In March, Russian companies lost access to advertising on Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and the Google advertising network. Irina Tsibizova, CEO of sQale agency (former Qmarketing), tells what alternative sites can be used for advertising purposes and what you should pay attention to.
March 2022 was a turning point for advertisers – Meta, which includes Facebook and Instagram, temporarily banned Russian users from running ads both in Russia and abroad. In addition to the Facebook advertising account (the launch of advertising on Instagram was also tied to it), Google Ads stopped working , through which it was possible to place contextual advertising, including on YouTube. TikTok was the last to fall, suspending users’ access to posting new content and live streaming.
Many advertisers froze advertising campaigns and left to discuss how to proceed. Where can marketing budgets be redirected to mitigate falling sales?
Social networks – instead of Facebook, Instagram and TikTok
There are no algorithms that would be more accurate than the Facebook and Instagram systems. They were able to accurately identify potential buyers of products, even when you run campaigns for a wide audience – without clarifying criteria like interests or place of work.
“In contact with”
According to its own data , it is the most popular social network in Russia with 72.5 million users, which is visited every day by 45% of the Runet audience. The launch of advertising on VKontakte is suitable for most products – the audience that used to be on the “cancelled” social networks is partially migrating to VK.
The VK advertising account is similar to the Facebook account two years ago – it lacks some advanced features (for example, dynamic ad testing, deep analytics) and fewer retargeting options – showing ads to users who have already seen it. But there are a number of advantages that allow you to search for the right users, for example, targeting members of communities of interest.
Also on VKontakte there are “Clips”, the views of which are growing steadily . This is an analogue of TikTok and Reels from Instagram. Through the VKontakte advertising account in Clips, you can launch all prepared advertising creatives for those social networks that were not available in Russia.
Odnoklassniki is a channel with a traditionally older audience. The head of the social network, Anton Fedchin , said that its most active core is users from 30 to 50 years old. The monthly audience of Odnoklassniki in Russia is 23.4 million users , 9 million people visit the social network daily.
Advertising in Odnoklassniki can also be launched through the account in VKontakte, that is, all the settings are the same. Odnoklassniki is a great place to advertise consumer goods for older users from the regions. The social network has a high-quality audience that actively clicks and buys goods that fall into their interests.
«ЯRUS» and TenChat
Both networks currently exist exclusively as mobile applications.
The YaRUS social network is initially positioned as a network without advertising. Accordingly, it should not be considered as a channel for paid user acquisition – it is suitable only for SMM promotion (maintaining an account on a social network). The site itself resembles Yandex. Zen”: here and video, and articles, and music. Bloggers posting content on YaRUS can earn on donations from users. Thus, after disabling monetization on YouTube and blocking Instagram, many authors who are left without earnings may well switch to this social network along with their audience. It is not yet clear how long YaRUS will last without advertising.
TenChat is a kind of replacement for the currently blocked LinkedIn service in Russia, which was perfect for promoting b2b services. The Russian analogue is also focused on the business audience, offering both companies to interact with each other, and applicants with potential employers. At the moment, TenChat, like “ЯRUS”, does not have an advertising system, but its absence has never been declared as a feature of the service. Against the backdrop of a massive transition of users to Russian services, it is quite possible to expect an urgent introduction of advertising. In this case, marketers specializing in b2b sales will be able to breathe deeply again.
“TikTok analogue” – you can find such and similar titles by typing “Yappy” in the search bar. The social network entered the market in December 2021. The main idea of the service is the future of vertical content. But today the social network is full of bugs and shortcomings – reviews in the AppStore and Google Play demonstrate the general mood. There is no advertising account in the application at the moment, so it’s not worth it to rush to retrain your targetologists to manage advertising in Yappy. So far, the only advertising option on the social network is working with bloggers. In 2022, Yappy developers promise to release app updates. Perhaps they will have an advertising cabinet.
Display Networks – Instead of Google Display Network
At first glance, it seems like an obvious option to transfer the budget from Google Ads to the Yandex Advertising Network (YAN). But this is not the only option: in addition to YAN, there are other platforms that work on the same principle of placing contextual ads on partner sites.
MyTarget is a contextual media platform owned by VK that allows you to run contextual advertising in the services of the VK group (VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Yula, etc.) and in the partner network. A unique feature of MyTarget is the purchase of other people’s audiences. You search for keywords like “landscapers” and you get search results from relevant audiences. Some of them will be from brands, for example, VKontakte itself, Lamoda, Ozon, and others from private individuals. When buying, a few rubles are added to the cost per thousand impressions, which will go to the author of the database. We advise you to buy a base from brands, as it is more likely to be of high quality. It is especially useful if you are just starting to run a business and advertise it and do not have your own base yet.
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An undeservedly forgotten search engine with 1–1.4% of Russian users. Few? That ‘s over 2 million visits a day, so you be the judge. With the outflow of users to Russian services, it is likely that Mail.ru Search will also take a bite out of the Google search engine. Potential growth is also evidenced by the active development of the VK ecosystem, which will try to capture all the places of presence in Runet.
VK allows you to play audio ads on all its platforms and on any device. It cannot be missed, but there is no possibility for advertisers to go directly to the site from it. Advertising in VK Music can be launched through the same MyTarget. This promotion channel will work well to increase brand awareness. Relevant people to show can be found by searching by interests, geography, gender, age, similar audience. The only difference is that the sound will act as a banner here, and not a text-graphic ad.
The NativeRoll video advertising platform allows you to place videos on popular media sites. It is available in out-stream formats (advertising is played when it enters the user’s field of view) and bumper ads (out-stream subspecies – videos 6 seconds long, the cost of their display is two times lower than that of out-stream). NativeRoll removes the main problem of contextual media networks – placement on “garbage” sites: dating sites, fraudulent landing pages and others.
The Programmatic service automates the purchase of targeted digital advertising on third-party sites where your target audience is most likely to live. The functionality of the platform is similar to other contextual display networks, but with one difference – more precise settings. This advertising channel is not for direct conversions to sales – it increases brand awareness. But in order for this recognition not to accidentally affect the safety of the brand, constant scrupulous work is needed to clean up unwanted places for display – the same sites of dating services, porn sites, etc. Fortunately, you can control each purchased site, format and audience through the Programmatic interface.
A service that covers not only SMS and MMS, but also allows you to run banner ads on partner sites. It will be seen by users who visit these pages using the mobile Internet from MTS. Payment is per thousand impressions, performance evaluation metrics are cost per click and click through rate. It has its own advertising account and attribution (the ability to trace the “customer’s journey” from the first touch to the target action).
A channel in which creatives are articles and videos. It’s worth starting in Zen with 1-2 solid articles, “licked out” with all care. This will help the algorithms understand what the blog is about. The rest of the articles for “Zen” can not be edited so carefully, not to collect a texture for a long time, not to buy photographs. Their production should be approached as the creation of ordinary banners – they do not have to be beautiful, they must sell. The most ideal banner is found by quickly testing a large number of banners.
The channel is well suited for products, the essence of which is difficult to reveal in a short message on a banner, for example, b2b services or real estate projects. The article allows you to explain to the client in more detail what they are offered to buy, and immediately send them to the site.
An analogue of the foreign Quora – a service where you can ask any question and get answers of varying degrees of expertise. Now brands are actively using it to get closer to the user and start solving his pains even before buying the product itself.
On Yandex. Kew” there are extensive opportunities for “guerrilla” marketing – low-budget ways to promote. Classic ways:
- find relevant questions in the search and answer them;
- ask the questions you need and answer them yourself.
Topics for questions can be found in Yandex.Wordstat, a service that displays statistics on search queries. What people are looking for in a search engine, that’s what you need to answer.
If your brand is large and widely known in the market, you can create a business account and answer questions with a verified checkbox.
Advertising in Telegram
The Telegram messenger crossed the one billion installs mark in 2021, and current circumstances will only increase this figure. It is most rational to advance in Telegram through crops – this is the placement of advertising manually, when you contact the author of the channel, find out the price, agree on the time of placement, and so on. We do not recommend launching advertising through the advertising account – it is expensive and ineffective so far.
Both of them should be made individual for each channel in the messenger in order to understand exactly which one brought the best result. To search for channels, you can use the tgstat service – it shows the main metrics: the number of subscribers, reach, engagement rate, citation index.
If we talk about other messengers, at the moment none of them is suitable for paid user acquisition. Advertising in Viber is launched from Google Ads blocked for Russia, and Whatsapp is owned by Meta, which also banned Russian users from running ads.
Instead of YouTube
An alternative to advertising on YouTube can be integration into the Kinopoisk player – this can be done through Yandex. Direct.
According to Yandex. Radar”, in June 2021 the audience of “Kinopoisk” amounted to more than 20 million people. About 80% of portal users are residents of large cities aged 18 to 45 years. The audience can be segmented by geography, gender and age, interests, behavioral characteristics and income.
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The ad formats on Kinopoisk almost completely match those on YouTube – show ads before, in the middle or at the end of the video, with the possibility of skipping, without the possibility of skipping. The price starts from 350 rubles for 1,000 impressions, but the minimum purchase is 500,000 impressions, that is, the minimum budget is 175,000 rubles. The more detailed the targeting (the more user segmentation criteria), the higher this price will be. But I advise you not to be afraid of the numbers – Netflix has suspended work in Russia, which means that the popularity of domestic streaming platforms will jump up sharply.
Promotion of goods and services through Avito
For me, at one time it was a discovery that there is a specialization “Avitologist” – a targetologist who works only with Avito. The site has its own advertising account and a huge number of placement options: a button with a logo, vertical banners, product cards, and so on.
Also on Avito, just like in social networks, it is possible not only to show your banners to all visitors, but also to target them according to the interests of your audience, launch remarketing campaigns and even create look-a-like audiences – people who are as similar as possible to your current users . These audiences are built:
● based on the base of your customers – their emails or phone numbers;
● according to the actions they took – added to the “basket”, viewed the site for more than 20 seconds, filled out the form, and so on.
Important: the minimum budget for launching advertising on Avito is 300,000 rubles per month.