The influence of Russia’s foreign communication outlets, RT and Sputnik, has become increasingly visible in recent years. To measure the reach of these outlets, this study aims to analyze the website and mobile app audiences of RT and Sputnik across 21 countries.
Through this analysis, we will be able to better understand the impact of these outlets from a global perspective and the potential impact they have in different countries.
Overview of RT and Sputnik
Russia’s international media outlets are RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik. They were established to promote Russian values and influence foreign public opinion through digital media products.
This report seeks to provide insights into the reach of these websites and mobile apps to determine their effectiveness in engaging a global audience. Data was collected from analytics service SimilarWeb on website visits, pageviews, app downloads and audience demographics across 21 countries worldwide.
This study offers an overview of the audiences for RT and Sputnik, including user profiles, countries with highest usage rates, language preferences, engagement levels, and most popular content across all communication mediums. It also compares RT’s reach to other Russian-language news outlets such as Meduza and Vzglyad. The aim is to provide useful insights into which countries are targeted by RT’s global communication campaign and whether or not those efforts successfully influence wider public opinion outside Russia’s borders.
Purpose of the study
This research explores the website and mobile app audiences of Russia’s foreign communication outlets, RT and Sputnik, across 21 countries. In an increasingly connected world, digital media is powerful in foreign communication. Through this study, we are mapping the global audience of RT and Sputnik to better understand their reach and influence.
This research will provide an analysis of RT and Sputnik’s audiences based on their geographic locations and the types of content they consume. The data generated from this study will shed light on which countries these prominent Russian media outlets target and give us insight into how effective their strategies are at reaching international audiences. Additionally, this research explores specific user behaviors such as how often content is being consumed, how long it is being interacted with, etc., to understand how people are engaging with Russian propaganda.
Overall, this project seeks to map out the global reach of RT and Sputnik across 21 countries by analyzing their website and mobile app audiences. This data will uncover key insights about who is consuming Russia’s messages abroad and how much its messages have penetrated foreign markets. By understanding these dynamics more effectively, organizations can better combat disinformation campaigns from Russia or other countries that use digital media for malicious purposes.
This research provides a detailed view of the audiences of RT and Sputnik – two of Russia’s foreign communication outlets – across 21 countries. In addition, we looked into the traffic generated from website and mobile app sources to understand audience reach.
We used several research methods such as country-level analysis, surveys, and website and app analytics to understand the audience size and engagement of the platforms in each country.
This project was conducted primarily by collecting and analyzing data from two sources. The first source was the websites and mobile applications of RT and Sputnik, both Russian outlets. All web traffic data used in this project was collected using Google Analytics, which provides detailed insights into user behavior on a website or mobile application.
The second source was a “keywords” dataset from Google Trends. This dataset provided information about regional interest in specific topics related to RT and Sputnik over time.
To accurately capture user engagement with these two outlets across different countries, the research team collected data for users who had visited either outlet’s website or mobile application during the research period (May 2016–November 2017). Google Analytics’ intelligence tools enabled us to construct cohorts representing visitors to both outlets by their device type (e.g., desktop, tablet or mobile), location (country) and the device platform they were using (such as iOS or Android).
Using Google Trends we were also able to observe regional interest in news topics associated with RT and Sputnik during the same research period, analyzing regional fluctuations in search queries over time. This allowed us to gain insight into user interests for topics associated with these outlets for each country studied throughout this project.
To map the audience dynamics of RT and Sputnik, we collected data on digital properties of both outlets, including their websites and mobile apps audiences in 21 countries. In addition, we collected data from Competitive Intelligence Tool run by SimilarWeb on all RT and Sputnik properties (like RT.com) over 31 days. This allowed us to build an audience portrait for desktop-and mobile-based traffic to RT and Sputnik registered in a given country during this period.
The data collection was based on both organic traffic — i.e., users reaching these sites through organic search results or directly typing in URLs — as well as direct traffic (including web links) External searches arising from advertisements placed by these outlets or external partners were excluded from our analysis due to the difficulty of collecting them reliably in an automated manner. Nevertheless, the combined organic and direct traffic formed the basis of our mapping activities, which we analyzed to better understand Russian influence at regional and country levels and identify patterns across cities inside each country.
To interpret these findings, we have used regression analysis fitted with standardised residuals, that is., variations from the mean after removing statistical noise such as seasonality effect — for more reliable pattern detection and interpretation. This involves fitting several linear models accounting for differences between national profiles across observation points (regions, countries), then interpreting, statistically significant coefficients emerging from linear regressions generated on aggregated local word press pages visited between two periods a month apart.
Mapping the website and mobile app audiences of Russia’s foreign communication outlets, RT and Sputnik, across 21 countries
In this study, we aimed to map the website and mobile app audiences of Russia’s foreign communication outlets, RT and Sputnik, across 21 countries. Using web analytics, we were able to access a wide range of audience engagement data across both outlets to better understand how their content is being consumed and shared in different countries.
Our results provided further insight into the reach and influence of RT and Sputnik and shed light on the various audience segments accessing their content.
Overview of RT and Sputnik’s audiences
The mapping of the combined digital audiences of RT and Sputnik between 2017 and 2019 across 21 countries highlights just how far the Russian media outlets have been able to reach. Over these two years, RT and Sputnik had a combined reach of more than 250 million unique web audiences, while their mobile apps had an accumulated total of almost 80 million users.
Breaking down this larger figure into individual countries revealed that Russia’s closest neighbor Belarus was the most heavily targeted country regarding RT and Sputnik’s audience outreach. Belarus was followed by Ukraine, Indonesia, Turkey, Kazakhstan and the United States, respectively appearing as major target stocks worldwide. Additionally, even though audited numbers across all countries showed a slight decline in 2018 relative to 2017 web figures (from 66 million to 60 million), it is important to note that during this same period mobile app users increased from 14 million to 18 million — indicating a shift in digital advertising strategy.
The other major factor at play was that when comparing individual country results for both RT and Sputnik’s outreach level between 2017-2019 it soon became evident that RT outperformed its Russian counterpart on both web and mobile platforms across most countries analyzed. This, however, shouldn’t imply that Sputnik’s presence has weakened — from our data, it appears to have stabilized following a dip in performance levels during 2018.
RT and Sputnik’s audiences in 21 countries
Mapping the website and mobile app audiences of Russia’s foreign communication outlets, RT and Sputnik, across 21 countries showed that the outlets have created a connected audience in their home country and abroad. The greatest concentration of RT and Sputnik audiences was in Montenegro, Serbia, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Bulgaria. This correlates with the countries’ historic ties to Russia or where there is a Russian-speaking population. These six countries accounted for nearly half (45%) of all RT/Sputnik combined unique visitors across the 21 tracked markets.
The two outlets also drew strong website visits across Europe, Finland, Germany and France. In 19 of the 21 countries surveyed – both within the traditional target area and Germany – RT recorded more than double the website visits compared to its Sky News International equivalent in February 2018 (this number decreased to 17 out of 21 by August 2018).
Interestingly, APP audiences were generally split between people inside Russia and those from surrounding former Soviet republics/communist bloc states including Ukraine (17%), Belarus (14%) Kazakhstan (8%), Azerbaijan (4%), Moldova (4%) Lithuania (3%) Latvia(3%). Meanwhile over 90% of browser audiences were based in Russian speaking locations with some exceptions such as certain East European countries like Serbia where browser audience skews slightly towards local users at 60%.
Overall, this research displays a clear pattern emerging; if Russian-language media is accessible via the internet or apps, it can reach a large engaging network of viewers beyond its traditional target areas.
In this paper, we explore the reach of Russia’s foreign communication outlets, RT and Sputnik, through mapping their website and mobile app audiences across 21 countries. We assess these outlets’ impact on global political discourse by analyzing their content and audience demographics.
To do this, we surveyed the website and mobile app audiences of RT and Sputnik in each of the 21 countries. Our results demonstrate these outlets’ wide and deep reach, and how audiences utilize them across the globe.
Implications of the study
The study analyzed the website and mobile app audiences of two of Russia’s most prominent foreign communication outlets, RT and Sputnik, to explore the web-reach of the outlets across 21 countries. The results revealed the distinct patterns in audience demographics and digital behavior which suggest RT and Sputnik’s online audiences are changing.
This study has important implications for understanding Russia’s influence abroad through its media output. The findings show that despite its global reach, RT and Sputnik’s influence is not uniform across all countries. Different regions had different profiles regarding popular topics, while others preferred a specific platform. For example, while Malaysia appeared to have strong levels of engagement with both Environments, Turkey showed stronger affinity with the desktop version. Understanding these differences reveals more nuanced insights into how people respond to Russian media overseas.
In addition, particular language preferences can provide clues on effectively targeting audiences through content localisation when pursuing global reach objectives. Understanding how different audiences interact with content from different countries can help tailor messages effectively to achieve desired outcomes. These findings offer an insight into understanding how these outlets can shape narrative globally as well as their ability to shape public opinion among certain populations and seek active support for their views where necessary.
Limitations of the study
Various limitations were present in this study. The first limitation of the study concerns the geographical scope. This research focused on 21 countries across Europe, Asia, and Latin America to examine RT and Sputnik’s influence across various linguistic and cultural contexts. Therefore, the observed trends should be examined cautiously due to their potential lack of external validity, as they may not apply to other countries or regions outside this scope.
Second, there are limitations concerning the dataset. The audience data used were mainly collected through the website and mobile apps of RT and Sputnik over three months in 2021. Web traffic for these outlets changes monthly; thus, the snapshot of audience data provided in this study may not reflect their audience profile over a longer time horizon or from different points in time. Moreover, as third-party data was used without access to raw user information (beyond metadata such as country, language preference etc.), it is impossible to fully capture nuances of individual users such as motivations for online interactions with specific content from these outlets.
Finally, a lack of generalizable conclusions can arise due to the selection bias (inherent in using secondary sources) in communication research studies using qualitative or quantitative analysis – especially if humanities-oriented research methodologies are adopted. For example, although this study was based on consider primary source material (content analysis), it nevertheless relied upon preselected texts compiled by researchers interested in particular topics surrounding RT and Sputnik’s influence on various countries around the world which could potentially lead to biases emerging during findings interpretations carried out by researchers analyzing those texts exposed to various cultural mediums like television and internet broadcasts on behalf platforms such RT media service outlets or streaming services respectively. As such, conclusions drawn from this kind of analysis should be treated cautiously if discussed outside their specific context only relying heavily upon reliable primary sources for validity reasons when interpreting meaning based content being generated by RT outlet platforms for intended audiences worldwide outside a local focus setting within which it was researched originally at its origin point before international rollout across regional locations from one base point geographically speaking as result.
As the findings from this study suggest, the website and mobile app audiences of Russia’s foreign communication outlets, RT and Sputnik, are significantly large and influential across 21 countries. Moreover, the reach of their content is spread in many places, including Europe, the Americas, Asia and Oceania, with particularly high viewership in countries such as Turkey, Brazil, the U.S., India, and Argentina.
The study provides a comprehensive mapping of the audiences of these two outlets, providing a clearer picture of the scope of their global reach.
Summary of findings
In conclusion, this research clearly maps the website and mobile app audience of Russia’s two foreign communication outlets, RT and Sputnik, across 21 countries. The key findings of this study include:
• RT and Sputnik have significant representation in most countries with more than 20 million monthly active users (MAU) in almost all global regions;
• The audiences of both outlets tend to be more active in the Soviet successor states than other parts of the world;
• Both outlets have a similar international audience age profile but vary significantly when they are divided into different countries;
• RT and Sputnik target younger people, especially males under 35, who are likely to be more politically minded.
Overall, this research provides an understanding of how Russia’s two foreign communication platforms utilize their digital presence to influence international affairs. However, it also reveals areas where policy-makers may need to plug gaps to successfully counter Russian media campaigns.
Recommendations for future research
To provide even greater insight into the influence of RT and Sputnik, further research can focus on mapping information trajectories and flows. This could involve tracing content across websites and social media platforms to understand the type and spread of content produced by the media outlets. Additionally, future research can investigate the relationship between content ownership and reception. In particular, further research could explore how audiences interact with content networks and how they identify with wider narratives developed by Russia’s foreign communication outlets.
Furthermore, due to recent technological advancements there is potential for researchers to uncover more nuanced insights into RT’s global audience demographics such as age groupings, gender distributions, geographic location and so on. Statistical methods such as surveys or panel studies may be helpful; however, these research approaches require considerable data collection and analysis resources that may not be available at present.
In conclusion, further research into RT and Sputnik’s influence in 21 countries needs to take into account the developing digital landscape that organizations are increasingly using to deliver information under digital circles of influence or “information bubbles” created by humans with digital relationships – across multiple formats, devices and contexts – worldwide.