The market of electronic currencies is Russia is quite young, but already very aggressive. Just like with social networking and search, it is dominated by local players, leaving the world-known brands far behind.
Online payments in Russia
Even through cash is still the most common way to pay for online purchases in Russia, other means of payment are becoming more and more used. According to the latest TNS research (in Russian), 35% of the respondents use credit cards for making online purchases, 27% – electronic currencies, and 17% – online banking services. Among these, e-currencies usage demonstrates the fastest growth. The turnover of the market doubled in 2011 reaching 125 billion Russian rubles (around 4.2 billion US dollars).
Yesterday morning Russian Internet press reported that Yandex and Skype signed an agreement and will begin promoting each others’ services in Russia.
Skype will offer everyone who downloads their PC client to install a browser extension Yandex Bar. Yandex Bar, in exchange, will display Skype account balance and provide an easy way to top up Skype account via Yandex Money. This looks like a good way for Yandex to attract more users and possibly regain the market share that they lost to Google last year. In 2011 Skype showed 40% increase in Russian user base ending the year with 22,4 million registered accounts.
So what does Skype get in return? From what I read today it is very unclear: Skype will be promoted on Yandex sites and properties (which is of course a lot of traffic), but it is not specified how.
November 23, 2011: just before a series of SEO conferences and events across the Russian speaking space Yandex released yet another version of ranking formula. For now it only affects “commercially oriented queries” (read SERPs for e-commerce sites) in Moscow region, but seeing the past developments with Google I believe I can make some bold assumptions about where Yandex is heading.
A few days ago Yandex posted several interesting job openings, including server-side SERP developer and research technician for SERP speed project. Later Anatoliy Orlov (acting Head of Development at Yandex) shared some comments in his private blog.
Yandex.Direct is AdWords of Yandex. It works almost the same way and looks very similar.
This week Yandex has started to show up to 3 sponsored links above organic search results, while before the maximum amount of paid ads was 2. Yandex claims that this will affect only the most competitive keywords, i.e. not more than 2% of all queries.
More sponsored links in Yandex SERPs
According to SearchEngines.ru Internet audience is not very fond of increased amount of paid listings. A large amount of people have screens with resolution lower than 768px (e.g. netbooks users) and cannot see organic search results at all.
In blogs and forums Yandex is being compared with Chinese Baidu, where all 10 top results can be paid listings =)