What’s in a Name – the transformation of Russian media since February 2022

10 May 2022

This year, the Russian media market has changed fundamentally since the start of the conflict with Ukraine. The two main reasons for its transformation are:

  • the massive outflow of the largest advertisers for the ‘Lifestyle magazine’ advertisers, forcing some publications to close
  • the revocation of licenses of the international publishing brands such as Conde Nast & Hearst Magazines.

The overall impact has been a large reduction in the number of lifestyle publications in the market. Some publications having lost the rights to the brand, others have suspended the printed version of their publication due to the freeze on advertising activities. This process was slowly impacting the market over the last 5-10 years, due to the preference or many consumers to read the online version of a publication. Nevertheless, some lifestyle magazines continue to be published, and some publications have already resumed printing.

In March 2022, the Conde Nast publishing House announced its departure from Russia, which meant the closure of both the printed and online versions of Vogue, GQ, Glamour and Tatler magazines. Following Conde Nast, Hearst Magazines publisher left their Russian partners –Independent Media and Shkulev Media. As a consequence of the financial squeeze, most Russian media holdings have been hugely impacted and many publications have closed.

Shkulev Media Holding retained the right to a number of media brands in Russia, but stopped the release of Elle, Elle Decoration, Elle Girl and Maxim printed issues due to the lack of advertisers. While Marie Claire, Psychologies and Vokrug Sveta managed to retain the printed versions of the publication.

Independent Media has relaunched a number of internationally recognized publications under new names. Cosmopolitan became ‘The Voice’, Harper's Bazaar was renamed ‘The Symbol’, Popular Mechanics became ‘TechInsider’, Men's Health was relaunched under ‘The Men Today’ brand, Good Housekeeping has been renamed the ‘New Hearth’, Esquire changed its name to the ‘Rules of Life’. Their printed issues were put on hold until the Autumn, but now publication has been resumed. In June, 2022 the first issues of TechInsider and New Hearth were out on the market, in July — Rules of Life and Men Today, and in September – Grazia and The Voice. Instyle magazine was also relaunched under a new name, the first issue of ‘U magazine’ was released in June. In July, ‘Snob’ magazine, which had not been published for almost three years, also returned to print. The Russian editorial board of the popular science magazine National Geographic suspended publication of its online and printed version, due to decision made by Disney, which owned the resource. Instead, the National Geographic Russia team launched the new media ‘Russian Traveller’, which first printed issue was released in September.

Social media landscape has also changed. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are now no longer accessible for views in Russia since March, 2022. YouTube still works, but has paused monetization for the Russian market. As a result, the number of authors and the volume of published content has sharply decreased. Telegram messenger has benefited the most from blockage of the other foreign social media networks and by October 2022 its daily audience in Russia has increased by more than one and a half times to an increase of 58%. This is a record growth among all social platforms. The increase in daily published content in Telegram is also a record plus 24%. According to Brand Analytics the messenger has taken over the media role that Twitter used to play, as well as other forms of content no longer available in the market.

Other Russian social networks — VKontakte and Odnoklassniki have also a solid trend for the growth. Thus, in Vkontakte the increase in authors amounted to 3.8 million (plus 15%), daily published content — 13.2 million messages (plus 9%). The growth of Odnoklassniki is almost similar to the growth of VKontakte: 750 thousand authors (plus 13%) and 2.9 million pieces of content (plus 7%).

YouTube lost 513 thousand authors (10%) due to the ban on monetization, and the volume of content decreased (893 thousand, or 13%) as well. However, this platform continues to be the main source of video content in Russia.