In one of my resent posts I wrote about the test Yandex was running with Yandex.Direct layout placing ads to the bottom of the page instead of the right side of the SERP. The test proved to be successful, and the CTR for the ads positioned in the bottom of the page was 2,5 times higher than it used to be for the ads on the right hand side. Given the significant improvement in click through rates, Yandex rolled out the change to all Yandex.Direct ads.
While the new layout results in better performance, there are now fewer ad slots on the page – 3 for “premium” placement ads (on the top of the search results) and 4 for “guaranteed” placement ads (previously the top positions on the right, now – the ad slots under the search results). The so-called dynamic ad slots will be moved to the 2nd, 3rd and later SERPs, and therefore will get fewer impressions.
The new ad slot in the bottom of the page received the same design and features that the premium ad slot: same background color, favicons, and site links:
Yandex keeps tweaking their advertising products and making them better. In the beginning of the year the company introduced 3 new features to make Yandex.Direct ads more effective.
1. Image ads for Yandex Advertising Network (YAN)
Being used to Google AdWords, I was always missing image ad formats in Yandex content network. Images are so much more appealing; they attract attention and give better impression about the product than boring text links.
Finally, last week Yandex introduced image ads for YAN. They are not exactly banners, but it is a huge improvement.
This week the new ads are being shown and tested on Yandex properties, and will spread over Yandex Advertising Network from 28th of March.
The images can be easily added via Yandex.Direct interface by uploading files from the Internet or computer. The format for the images is very flexible:
- GIF, PNG or JPG file types
- size from 150 to 5000X5000 pixel
- weight up to 10MB
The early adopters reported 60-400% increase in CTR, lower CPC and better ROI. However, the advertisers, who are not satisfied with the performance of image ads, can easily opt out and return to text link ads.
Favicons now are more important than ever. They have to be created with care, and the yellow background of Yandex ads should be taken into consideration.
3. Search ads in the bottom of the page
The “guaranteed” placements ad units (ads on the right side of search results) now can be also shown in the bottom of the page.
This feature has been rolled out for a small number of queries, but the the trials have shown that in a lot of cases moving guaranteed placements to the bottom of the SERP results into better CTR, more clicks and lower CPC.
Yandex shows up to 4 ads in this new placement, and like for ads in the premium placement, displays sitelinks.
All these new features allow advertisers to better utilize Yandex.Direct and get more traffic and leads from existing campaigns.
One of the major Russian social networks, also known as the Russian Facebook-clone, vKontakte (aka VK) announced upcoming launch of two new advertizing products: their own ad network and retargeting platform.
vKontakte ad network
The ad network is said to be launched in mid-October. It will allow publishers to place blocks of vKontakte ads on their sites. Webmasters will receive 50% of advertising revenue, which is comparable with AdSense and Yandex Advertising Network. At the first stage, the ads will be shown only to logged in to vKontakte users. For those questioning the size of this audience size, VK opened up visitors stats on LiveInternet.ru – please got in and have a look. Nothing is said about targeting options or quality of the publishers in the network.
Retargeting technology, being somewhat of a hype in the West, is not at all developed in Russia. Just a few weeks ago I received a question about retargeting options in Russia, and I couldn’t really name any big players. Yandex recently launched search retargeting, however it is unlikely that a small or medium size business could benefit from it. The categories available for targeting are just too broad. Now, the game might change with vKontakte entering the field.
The vKontakte retargeting feature, similar (surprise!) to Facebook Exchange, will be launched in December. Facebook Exchange retargeting apparently showed exceeding all expectation results for some advertisers, so it might be an idea to try VK retargeting in the Russian market.
How to select TOPICS in Yandex Display Network targeting (just like AdWords)?
First of all, there is a difference between Yandex content network and display advertising on Yandex.
Buying display advertising on Yandex
Yandex does offer display advertising, but it is by no means the same as advertising on GDN. Yandex’s offering is more of an old-school display type with CPM pricing, however recently they introduced some interesting targeting options:
1. Thematic groups: similar to Topic & Interest targeting. The topics are defined based on users’ search history.
2. Demographics: targeting of certain age and gender groups; can be combined with geotargeting.
3. Mobile versions of various parts of Yandex portal (PDA)
Display ads can be purchased on Yandex properties and / or Yandex advertising network. For example, a placement can look like this:
There is no self-serving platfotm for Yandex display advertising. If you are interested in this product, you will have to get in touch with Yandex representatives.
How to advertise on Yandex content network
Yandex content network (also Yandex Ad Network or YAN) is a network of websites available for targeting via Yandex.Direct. The only format supported there is text ads, and there is no possibility to use any kind of image ads.
Just like with AdSense, publishers are able to style the ads according to their website design. For example, text ads on Yandex content network can look like this:
The only way of targeting on Yandex content network is keywords. Nothing similar to Google’s topics or interest targeting is available at the moment. I also discovered from my own experience that not any keywords are eligible for targeting. They keywords in the campaign have to match the content of the ad and landing page copy.
For example, let’s say we are selling fashionable high heeled shoes. When working with Google display network, we are able to target pages that talk about fashion, or clubbing, or make up tips, in other words pages that our target audience might find interesting. These sites can probably bring leads, because we serve the content to the same crowd: interested in fashion young ladies. With Yandex, however, we will only be able to target pages (keywords) that talk about shoes. Entering make up related keywords will get our ads rejected.
Sitelinks have been a widely-used practice in Google AdWords for a number of years. I think sitelinks are great; they take up more ad space on the SERP, make your ad more noticeable, tell more about your company or service and guide the visitors to specific products or categories you want to promote.
Recently Yandex also began offering a possibility to create sitelinks in Yandex.Direct. In this post I will explain how to do it.
About sitelinks in Yandex PPC
The product provided by Yandex is very similar to sitelinks in Google AdWords. The differences are minor:
1. Yandex sitelinks can only be displayed for the ad in the first position, while in Google sitelinks appear for ads in top 3 positions.
2. It is only possible to add 3 sitelinks to a Yandex ad, while Google can show up to 4.
3. Yandex sitelinks are displayed under the ad title in one line. In AdWords you see the sitelinks under the ad, and they can be arranged as a line or as two columns.
4. Yandex sitelinks are added on ad level, and not on campaign level, like in AdWords.
How to create sitelinks in Yandex.Direct interface
Configuring sitelinks is easily done through Yandex.Direct online interface. When creating or modifying an ad, just click the small “sitelinks” link under the URL field:
Then enter the link texts and corresponding URLs, and that’s all.
Alternatively, you can create the sitelinks in the desktop editor for Yandex PPC campaigns Direct.Commander. The tool is quite handy, however it is only available in Russian at the moment.
According to Yandex, using sitelinks can lift ad CTR by up to 40%. The average uplift in CTR for most advertisers is around 9%.
I’ve been writing a lot about Yandex SEM platform Yandex.Direct, but I never touched the other possibility of advertising with Yandex: Display. Apart from text ads on Yandex content network, there is also a possibility to buy classic display ads on Yandex properties. Here is some information about media buying possibilities on Yandex, for those who are interested. In this article though, I would like to talk more about their newly introduced feature: search retargetng.
Search retargeting on Yandex
Search retargeting on Yandex, in theory, works in a similar way as with the known players in the niche such as Simpli.fi, Magnetic.is, Chango etc., there are however a few differences:
1. Inventory: while most of the retargeting providers buy the inventory from other sources; Yandex only displays retargeting ads on its own properties (namely Postcards, Dictionaries, Auto, Email, TV, Jobs, Weather, News and Timetables).
2. Targeting: unlike other search retargeting providers, Yandex does not support keyword-level targeting. What Yandex does is segmenting people into groups by common interests based on their search queries. There groups (interests) can be targeted with advertising, so in the end of the day the targeting more resembles Google’s Interests & Topics than search retargeting as it is known in the Western world.
Yandex search retargeting categories
The following categories and subcategories are available for targeting:
Retargeting campaigns can be only run in Russia. No self-service interface is available for now.
One of my readers recently asked me how to estimate the budget needed for a PPC campaign on Yandex Direct. Google provides quite good tools for that to anyone who has a Google account, and so does Yandex, just in a slightly clumsier way.
How much my keyword costs on Yandex?
Right on the front page of Yandex Direct, in the top right corner, there are two not very prominent, but important items: Keyword Selection and Budget Forecast. That’s where you start gathering the information.
Keyword Selection in linked to Yandex’s keyword tool also known as Yandex Wordstat. The tool provides keyword ideas and monthly search volumes for specified country or region. Although the suggestions from Yandex Wordstat are integrated into Yandex Direct interface and can be accessed easily at the stage of creating ads, I still prefer compiling my keyword lists using this tool.
Budget forecast is linked to a tool that estimates number of impressions per month, average CPC, CTR and monthly budget for a keyword/ number of keywords in a specified country or region. The tool, once found, is very easy to use: simply enter the keywords and the geotargeting you are interested in to get the estimates:
* On the right there is a box with additional keyword suggestions that are taken from Yandex Wordstat. As I mentioned, I prefer using the Wordstat tool for compiling keyword lists, because even though it is integrated on various stages of creating Yandex PPC campaigns, it is not as convenient. In this case, for example, search volumes for keyword suggestions are not displayed.
Once keywords and geotargeting are selected, simply click “Calculate” and you will be presented with a table like this:
Everything seems to be clear from the first look, try to figure out how much does this keyword actually cost.
Yandex Direct budget forecast FAQ
Indeed, this table that can be a bit confusing. I will try to explain some things I found difficult to understand when I just started working with Yandex PPC.
1. Average CPC is given for 3 placement types. What are these placements?
Unlike AdWords keyword tool, where CPC estimates are given for top position, Yandex calculates CPC for 3 different types of placements, which are defined as:
Premium placement: your ad will be displayed to the left of the page directly above the search results.
1st place: your ad will be displayed first on the right side of the SERP.
Guaranteed placement: your ad will be displayed on the right under the ad occupying the 1st place.
2. Average CPC is shown in y.e. What kind of money is that?
Y.e. is actually not translated from Russian in this case. The abbreviation is similar to something called “coin of account” (cab be also referred to as a “unit”), and equals to 30 Russian rubles in this case.
Using “units” for indicating prices became a common practice in Russia in the beginning of 90s, when the economy was extremely unstable and due to hyper-inflation it was very hard to set prices in rubles. Paying in US dollars, especially for imported goods, was a usual thing, but due to legal restrictions merchant could not write dollar prices on their price tags. That is how y.e. was introduced.
Today y.e. is still in use in Russia, however not to a very large extent, and most of the time equals a price of 1 USD or 1 Euro.
3. The budget forecast is shown in units. What are these units?
The units are the same as y.e. in the average CPC column, and equals to 30 Russian rubles in this case.
Tips for budget estimation for Yandex Direct
Once you are used to it, Yandex Direct is not really complex to work with. However, there are a few things that can affect the performance of your campaigns, positively if you are aware of them, and negatively, if you are not.
Yandex match types
I already wrote an extensive posts covering match types in Yandex, but it is always good to remind: Yandex Wordstat gives search volumes only in broad match. If you are interested in buying phrase or exact matched keyword, use operators ” ” and !. Although it will not change the CPC forecast, estimated impressions and CTR will vary depending on a match type.
Geotargeting and CPC levels
It is not a secret that the majority of Russian online purchases are made from Moscow region, and the PPC space is much more competitive there too. This is why I usually advise to separate Moscow region into a campaign of it’s own. Just compare: the CPC for “доставка цветов “(flower delivery) in Moscow region is between and units, while in the rest of the country (excluding Moscow) it is between 0.68 – 2.3 units depending on a placement type. Selecting Russia as geo-targeting would give an estimated CPC of 4.30 – 4.55 units. Bidding according to this estimate would result into too low positions in Moscow (where most of your customers are) and unnecessarily high positions in the rest of the country.
Social networking is huge in Russia. Already back in 2009 Russians were pronounced the most engaged social networking audience in the world. The latest statistics, according to rocID.ru (in Russian), say that 82% of all Internet users in Russia (which is by the way 70 million people) have an account in at least one social network. In 2010 only 52% of Internet users were socially engaged, so the increase is quite significant, as you can see.
The most “popular” Russian social network, according to rocID, is Odnoklassniki.ru, with 73% of all Russian Internet users being registered there, followed by vKontakte (62%), MoiMir @ Mail.ru (31%) and Facebook (18%).
Interestingly, only 5% of Internet users had Facebook accounts in 2010, according to last year’s research.
Advertising opportunities in Russian social networks
I am sure most of us played with Facebook advertising to some extent (and probably different degree of success). Despite the strong growth throughout last year, Facebook advertising in Russia will probably not give the reach you are hoping for. There are however other options.
Being the largest Russian social network, Odnoklassniki is the least flexible when it comes to advertising possibilities. They only offer banner advertising, charging CPM of 70 Russian rubles (2,3 USD or 1,75 EUR). Available targeting options are gender, age and location.
Text ads on Odnoklassniki are powered by Yandex.Direct and Begun, on CPC basis, but without social targeting.
Being a Facebook clone, vKontakte also has a similar advertising platform. The ads look somewhat similar to Facebook’s and can be targeted by:
- Gender, age, relationship status, country and city, street, metro stations etc.
- University, school and a year of graduation
- Interests and topics
Pricing models are CPC or CPM (again, just like on Facebook).
Like everything else in Russia, vKontakte advertising is not so easy to set up for non-Russian residents. They suggest to contact their sales department for more information.
MoiMir PPC advertising platform is relatively new. It was created in spring 2011. Just like Odnoklassniki advertising, Moi Mir ads are powered by Mail.ru and only available on CPM basis.
MoiMir ads offer not only banners, but also sponsored videos and video pre-rolls.
One of my readers asked to explain how Yandex Direct works with geotargeting. Yandex’s PPC solution is not at all as straightforward and user-friendly as Google’s AdWords and can be pretty confusing in the beginning. Once you get used to it though, it is actually quite a good product.
AdWords provides many more options when it comes to campaign settings, including geotargeting possibilities. I will, however, try to make some parallels between the two PPC platforms.
1. How Yandex Direct geotargeting works
To understand how Yandex Direct geotargeting works, it is very important to remember what the PPC campaign structure looks like. Yandex does not support ad groups, so a Direct campaign would be typically structured as follows:
In Yandex Direct geotargeting settings are available on both campaign and ad level, while in AdWords – only on campaign level.
Location-wise, you can target almost any place in the world with your Yandex Direct PPC campaigns. Africa can be only targeted as a whole continent. In Europe, Asia, Americas and Oceania geotargeting is possible on a country level, however not all countries can be included. Middle East and Baltic states are also available as regions.
In CIS (former Soviet Union republics, excluding Russia) geotargeting can be done on a country, region and city level. Country-level targeting is available for all CIS countries; in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine it is possible to target districts inside the countries. City-level geotargeting is available only in Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
In Russia geotargeting can be done on a country, region, district and city level.
2. How to configure geotargeting for Yandex PPC campaigns
First of all, geotargeting can be only configured in the web interface. Although Yandex recently released a desktop application for managing Direct campaigns, it is very basic and does not allow modifying campaigns settings.
When creating a campaign or an ad via Yandex Direct web interface, after specifying keywords, negative keywords and Yandex Catalog categories, Yandex will ask to “select display regions”. That is where you will find all the places you can target with your ads. Just tick the boxes with countries/ regions/ cities you are interested in, and with that it’s all done!
If you need to change geotargeting settings for a campaign, go to the campaign management page. Change Settings option will be in the menu on the left-hand side.
To change geotargeting settings for an ad, click “Edit ad” and adjust the targeting in “Select display regions” field.
Geotargeting in Yandex.Direct vs. Google AdWords
Generally, as shown in the table below, Google offers more precise geotargeting possibilities than Yandex. When it comes to Russia, however, Google only offers to target regions inside the country, while Yandex allows targeting on a city level.
Google also offers something called “search intent targeting”, which essentially means that if I am searching for “designer handbags UK” sitting in Stockholm, I will be shown ads that target UK-based audience. Yandex does not have similar feature as such, but the machine learning technology MatrixNet that powers both organic and paid results does similar job, without us knowing it.