage of all people who use the Internet for Bulgaria. For 2022, our unique users are over 2.8 million and for the first quarter of 2023 they are over 2.9 million.
Unique users of bTV websites over the past year
2022 was our most successful year in digital sales, but we expect 2023 to significantly surpass that. This is also a criterion for the well-done work of the editorial teams, marketing, news and all other departments in the company. bTV Media Group's sales team is full of great professionals and is one of the most experienced in the market. I am glad to work with such motivated, knowledgeable, and adaptable people. And we get that value back from the market, through ever-higher investments in digital advertising.
How is your digital portfolio developing?
We strive to constantly update and supplement the portfolio, offering new opportunities for users and business partners.
Our main "digital stars" are the rebranded site btvnovinite.bg, which offers two new mobile applications - "Btvnovinite" and "I reporter", as well as a TikTok channel, pages on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. At the beginning of this year, we also launched "RADIOMATE", the new application of bTV Radio Group, which allows users to listen the radio stations N-JOY, bTV Radio, Jazz FM, Classic FM and Z-Rock for free and conveniently, as well as to follow breaking news headlines from all radio group sites.
The btvplus.bg platform is a leader in video content. It features a new design and managed to upgrade the classic model of a catch-up platform for TV content because it offers a large number of web-exclusive videos and video highlights. btvplus.bg and btv.bg complement each other as the main video platforms. In this way, the connection between the major top formats and their thematic extensions is stronger than ever to keep attention and increase the so-called "time spent" (time spent on the site) on our platforms.
btvplus.bg has placed itself since the beginning of this year as a leader in the number of users (according to Gemius) who are looking for premium titles, top formats and quality content. According to Gemius, the platform has been growing steadily every month since the first quarter of this year and in terms of page views. Extremely important to us are not only the traffic data, but also the "satisfaction" of the user entering btvplus.bg. With the new design and structure, the so-called bounce rate of the site is 9% lower, which is an important indicator of people's desire to view the content, and the time users spend on the platform has increased by 20%.
AVOD comparison of audience reach by month for 2023
Another important moment in our current digital development is related to the first anniversary in April and May of our new websites: businessnovinite.bg and btvsport.bg. These two brands provide the user with quality content in two of the hottest areas - business and sports. They develop at a high pace and growth, entering the leading ranking in terms of traffic and audience loyalty. Businessnovinite is the natural evolution of btvnovinite as a brand, providing more in-depth economic information and analysis on business topics. We are also extremely proud of btvsport.bg. According to Gemius, the site gathers over 1 million users every month, giving them the fastest and most useful and entertaining information about Bulgarian football, the premium championships from the UEFA football calendar (Champions League, Europa League, Conference League), as well as about other sports, sports personalities and champions, live match stats and more.
What place do alternative formats like podcasts have?
We are focused on creating video podcasts (5 different, targeted podcasts), video series and web-exclusive videos. Among our podcast titles are "Newsroom" with Anton Hekimyan, "About sports without clichés" with Petar Bakardjiev, "Business Video Podcast" with Zhivka Popatanasova, "Small Talks" with guest stars and "Two and a Half Gamers". Our exclusive sales offer, the so-called "key selling point", is to be among the leading major producers of local video content for the market. Content, through the power of technology capabilities, presents virtually unlimited opportunities for our partners to deliver their advertising messages to the audiences of their choosing. This leads to high results such as engagement and loyalty. Our analysis shows that the targeted audience responds the most, especially when there are messages made specifically for them and special creatives of the formats. In this regard and as a continuation of btvplus.bg's strategy "all video in one place, at any time", we are also creating a subsite, part of the AVOD platform, which will provide users with the opportunity to watch our podcasts and video series in one place. We say "watchable" podcasts for a reason because all the titles we make are also captured on video. Of course, exclusive digital video doesn't stop at just our podcast episodes. It is not by chance that we created "Ladyzone TV", "Women of Bulgaria", "ESG", "Corporate stories" and many other special video series.
What other highlights do you have planned in 2023 to meet the interest of increasingly demanding consumers?
We are currently working on several major new projects across our digital platforms with the aim of revolutionizing the user experience.
Very soon we will announce a complete rebranding of our Zodia.bg astrology site. The Bulgarian consumers are superstitious and rely on the messages from the stars, which are part of their daily life. Even for those non-zodiac fans who have more fun reading the forecast, we offer a lot of detailed information, both about the signs and their compatibility, as well as about the movement of the Moon, the influence of Mercury and other planetary aspects. We are also planning various widgets with entertainment elements. The site has a new structure, design and much more content.
The second major redesign concerns Dalivali.bg. In addition to a better visual identity, structure and intuitive way of presenting information, the weather forecast is distinguished by exceptional accuracy and speed, with greater detail and additional, so-called "marine data", forecast from seaside, facts about wave power, wind and more. Our goal is to be as useful as possible to people vacationing, traveling or located along the coast.
In this regard, the third major project that we will announce soon is subject to an important audience connected in one way or another to the sea, sea sports and above all to sailing. This beloved project of ours will give us the opportunity to create intriguing content and expand the fans of sailing, regattas, marine destinations and the free lifestyle. Together with members from both sailing and nautical organizations as well as water sports clubs we plan to surprise with the way this content is created, by people who sail and swim better than anything, i.e. the real experts. Our goal is to expand, educate and entertain the target group and infect even more fans with the passion for water and travel.
In conclusion, I can say that this year, as before, we are extremely busy delivering more and more diverse content to Internet users in an easy and intuitive way. There is much to surprise them with. Advertisers appreciate this.