While Yandex holds 65% of contextual ads market in Russia, Google is claiming to have exponential growth in revenues in the country. Eric Schmidt of Google said in his interview to Vedomosti during his visit to St. Petersburg that Russia is one of their top 5 fastest growing markets.
Google have been trying hard to gain market share in Russia and other Russian-speaking countries, using even not-so-pretty methods, such as buying Yandex.Direct related terms to promote AdWords:
I personally prefer AdWords system and interface when it comes to PPC, and here is why:
1. AdWords allows for better structure, which makes it easier to manage large accounts. Yandex.Direct does not have ad groups, so a medium sized campaign looks like a long and incomprehensible list of keywords.
2. AdWords interface is better translated! While I have no problems navigating AdWords in Russian, Yandex.Direct in English I find rather confusing. Every now and then you come across items and links in Russian; some things are literally translated from Russian and do not make much sense to non-Russian speaker.
3. Yandex.Direct doesn’t have conversion tracking as such. If you want to track conversions, you will have to install Yandex.Metrika (their Google Analytics basically), which not everyone would want.. Otherwise you’ll have to use 3rd party software.
Yandex, of course, understands semantics of the Russian better and is able to filter out unrelated queries, even when it comes to the same words having several different meanings. But to be honest, I was very surprised by the quality of Russian traffic I got from Google, even though I used broad match for all keywords. What I found interesting is :
a) Google seemed to be able to match close synonyms (nothing totally off, like you get on broad match in English sometimes, but still..)
b) Google seemed to understand transliteration from Cyrillic into Latin and vice versa.
c) Google seemed to be able to match different noun cases for targeted keywords, however not for negative keywords. Had to add all cases to the negatives manually.
All in all, Google AdWords is a fairly good platform to advertize in Russian and a good point to start working with the Russian market.