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Promotion in the Russian market with contextual advertising using Yandex.Direct



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After March 2022, Google, that was so much favored by many marketers around the world, disabled advertising services for the Russian region. As a result, websites of Russian companies, advertisers and other brands actively involved in internet marketing were deprived of the opportunity to receive advertising leads from the global system's search queries. 

The reaction in Russia was quick. In a fairly short time, many companies switched to the model of "organic SEO promotion on Google + paid traffic in Yandex.Direct". Yandex, in its turn, began to show good results. Thanks to this, it became an irreplaceable tool in the contextual advertising segment for many brands.

A little later, a new service called VK Ads appeared on the Russian market. It was designed for working with targeted advertising within social networks. In a fairly short time many advertisers, including RMAA specialists, started using it. We described all the nuances of the platform here, and here we showed you how to launch an advertising campaign.

Thus, since 2022, Yandex.Direct and VK Ads have been able to fully replace similar foreign services blocked in Russia due to global political and economic changes. 

Let's return to Yandex.Direct. In this article we will talk about it since the importance of the service for the Russian advertising market has become undeniable.

Yandex target audience: visitors and views in figures

Yandex in Russia today has the first place in its reach. The monthly audience of the search engine network is 100.2 thousand people (82.3% of the Russian population). About 69 thousand Russians use Yandex on a daily basis. 

Yandex Russia 2024

The total number of visits to Yandex from January to March 2024 reached 3.2 billion per month (note - from all devices). Most of the search engine's audience is in Russia (92.95%). Plus, the minimum percentage of users is in Belarus (0.84%), Germany (0.64%), Ukraine (0.63%), and some other countries (4.33%).

Yandex in Russia 2024

In terms of gender characteristics, the Yandex audience is divided into 43.05% of women and 56.95% of men aged 18 to 65 and older. However, users aged 25-34 years prevail significantly, making 23.66%. Also, people aged 35-44 (18.01%) and 18-24 (16.27%) make up a significant part of the resource's audience. In other words, useful for marketers, we say that Yandex has a huge payable audience, which is quite realistic to turn into potential customers, with the help of contextual advertising in particular.

The principle of displaying contextual advertising in the search engine and Yandex partner networks

Launching and setting up contextual advertising in Yandex is carried out through the Yandex.Direct service. This tool has different types and formats, but all of them are united by the main nuance - advertising takes into account user's contextual request. That is, how he/she forms his request, what he/she is interested in and where he/she is located. Based on this information and campaign settings, Yandex.Direct algorithms allow you to show ads to users that are more targeted and interested in the product. 

Yandex.Direct offers convenient tools for solving marketing tasks at all stages of the sales funnel. These tools include reaching new audiences, engaging potential customers, creating an emotional connection with the brand, and retargeting with the Yandex system's machine learning capability for deep analytics.

Main types of advertising Yandex.Directs: 

  • Search Engine Advertising;
  • Yandex Advertising Network;
  • Mobile Advertising;
  • Online Store Advertising;
  • Media Advertising;
  • Video Advertising;
  • Audio Advertising;
  • Content Marketing;
  • Placement on Marketplaces;
  • Yandex Maps Advertising;
  • Social Advertising.

Contextual advertising in Yandex can be classified by different criteria. The first and the simplest one is by the choice of resource for placement. Here there are 2 types: advertising on Search and advertising in YAN (note -the sites that are part of the Yandex Advertising Network).

The principle of search campaign operation  is based on keywords that are selected by the advertiser and then displayed in ads on Search. The ad may contain a text description, a link to the site, address, phone number and other elements. Ads on Yandex's partner sites, in YAN, have more advanced features and formats. Earlier we wrote more about the technical requirements for formats. But the main plus of YAN is its reach. According to Yandex itself, the average daily audience of the network's sites is about 65 million users,  50% of of which do not overlap with Yandex users.

Where is it better to show advertising: in the Yandex advertising network or in the search?

The question is not quite appropriate, but it is asked quite often. The fact is that the strategy of choosing either Search or YAN is not very successful because separately these resources do not solve the specific tasks of the campaign. Therefore, you need to think more globally, focusing on the main goal of the campaign.

Image advertising in Yandex.Direct and its formats

Imagine the main task of promotion is to bring a new product to the market or remind about the brand to a wider audience, including regular customers. In such cases, choose image types of campaigns in Yandex.Direct, aimed at forming a certain image of the product/service for users. 

Regardless of the choice of image advertising format the budget of each of them will be calculated with the condition of payment for ad displays. At the same time, the minimum budget per day and the minimum order amount for advertising is 300 rubles excluding VAT.

What options we have here.

The use of media banners in YAN, which have flexible settings of displays by user characteristics (note - geo, behavioral attributes, interests, data from Yandex.Metrics, etc.) and keywords.

Example of media banner placement on the right side of the screen on Yandex.Weather service

When paying for 1000 impressions, an advertiser has an additional opportunity to place a premium billboard format in Yandex services (note - Yandex Video, Yandex Market, Yandex Pictures, Music, Movie Search, Teleprogram,, Edadil and others). The billboard is placed in the header of the service page and occupies the entire width of the screen. In addition to this format, advertisers can choose a single package of banner placement in the YAN, including Yandex partner sites (Afisha, Music, TV program, Real Estate, Maps, service). Depending on the site, the banner will be placed in different parts of the screen and slightly modified in size.

Example of premium billboard format in the main page Yandex Market

Also, a media banner can be placed on Yandex search under the search bar. This format will expand the reach of the audience, thereby increasing brand recognition. There is a choice of time and geo targeting tn the placement settings. And after a certain period of time of a campaign you can collect a segment of users who saw the banner, and continue to interact with them using other formats of contextual advertising (note - focused on the target action of the user).

media banner placement under the search bar of the Yandex browser
Example of media banner placement under the search bar of the Yandex browser

Again, if you pay for 1000 impressions, media banners will be available in 2 additional formats: premium banner and mini-banner. Both are located on the right side of the screen and differ in size. 

As an option, you can run a campaign with dynamic banners in YAN, consisting of video and images. This format attracts the attention of the audience due to the combination of static and dynamic images in one ad. Yandex offers to assemble such a banner on your own in the Yandex.Direct creative builder. 

And, of course, one of the most spectacular formats of image promotion is video advertising, which covers the multi-million audience of the Yandex Video Network.

Video ads in Yandex can be: 

  • InStream - streaming video that is broadcast at the beginning, middle or end of the main non-advertising video content; 
  • OutStream - a promotional video on the sites page; 
  • Interstitial - a promotional video in a mobile app before downloading or changing content; 
  • Rewarded - video ads in mobile game applications, for viewing which the user receives a reward (note - discount, game currency, etc.).

The campaign settings for audience characteristics will be identical to the settings for media banners in Yandex Advertising Network. However, the cost of video ads will depend on impressions or views. In the first case, the price is counted for viewing  2 and more seconds of the video, if at least 50% of the video player area is in the visible area of the screen. In the second case the price is counted if the video is less than 30 seconds and the user watched it to the end, or the user watched 30 seconds of the video and the video is longer, or the user went to the advertiser's site. If the viewer clicked the "Skip" button, neither the display nor the ad view is counted. 

With a fixed payment for 1000 impressions in Yandex.Direct the advertiser has the option of placing an additional video format - multi-roll, which is played before/after the main Kinopoisk video player (note - the largest Russian-language service about movies and TV shows). The commercial can last 15 or 30 seconds, and can be posted in places where Kinopoisk is present on Yandex partner sites (note - Yandex.Afisha, Teleprogram, Video, etc.).

Example of multi-roll format placement in the Kinopoisk video player

In addition to the special video format, payment for 1000 impressions opens up the possibility of broadcasting audio ads between music tracks, podcasts on Yandex.Radio and Yandex.Music for users without  subscription.

Briefly about strategies for launching image advertising.

The main budget calculation for the launch of image advertising in Yandex.Direct is based on the number of impressions. But here we have different strategies. 

Maximum impressions at a minimum price allows you to get maximum views for a certain period within a given budget. The peculiarity of the strategy is that the average cost of 1000 impressions here will be minimal and will not exceed the budget that the advertiser has specified. 

Reducing the price of repeated impressions is used to maximize audience coverage, but also to save the budget for users who viewed the ad more than once. 

Pay per views (note - beta testing) will be optimal when choosing the format of video advertising, where the campaign budget is spent for full or partial viewing of the video or clicking to the advertiser's site. 

Growth of search queries increases the share of brand queries in search results after media advertising is shown. The Yandex.Direct system automatically selects users who are most likely to be interested in a particular brand and its goods and services. As a rule, this strategy works well in narrow niches. For example, if the campaign is aimed at promoting luxury goods or real estate. 

Growth of visits on the site  works on the same principle as the growth of requests on the search. However, here the system will calculate users who will go directly to the advertiser's site. 

Separately, we should note the strategy of manual bid management, where you can independently specify the rates and conditions for displaying ads. At the same time, it should be understood that the Yandex developers plan to abandon this strategy completely  in the future.

Lead generation as the main goal of contextual advertising. Performance in Yandex.Direct

The first thought of most advertisers who think about promotion through contextual advertising concerns the achievement of a measurable result, that is, not just impressions, but specific user actions: make a request on the site, install an application, etc. Performance direction in Yandex.Direct is responsible exactly for these goals. There is a slight nuance: ads are shown to users interested in a product or services.

Yandex.Direct uses the auction principle when calculating the budget for performance campaigns. That is, the price for the cost of a click on an ad is not fixed, but depends on the bidding between advertisers. Though there are still constant budget parameters. The minimum weekly or daily budget, as well as the minimum payment amount, will be 300 rubles without VAT.

What ad formats are available in Yandex.Direct for performance campaigns.

Let's start with the most common type - text-graphic ads, suitable for advertising of most products and services. They can be placed on search (note - in the product gallery), on Yandex Advertising Network on mobile and desktop versions. An important advantage of such ads is their versatility due to advanced campaign targeting settings. Plus, text-graphic banners allow you to advertise a huge range of goods and services. In addition, the creation of the ads themselves requires minimal effort: a text and an image/video, which can be changed at any time. And the data for the formation of creative can be used on the basis of feed (note - a file containing data about goods/services).

Yandex search engine in the product gallery
Example of text-graphic ads in the Yandex search engine in the product gallery

Another format is graphic advertisements in the YAN. Banners contain only the visual part without any text. Due to the large image, graphic ads attract attention and help the user to quickly understand the essence of the advertisement.  At the same time,  the user gets to the advertiser's site by clicking on them. Here the majority principle starts to work: the more sites of the YAN distribute advertising, the more often it is selected for display to the audience. Therefore, a graphic banner can be created in several formats (note - graphics, animation, etc.) for different locations, which only increases the chances for success, that is, the target action of the user.

graphical advertisement in Yandex advertising network
Example of a graphical advertisement in Yandex advertising network

As with image strategies, performance can have a separate banner on search, but with pay-per-click. It will be displayed to the right of the search results and will correspond to the user's search query. An important nuance is that the banner on Search should be distinguished from the text and graphic format. It appears alone on the search results page in order to draw attention to a specific product/service.

separate banner in the Yandex search
Example of placing a separate banner in the Yandex search results

Often, in the course of a campaign, advertisers have a need to show ads only to those users who have already been on the site or were interested in products similar to the object of advertising. For such a strategy Yandex.Direct uses smart banners in YAN. The process of creating ads is quite simple. The advertiser needs to specify the domain of the site or add a feed. Then, the Yandex system will analyze the content and automatically generate a series of smart banners (note - if there are many products) or a separate smart ad. Additionally, you can select the option to automatically download updates feed / site in the settings. Thanks to this, the information in the creative will always be up-to-date, if, for example,  the price of goods has changed during the campaign.

 smart ad in Yandex
Examples of a smart ad in Yandex advertising network

Special attention should be paid to mobile app ads in Yandex.Direct, the main goal of which is the user's action, i.e. downloading the app. The ads are shown in Yandex mobile search and YAN. As a rule, the "download" button is the main element in them, it leads the user to the application page in the store without unnecessary clicks. Different formats can be used to advertise a mobile app within one campaign: text ads in the search network for the mobile version, graphic or interactive banners (note - a mini game in the ad), video in YAN. Plus, campaign strategies are not only aimed at the goal of "app download", but also at additional goals that the advertiser wants to achieve from the user inside the app (note - for example, registration).

Ad format for mobile applications in Yandex.Direct
Text ad in the search Yandex network for mobile applications

A few words about strategies for launching performance.

As mentioned above, the main goal of performance in Yandex.Direct is a targeted user action. This is the key principle of all campaign launch strategies, but they will differ from one another. 

For example, the strategy of maximum conversions is aimed at getting targeted visits to the site and increases the share of clicks on ads and key phrases that more often lead the user to a targeted action. Accordingly, payment for the campaign is calculated on conversions that happened within 21 days of the first click.

The strategy of maximum clicks also attracts users to the site, but the calculation of the budget is based on the specified average click price or maximum clicks for the specified budget. Here's the nuance that the price per click will be different in different segments.  The minimum budget for the campaign will be 300 rubles excluding VAT in both options.

There are situations when there are not enough conversions to train the Yandex system. As a result, advertisers do not understand how to manage promotion further. For such situations, Yandex.Direct has a package strategy that combines several advertising campaigns of the same type with a single setting of promotion indicators. Conversions obtained under such a strategy, go to the system training at once for all united campaigns. And when adding a new one, the promotion will reach the set optimization indicators faster. Up to 100 campaigns can be added to one package strategy at the same time. 

Click optimization strategy for banner on search will be effective if the advertiser knows exactly how much he is ready to pay for the target action of one visitor. It allows you to get the maximum number of clicks per week, and the average click price (note - the ratio of weekly budget expenditure to the weekly number of clicks) will not be more than the amount that the advertiser has set. The minimum value of the average click price starts from 3 rubles.

Again, performance still has a manual strategy to maximize clicks as in image campaigns. Let us remind you that it is better not to focus on it, as Yandex.Direct plans to disable manual campaign management in 2023.

How retargeting works

Retargeting in Yandex.Direct is used to enhance promotion to users who have already been interested in the advertiser's goods/services in one way or another. For example, they visited his site or added a product to the cart. You can define a group of such users using Yandex.Metrics or Yandex.Audience. Next, run ads on retargeting in search engine or YAN. 

On Search, retargeting works by key phrases or auto targeting through any logistics operator. In other words, ads are seen by users who match the retargeting and display conditions. For example, the key phrase "buy a smartphone" and the retargeting condition "visited the site" will show ads to the user who applied these two parameters in Yandex (note - i.e., entered the keyword and was already on the site). The function  is available on Search for text-graphic and dynamic ads, as well as for mobile app ads. 

Retargeting works a little differently in YAN. The system will show an ad to a user if he has fulfilled at least one condition. For example, he was on the site.

In any case, all the necessary parameters are set via Yandex.Metric or Yandex.Audience. By the way, these services already have ready-made solutions for selecting audience parameters or they can be set up automatically.

It emphasizes once again the main idea of all Yandex services - the desire to automate and simplify all processes within the system to achieve rapid, but high-quality results at the same time.

Things to pay attention in Yandex.Direct tools 2024

Since 2023, Yandex.Direct has added the function of ad placement in public Telegram channels belonging to partners of the Yandex Advertising Network. Ads are tailored to the messenger and look like a standard Telegram post. At the same time, they can have a clickable headline or a link to the site, an image or video, a small text of the ad, the label “Advertisement”, emoji and information about the advertiser.

Yandex Direct campaign in Telegram channels

Additionally, goods and services can be advertised on marketplaces owned by Yandex. These include: Yandex.Market, Yandex.Services, Yandex.Afisha, Yandex.Ads, Yandex.Travel, Yandex.Real Estate,

Also, new analytics systems have been added to Yandex Direct. Visit Lift is the definitive tool for measuring the impact of campaigns on website traffic. It analyzes the number of search queries before and after an ad is shown to assess how much it increases brand awareness and the attractiveness of the site for users. Direct visits and visits within a week of the ad launch are taken into account. The study is available for new Media campaigns with banners, videos, video banners or fixed CPM. Search Lift is the definitive tool for measuring the impact of media ads on search queries. It also enables you to identify the most popular queries, which can be used in performance advertising settings as keyword phrases. The study is available for new media campaigns with banners, videos, video banners or fixed CPM.

Main conclusions on setting up advertising in Yandex.Direct

Yandex.Direct today has proven itself as the leading service in Russia, using the mechanisms of promoting contextual advertising. The service combines a variety of purposes, formats, strategies, which speaks of unlimited possibilities but provided that these opportunities are managed by a professional marketer who understands the principle of the Yandex system and the mechanisms of contextual advertising. 

In order not to get confused in the multitude of functions and strive to maximize the effectiveness of the tool, we recommend:

  • constantly follow the updates in the contextual advertising segment; 
  • test and test again, strategies, targeting, creatives and other settings but reasonably, not chaotically; 
  • combine campaigns in which the audience may overlap for more correct conversions; 
  • form separate creatives for each semantic group of ads;
  • use different formats depending on the main goal of the campaign; 
  • connect end-to-end analytics tools and form further steps based on their data; 
  • subscribe to our blog to keep up-to-date with the latest digital marketing trends... or in case you need more detailed information on tools or advice, which we always have.

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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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