A guide to advertising in Russia

Benoit Le Gendre

Data and Adtech Strategy Lead

25th April 2018

~ 5 min read

With around 150 million users, Russia’s internet audience is the largest in Europe and the seventh-biggest in the world.  For the first time, total spend on internet advertising in Russia was more than spend on television advertising last year. Online advertising is growing faster than any other type of advertising in Russia.

According to a survey by the Association of Communication Agencies of Russia (ACAR), online spend from January to September 2017 amounted to between 115 – 116 billion roubles (approximately $2bn), up by 23% from the previous year.

Most international brands with activity in Russia, who are looking to promote their products through digital marketing and paid search, have the choice between different search engines. At first glance, the most obvious option may be Google, but Yandex is actually the preferred option if you are looking to expand in Russia, as it is the gateway to this market.

At Croud, we offer this service to several of our clients, and have seen great uplift from running search activity using Yandex with the help of our Croudie Network.

Below are some of the reasons why you should use Yandex to grow your traffic and how to reach valuable customers.

Yandex is the leading search engine

Launched in 1997, Yandex is currently the leading search engine in Russia, with around 55% market share, versus Google’s 43%. More importantly, the gap between the two leading search engines has recently increased, with Google losing market share to Yandex.

Source: Stat Counter

Yandex.ru is the fourth most popular website in Russia, but also the fifth-largest search engine globally after Google, Bing, Baidu and Yahoo!

Having the largest share of the search market allows Yandex to attract more advertisers than Google AdWords in the Russian market. According to experts, the number of advertisers on Yandex today is over 350,000. Therefore, it is generally believed that competition on Yandex’s AdWords equivalent Yandex.Direct is greater than on Google. As a result, cost-per-click for Yandex.Direct is higher on average than on AdWords. Created specifically for the Russian-speaking market, Yandex is also more successful than Google at understanding the complex grammar rules of the Russian language to match users queries with search results.

Yandex offers the latest search technology

While AdWords may appear more user-friendly, the Yandex search platform will appear more intuitive and simple to use. 

Yandex.Direct offers most of the key features used by its main competitors:

  • Campaign, ad groups and keyword management with match types
  • Reporting on traffic, cost and conversions
  • Dynamically generated ads
  • Ad extensions
  • Audience targeting
  • Mobile-specific ads
  • Ad preview tool
  • Multiple currency management
  • Display ads through Yandex display running on some of the most popular websites in Russia
  • Shopping ads through Yandex Market, Russia’s largest and most popular comparison shopping platform and marketplace operator
  • Managed with Direct Commander – the equivalent to AdWords editor
  • Detailed analytics data with Yandex Metrica

In addition to Russia, Yandex also covers Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey. According to Yandex.Radar, in October 2017 Yandex’s share in Russia was 56.04%, 33.54% in Belarus, 19.79% in Kazakhstan and 2.67% in Turkey.

Contextualise your marketing

One mistake that advertisers make when expanding to a new country is using a carbon copy of their current strategy, assuming that what has worked before will work elsewhere.

The Russian online landscape is quite different to other countries, so advertisers will have to rethink their marketing mix. One element to consider, for example, is how relevant mobile advertising is in Russia compared to other markets.

On the other hand, a core element of your advertising strategy will be your website. This will be the shop window to your brand and products, and it will require special attention to localise content (translation, currency) in order to adapt to the local market. Global brands must work on coming across as local brands in each market. Being able to talk to customers in their own language will always bring about better results.

Adapt your advertising calendar to important dates

The start of the year is always busy in Russia for advertisers, as two of the biggest holidays occur within a week of each other; New Year’s and Orthodox Christmas. Every winter month has a special holiday that drives queries for gifts, flowers, and celebrations. These holidays offer great opportunities to run special promotions and campaigns.  When it comes to travel, January is a popular month for Russians to take extra vacation days, following the week-long celebration of New Year and Christmas.

Valentine’s Day will be no different to other countries and will be a special occasion for loved ones to exchange gifts with one another.

Defender of the Fatherland Day – on 23rd February – is the celebration of those serving in the Russian armed forces and can be considered as the equivalent of Father’s Day elsewhere. Men of all ages will be given small gifts.

Black Friday is no longer just an American shopping event, as although Russians do not celebrate Thanksgiving, an increasing number are taking part in Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday offers.

December kick-starts the shopping season for the New Year.  It will be a busy time for retailers and they should take advantage of all the opportunities during this period.

To conclude

To sum up, travel advertisers should focus their efforts in January, May, and the summer period. eCommerce players should adapt their marketing activities during special holidays to run campaigns for holiday shoppers and follow the local Russian calendar of events.

Yandex is an integral part of the Russian Internet landscape, and through in-depth knowledge of the country, culture and language, the platform offers great opportunities for companies and advertisers who are looking to enter the Russian market.

To find out how to craft your digital marketing strategy for Russia and kick-start your activity on Yandex, contact us.

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