VK, better known as VKontakte, is a Russian social network ranked by Alexa as the second most popular website in Russia after Yandex. At 300+ million registered users and around 85 million active users, VK has a lot of potential to attract customers to your service. VK appeals to an audience of mainly under 30-year-olds, with the older demographics preferring the OK.ru social platform.

Following last year’s change of management, VK’s new CEO has been paying more attention to revenue-producing aspects of the social platform, working towards better advertising integration and new ways of delivering paid content.

If you are looking to enter the Russian market or are already operating there, but want to optimise your impact, then VK has a number of features for you to consider, as well as a couple of pitfalls to be avoided: deceptive CPC prices, ad approvals and frequency caps.

Effective targeting

VK’s ad platform is able to deliver results and has an English interface that is easy to navigate. It provides clicks from chosen demographics from across 11-hour zones in Russia and Russian speaking countries, driving your website visits and brand exposure. As you would expect from a major social media platform, VK’s targeting options cover age, geography, family status, OS, job title and many more. Having ads on the side of the menu along with the ability to promote posts within user’s timelines makes it attractive for a wide range of advertising campaigns. There is also an option to advertise within groups and, an ad-exchange section is available for that purpose.

An ad exchange section of VK

As an advertiser, you are able to see demographic breakdowns for each group (group behaviour and interface is similar to ‘pages’ in Facebook), so that you can select the best groups for the campaign. From the advertiser’s perspective you can request to be advertised in a group and set the price you are willing to pay; from a group owner’s perspective the ad gets evaluated and then it’s either processed to be scheduled for advertising or rejected. This methodology works especially well with younger audiences, provided that the promoted content is relevant to the group and its readers.

Side menu advertising is available in three sizes:
Small image and text (90x65)
Large image (90x120)
Exclusive (90x160)

The Large image(90x120) option works well as it provides an image large enough to be noticed along with a reasonable CPC price. Ruble is currently the only currency that can be used within the platform.

Similar to Facebook and Google AdWords, VK offers a retartgetting option. It can collect a list of users who visit your website and have a profile through a tag on your website, making retargeting easy. Additionally, if a database of users (emails, phone numbers or VK IDs) is available, you can upload the data to such targeted users.

Avoiding pitfalls

VK, like many social networks, does have some areas for improvement. For example, a frequency cap is not an option. This is one of the reasons why VK will spend all dedicated budget and provide clicks, no matter how many times users have been served an ad. A simple solution is to turn off the content based on how many times an ad was shown to an individual user, e.g. once it has been shown 2-2.5 times.

One more thing to keep in mind: look out for suggested CPCs, which do not correspond to their true value. After some experimentation, we have found that it is possible to decrease estimated CPC by 50% and still receive the required clicks.

Lately, political censorship has been increasing so don’t be surprised when innocent-looking content does not get approved due to violating Terms and Conditions. The VK team conducts evaluation of ads, each one assessed based on its text, imagery and destination URL. Policy is similar to other advertisement platforms, however topics loosely related to forbidden topics (alcohol, drugs, gambling etc.) can also face disapproval. In the case of disapproval, it is possible to request re-evaluation or question the reasoning of a disapproval through VK support service.

If you are promoting your brand, products and services to Russia, VK is a flexible platform and an effective gateway into the Russian audience for a reasonable price and accessibility with an English language interface. Удачи!


By Frank Fanteev, Junior Paid Media Analyst at Oban International

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