The Future’s Bright, The Future’s ‘Kombinowac
Stephan van den Bremer, European Managing Director and Mirek Wasowicz, Sales Director, Central and Eastern Europe explain why the country is good for business.
Stephan van den Bremer:
The Warsaw office was opened last month, although the company has operated in Poland since 2009. Initially, it was a hub for sales, but due to an unprecedented growth in the number of clients, local client service activities were later added. At the moment, the office focuses on on-site conversion optimisation, re-marketing, media optimisation and attribution.
Our original target was telecom companies, due to their receptiveness to online marketing technologies. In the past two years, the automotive industry has realised the value of digital marketing and caught up.
Poland is a huge market in terms of population, consisting of 38+ million people with internet penetration running at more than 60%. It is the largest online market after the ‘big five’. Penetration has doubled over the past four years.
Most of our incumbent clients in Western Europe have a presence in Poland, such as telcos Orange and T-Mobile, which makes it an attractive proposition. We decided to locate our premises in Warsaw because it is centrally located and most multinationals and agencies have a base here. We rent a space in a tech hub that is is akin to Palo Alto in California or Shoreditch in London.
Offering and Attitude
IgnitionOne offers software as a service and all the programming and engineering work remains in our development centres around the globe. However, we support this with the best local marketing and sales talent.
Mirek came to us because he really believed in the technology and had an exceptional entrepreneurial spirit, two qualities we value highly at IgnitionOne.
‘Kombinowac,’ roughly translates as ‘creating something from nothing’, and is key to Poland’s growth and prevalent throughout the fabric of the country. The country was oppressed for so long that once the wall fell we were hungry for the achievements of the West and were quick to adopt its values.
We Poles are playing catch-up, but because of our spirit, we are catching up fast. In other regions, if a client experiences a 3% increase in turnover as a result of our product, that’s a great result. This doesn’t cut it in Poland. In this territory, you need to be generating 10% or the client will engage with a competitor.
It is such an aggressive marketplace and wildly exciting as a result. There are some amazing creative marketers and sales people being produced by the local universities with skills we are keen to tap into.
A high level of engineering and mathematical talent exists across the region, a legacy from Soviet times. The Polish have an unmatched record in winning prestigious programming prizes, such as the Pioneers Festival Hackathon and the Google Code Jam. In time, we will be employing Polish engineers directly at IgnitionOne.
From a cultural perspective, it also makes sense to run an office out of Poland if you are looking to start doing business in Russia. It eliminates the risks of jumping straight in.
The market is very different in Russia, but because we were under ‘her’ rule, we have a much better understanding of many of that region’s nuances. This gives us a competitive advantage, and just like Russia, we too like to do business face-to-face. This is a very important trait in this part of the world.
Stephan van den Bremer concludes:
Demands and Growth Opportunities
In size, in professionalism and in technology, the market is burgeoning. However, as the cost of labor is lower compared to Western Europe, some things are different. In Western Europe, advertisers would like to minimise the usage of the contact centre, especially as a sales channel. In Poland, it is still an important channel. So, converting online visitors through a contact centre is very common.
On the media side, we notice ad technology developing rapidly, which has led to a couple of other RTB providers entering the market.
Without doubt, the opportunities for growth are impressive for us, comparable to the rest of Europe. Media agencies, advertisers in automotive, telco, travel, retail and finance are all fair game.