Turkish Internet Industry: A Market Research Primer


Recently, one of the clients that I’m consulting for asked whether I can provide any detailed market research reports about Turkish Internet Industry. Not only that there were no such reports available (even for purchase), most of available online information was not structured and distributed across tons of websites. Thus, I decided to write-up a basic market research report that combines all the meaningful information I was able to find online.

However, rather than only sharing it with my client, I decided to make it available online. Why? Because Turkish Internet Industry has a huge growth potential and is a very attractive for foreign investors. However, the scarcity of public market knowledge may deter Turkey to realize its full potential. I hope, this research I’ve gathered will facilitate further awareness and decision making.

  1. High Level Facts on Turkey
  2. Internet Penetration and Engagement
  3. Total & Internet Ad-Spend
  4. E-Commerce Industry
  5. Social Media Trends
  6. Business & Entrepreneurial Context
  7. Top 10 Internet Properties & Top 20 Websites
  8. Buzzed Turkish Start-ups and Success Stories
  9. List of Resources

1. High Level Facts on Republic of Turkey:

Turkey is an Eurasian country of 74 Million people, about 50% of which below the age of 25.
It’s a member of G-20 major economies group, with a GDP growth rate larger than 5% since 2002 (USD 10,436 per capita in 2008).
It’s also an EU member candidate country, having formal accession negotiations since 2005.
Europe’s most populous city is located in Turkey, and it’s the beautiful mega-city of Istanbul.

2. Internet Penetration and Engagement

The Internet audience in Turkey was the seventh largest in Europe with 17.8 million visitors (excluding traffic from public computers and mobile), making it the second largest country in Eastern Europe behind Russia (31.3 million visitors).
When all the Internet users are counted in, Turkey’s Internet users add up to almost 27 million, making it the #11 worldwide.
The Internet penetration rate was only about 37% in 2007, as compared to the European average of 59%, which makes it very promising for future growth.
There were 7.5M broadband subscribers in 2007, which grew at a CAGR of more than 65% during 2005-2007.
There were 66 million registered mobile subscribers in 2008, which consitutes a 7.3% increase from 2008.
Turkish Internet population is young. 77% of users are between 16 and 34 years old.
An avarege active user have spent 7.3 hours per week on the Internet during may 2009.

3. Total & Internet Ad-Spend

Advertisers spent a total of USD 2.5bn in 2007 (for all media types), which is expected to grow to an estimated $4bn in 2012 or 2013.
The share of Internet advertising in total ad-spend has soared to 5,5% in 2008 – a 33% increase from previous year.
By 2010, Internet is expected to be third largest advertising area (7%), after TV (49%) and newspaper (31%)
Also, total Internet ad-spend is expected to hit USD 250M by 2010.
Google and Dogan Group capture a significant amount of advertising dollars by owning 4 sites each from top 25 websites. They’re followed by Microsoft, Facebook, and Yahoo in an order.
Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Turkey chapter was founded on 2007, and it’s expected to start full traffic and behavioral monitoring of its member sites during 2009. This is expected to strongly boost advertising confidence and facilitate more precise targeting.

4. E-Commerce Industry

Turks are behaviorally adjusting to buying online, total e-Commerce spend grew 90% on average each year during 2006-2008 (in local currency, Turkish Lira).
Total e-Commerce spend is expected to hit USD 9 BN in 2009.
Number of issued credit cards were 44 M in 2008.
Top 3 e-commerce and marketplace sites, in an order of their total transaction volume are Gittigidiyor.com, sahibinden.com, and hepsiburada.com.
Sina Afra, a senior eBay executive in Europe predicts the near future of the industry as follows:

• Strong entrepreneurship is expected along with market fragmentation, especially in the long tail.
• Turkish stand alone companies and brands can survive as independents, but are more likely to be aggressively pursued by larger companies.
• Some companies are expected to successfully pursue a multi-global strategy, perhaps using partnerships and acquisitions.

5. Social Media Trends

Turkish people are#4 on active Facebook user country rankings list, after USA, UK, and Canda.
Turkish social networking audience is reported to have spent 3.7 hours and view 427 pages on social networks in May 2009 on average.
About 66% of active internet users  have indicated that they created a profile on at least 1 social website , and 40% indicated they have created at least 1 blog.
Also, about 50% of active internet users indicated that they sometimes share their photos online, and 40% share videos.
Most popular social networks in Turkey (in approximate order): Facebook, Mynet (eksenim), Netlog, Yonja, Sevenload, and Zurna. Blogcu and Blogger are the most popular blogging platforms.
Forum-like community environments, such as
Eksisozluk, FRMTR, and online worlds, such as Travian are extremely popular.

6. Business & Entrepreneurial Context

Political and economic environment in Turkey is relatively stable since early 2000′s, due to single-party ruled government,  ongoing EU accession negotiations, and successful structural reforms.
Lately inflation rate is low, and currency exchange rates are relatively stable. All these positive indicators made Turkey the 15th most attractive destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world in 2008.
Government provides strong incentives for Technology companies and those who engage in R&D activities. Also, EU provides significant funding for technology projects that present socio-economic development prospects.
Venture Capital scene in Turkey is fairly young, and quite unestablished. Prominent VC funds are Leventure, LabX, Ilab, and Golden Horn Ventures.
“Angel” investors are very scarce in Turkish Internet Industry. Thus, events such as e-Tohum (e-Seed), constitute the only chance to provide young Turkish entrepreneurs with seed investment and mentorship.

7. Top 10 Internet Properties  in Turkey, Comscore / April 2009
(Ranked by unique users aged 15+ who accessed the Internet from non-public locations)

1. Google sites, 16M
2.  Microsoft sites, 15.5M
3. Facebook.com, 12M
4. Dogan Online sites, 10M
5. Milliyet.com.tr, 8.5M
6. Blogcu, 8.2M
7. Mynet, 7.8M
8. AOL sites, 7.5M
9. Hurriyet.com.tr, 6.8M
10. Yahoo sites, 6.5M

Top 20 trafficked websites, Alexa March 2009

1- Google Search Turkey, Search
2- Facebook, Social Network
3- Google sites, Search & Portal
4- Windows Live, Portal
5- Hurriyet, News
6- YouTube, Video Sharing
7- Milliyet, News
8- Mynet, Portal
9- Blogger, Blog
10- RapidShare, File Sharing
11- Yahoo, Search & Portal
12- Microsoft Network (MSN), Search & Portal
13- ekolay.net, Portal
14- sahibinden.com, e-Commerce
15- Wikipedia, Information
16- Travian, Online World
17- ImageShack, Image Sharing
18- R10.Net, Forum
19- Eksi Sözlük, Information
20- GittiGidiyor.com, e-Commerce

8. Buzzed Turkish Internet Start-ups and Success stories

Yonja, once the most popular Turkish social network, attracted a lot of buzz by selling 50% of its shares to Mynet and TigerGlobal (a hedge fund) for a total of USD 15M. Yonja was founded by Kerim Baran, a Turkish Harvard MBA graduate.
XING, Europe’s leading business networking platform acquired Cember.net for €4.36 M. Founder Caglar Erol has now become a serial entrepreneur, founding DoktorSitesi together with Kerim Baran, and Eumedia.
San Francisco based Grou.ps, founded by Emre Sokullu, concluded 2 small VC rounds, and recently made its way to alexa top 5000. Grou.ps is basically a Ning competitor.
Chicago based waves.tv (now defunct) attracted angel investment and lots of buzz  (such as CNETLifehacker, Killerstartups, bigumigu) with their photobooth and live reality shows. When webcam penetration rates stalled, so did VC’s, making waves.tv a history. Onur Kabadayi was one of the founders (that’s me).
Turkish start-ups that recently started getting more traction and buzz include Knowband – an e-learning social network, Mekanist – an Istanbul city guide, yogurt – an upcoming virual world, messengerFX – an integrated web messenger.

9. Resource List

These were the resources that I relied on most while compiling this research:

1. Telecommunications Sector in Turkey,  by Turk Telekom
2. Turkey Internet Sector Overview, June 2009 (short), May 2008, by Sina Afra (also see this interview / Turkish)
3. Comscore Turkey review May 2009, Comscore Russia review July 2009
4. Ipsos Turkey review June 2009 (see the Engligh translation here)
4. McCann Social Media Tracker, March 2008
5. Invest in Turkey website

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