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From Shorts to Vlogs: A Brand's Guide of advertising videos by Russian YouTube bloggers



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Many times we have said that YouTube in Russia is one of the leading platforms for brand promotion, which has a number of advantages. The daily reach of YouTube in Russia is more than 53,000 users, while the monthly reach is more than 95,000 users. 

There is always something to watch here. For users, YouTube is an online service with a variety of video content, from news and movie reviews to interviews, travel, cooking shows, children's programs, and extreme challenges. The topic list is endless.

It's no wonder that videos on in-demand bloggers' channels gain millions of views and thousands of comments in just a few hours after publication, which is good for advertising. The more popular the blogger, the more potential advertisers the channel has. The trend has not changed even after Google Ads was blocked in 2022 in Russia. The only thing that has changed is the format. Now advertisers contact the channel directly, agreeing on cooperation.

Each YouTube channel is a unique author's media. 

It has its own tone, manner of narration, subject matter and editorial policy. All this is reflected in advertising integrations. As a rule, the blogger himself offers a model of cooperation, taking into account the request and promotion goals. Conditionally, the formats of advertising integrations can be divided by the plot of the video. Let's consider the most popular of them.

The Magic of Talking head

The "talking head" format came to YouTube after years of success in TV advertising. The secret of effectiveness is related to a win-win plot. The blogger directly addresses the audience with a brand or product story. 

Various visual elements or special effects can be integrated into the story (note - a screenshot from an online store, a discount popping up in the video, etc.). In the video below money symbols in the  Minecraft game style (note - blogger Liana is a well-known gamer in Russia), a Tinkoff credit card and a screenshot from a discounted goods marketplace were spotted. 

The structure of the video insertion looks like this: backstory, brand part, call-to-action. Let's explain using the same example from the channel It's Liana. At the beginning of the ad integration Liana says that the discount season is coming soon and that she is going to buy goods on marketplaces. Then, the author smoothly leads viewers to the object of the advertisement - Tinkoff Platinum credit card, which allows you to return cashback for purchases up to 30%. In the final part, the girl shows what goods she plans to pay for with the card and encourages subscribers to do the same, as it is profitable.

Tinkoff advertising integration on the channel This is Liana.

The "Talking head" is the most popular format of YouTube integrations. Almost every successful blogger uses this style or records a video with voiceover. Narratively, the format is identical to the "talking head". But visually, the integration consists entirely of elements of the video sequence, provided by the advertiser, plus the blogger's voiceover.

Advertising integration of Genshin Impact on the Viki Show channel.

A voiceover video is often used to advertise online products, where you need to show how the product looks like or how it can be used. The video above is an example of advertising integration of our client, online game Genshin Impact on Viki Show channel. The format of the video with voiceover was chosen for a reason. It implements the task of showing "how it works" for the viewers. It also reveals the attractive visual side of the product which is no less important in the case of Genshin Impact. The developers have already got several prestigious world awards for the game design as well as positive feedback from players.

Special YouTube formats with complex plot turns

Due to the popularity of the "talking head" on YouTube, there may be a false impression that this is where the integration options for the advertiser end. In fact, there are many formats. Let's have a look at such stories. 

An elaborate, complex story can be seen in a sketch. This format consists of 50-70% of the creative part with a short product promo at the end. Thanks to it, users watch such advertising until the end.

Advertising sketch for the dating app Twinby on the Ostorozhno:Sobchak channel.

Ksenia Sobchak, the popular TV presenter, is a lover of plot sketches in her videos.  The author of the channel "Ostorozhno:Sobchak" cooperates with many brands. In each new release Ksenia "plays out" sketches. The video above is a story on dating app Twinby, played out between the TV presenter and a guest on her programme, bloggers Satyr.

Another interesting advertising format is the interview. From the point of view of production, such integration does not require much effort. You just need to record a conversation between a blogger and his guest (note - another blogger, brand representative, etc.). But here you need to pay special attention to the semantic part. If the questions are trivial and directly advertise a product, the viewer will probably find such integration boring.

Advertising interview between Alisher Morgenstern and blogger Lisa Vasilenko in support of the Twinby app on the Morgenstern channel.

This is not the case with Alisher Morgenstern's interview (note - recognized as a foreign agent in Russia) with Lisa Vasilenko, devoted to a review of the Twinby app. By the way, the blogger is an ambassador of the brand. Therefore, from the first minute it is clear to the viewer that the video is advertising. But due to the popularity of both bloggers, humor, sometimes from the 18+ category, and provocative questions, the views of the video reached 2 million users.

Where are the commercials? More native ad formats on YouTube

Let's take  even a closer look at the videos. For example, let's check out the channel of a beauty blogger, or a top ranking influencer. Any author who speaks on common popular topics has once filmed a topical shopping review. 

Typically, this format is a video that is fully or partially dedicated to products. It can be a review of Korean cosmetics, budget home things from Wildberries (note - the online marketplace popular in Russia), unpacking computer devices from a hardware store, etc. 

The issue of "experimental" YouTube channel SlivkiShow is devoted to unusual budget items from AliExpress (note - toothpaste squeezer, golden knife, etc.). As we can see by the mark of more than 1 million views and positive comments from users, the video is popular among viewers. Firstly, budget goods are always interesting to a huge number of audience. Secondly, the non-standard theme coincides with the main content (note - one of the videos is called "I swam to the glacier with the help of a screwdriver"). In case SlivkiShow reviewed, for example, baking products, the video on the channel would look at least unattractive to the viewer.

Review of unusual household goods from AliExpress on the channel SlivkiShow.

It is important to approach the review creatively, thematically and practically in terms of audience needs. But you can use other native formats, for example, a special video fully dedicated to the brand. The video by beauty blogger RedAutumn tells about the Korean cosmetics Bueno and  reveals the topic of daily care for girls along the way. Viewers are given discounts on the products (note - the caption under the video), which only grow interest to the brand.

A special video reviewing beauty products by Bueno on the RedAutumn channel.

Another native integration format is a special rubric. Its advantage  is in its variability. It can be permanent or temporary, dedicated to one brand or several at once (for example, hair products). It all depends on the author and his presentation of the material. 

In the talk show " I have a topic" by blogger Ksenia Dukalis (note - the channel "Dukaliti") there is a rubric that advertises online products of different brands. The advantage of it is that it is very closely connected with the educational theme of the channel itself. Therefore, the blogger's advertising looks native, interesting, and does not get tedious from issue to issue.

Advertisement of the Tinkoff educational course in the talk show " I have a topic" on the Ducaliti channel.

A more complex native integration is a special project consisting of a series of videos with a cross-cutting theme. This format is rarely used, as it requires a significant budget from the advertiser and a lot of time from the blogger. 

The video below is an example of integration of Surfshark VPN service in the special project "Unusual states' borders" on the channel of Yuri Dud' (note - recognized as a foreign agent in Russia). The author tells about the river border between Spain and Portugal, which can be crossed in 5 minutes using a rope bridge over the water (note - ziplines). The integration plot, as well as other videos in the special project, overlaps in meaning with the main mission of Surfshark - "to overcome all borders and artificial restrictions in the Internet with a good VPN". Even though Yuri utters an advertising message at the end of the integration, it doesn't seem intrusive as before hу said it the viewer is engrossed in the unusual plot of the special project.

Integrations from Surfshark's promotion "Unusual Borders of States" on the vDud' channel.

The main advantage of this format is to remind users constantly of the brand with an interesting story. 

What to do if your YouTube budget is limited, but you really want a native integration? To agree with the blogger on a shorter advertising timing. By the way, all the above mentioned native formats last at least 5 minutes. 

But there is a shorter version - a mention. This is a short - up to 1 minute - and maximally organic product advertising insertion into the content. As a rule, a native mention is very close to the main plot of the video. 

The example below takes us into the day-to-day life video of Denis Kukoyaka, a popular blogger in Russia, and his family. The author makes a "hook" to the advertising block in the form of a game with his daughter, where he voices songs to her with his nose clamped with a clothespin. The purpose of the game is to make Vasilisa laugh and smoothly reveal the theme of nasal congestion. At the end of the story, Nazivin spray appears in the frame, which, according to Denis, can solve the problem of runny nose and is suitable for children.

Promotional mention of the brand Nazivin on Denis Kukoyaka's channel.

The ad integration lasts only 15 seconds, but its effect is noticeable, because it is inseparable from the main action of the characters in the video.

Pre-roll or post-roll without Google Ads

Despite the blocking of YouTube's promotional tools in Russia, standard video advertising still hasn't gone away. It has transformed into an identical format: a ready-made video of up to 30s-90s at the beginning or end of an issue, unrelated to the main content of the video. 

The only difference is that now the advertiser directly negotiates placement with the channel. In his turn, the blogger uploads the advertising material manually during editing, instead of using Google Ads.

Pre-roll video of Tinkoff brand on Dalbek channel.

Brands use this format in completely different ways. Some place a commercial once with one blogger. Others place one video on several bloggers at the same time. Most often a brand agrees with a channel on periodic placement with different advertising inserts. The example above is the integration of Tinkoff Bank with Dalbek. If you look at other videos on the channel, you will notice other videos of the same brand, which is actually quite an effective technique. Thus, users are constantly reminded of the company or product. 

In general, there are many examples of ready-made videos on Russian YouTube. Basically, this format is used by large brands (note - Yandex, VKontakte, Tinkoff, MTS, etc.). Accordingly, the quality of their advertising is quite high, as well as the level of competition with each other. If the budget for making an advertising video does not allow you to make it "super attractive" with various visual elements and effects, it is better to choose something else.

YouTube Shorts in Russian trends

Consider another short format - YouTube Shots. According to Statista, vertical Shorts videos are watched by about 70 billion users worldwide. 

Designed for quick and easy viewing, the videos allow creators to express themselves in 60 seconds or less. And there are no strict rules on story or design. YouTube Shorts quickly became viral trending content. All of this had an impact on the advertising industry, including in Russia. 

Some channels have almost completely switched to the Shorts format. But their popularity has not fallen.

The Sonya Kisa8 TT channel has just two standard, horizontal videos and over 100 Shorts with millions of views. The vibrant content attracts users and therefore advertisers. Most of them are pet brands. For bloggers with a broader profile, the options for integrating into Shorts can be countless, especially if the channel is entertaining.

Shorts for Milbemax brand on Sonya Kisa8 TT channel.

Plus, Russian bloggers often duplicate Shorts on other platforms (note - VK Clips, Instagram*, Telegram Stories) to increase their reach. Advertisers actively support such multi-channel authors.

Thus, the diversity of advertising formats and the huge number of integrations between brands and bloggers only emphasizes the potential of YouTube for advertisers in Russia. However, navigating this digital landscape requires a deep understanding of the nuances of the platform and the ability to tailor content to resonate with certain audience segments. 

No matter how creative a blogger's approach to advertising may be, promotion always starts with analytics, strategy and budget. Experts realize these tasks more effectively with their own strategies. RMAA specialists systematically work with bloggers' databases, which means that projects are implemented promptly and personalized for each client based on his request. But that's another story. 

Keep up to date with all the news from the Russian digital marketing world by subscribing to our blog. 


*Meta Platforms Inc. project, the activities of which are prohibited in Russia.

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About the Author

A content lead. Natalia runs marketing projects promotion with different digital tools in the Russian-speaking market. 


Author Natalia Gorenkova

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