Digital advertising in Russia: ROI in 2018

Yandex.Direct continues to bring in higher ROI, especially for content ads

Roistat published its research into ROI across popular digital ad channels in Russia for 2018 (available here in Russian), breaking down results across different advertising channels and industries.


Digital ad ROI in Russia in 2018: key takeaways

  • As in 2017 (results available here), search ads brought in the highest ROI. This type of advertising is followed by content ads, then by social media ads.
  • Both Yandex.Direct and Google Ads remain effective in Russia, but Yandex.Direct remains more effective for search and content ads.
  • Ads targeting Moscow and Saint Petersburg have a much higher ROI than ads targeting other regions.

Roistat research methodology for 2018

Data on the ad performance of 5,000 randomly selected advertisers was tracked for all of 2018 and through 03/01/2019 to include information about the purchases made in December that were completed in February.

The formula to calculate ROI remains the same as before:  ROI = ((revenue – costs – ad expenses ) / ad expenses) * 100%.

For 2018, average ROI was calculated in 2 ways:

  • Revenue and expenses for the overall ROI across all channels.
  • Median ROI to account for major advertisers.

As previously, advertisers in the top 5% and in the bottom 5% by ROI were excluded. ROI was calculated based on the Last Nondirect Click attribution model, just as in the 2017 study.

Advertising budgets across channels

In 2018 digital advertising budgets were distributed as follows:

  • Search: 65.33%
  • Content: 25.78%
  • Social: 8.89%


In terms of average ROI, this is how these channels performed:

  • Search: 39.36%
  • Content: -4.89%
  • Social: -22.71%



Compared to 2017, budgets for social media ads grew by 3.89%, primarily driven by Facebook advertising.


ROI for Yandex.Direct and Google Ads

In 2018, 60% of the advertisers using both Google Ads and Yandex.Direct to target Russian audiences got better results from Yandex.Direct for search. For content this number is even higher, at 70%.

Roitstat experts believe that a slightly higher ROI in Yandex.Direct is due to the fact that Yandex.Direct is easier to set up, especially for display ads.



Digital ad ROI in Russia in 2018 by industry

The highest lead to sale conversion in Russia across various industries is in FMCG, probably because of quick turnaround and the relatively low average cost of orders.

Here’s additional information on lead and order conversions for other industries:






Interestingly, there are no industries where Yandex.Direct or Google Ads underperform on ROI. In some industries one of them performs better than the other one, but ultimately both of them are bringing in comparable results.


Digital ad ROI in Russia in 2018: ROI by region

There is huge potential for growth for advertising in regions outside of Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

This is how content and search ads performed in 2018 by region:

  • content ads ROI: 31.41 in Moscow, 30.70 in Saint Petersburg, -35.21 in other regions
  • search ads ROI: 69.39 in Moscow, 64.14 in Saint Petersburg, -7.28 in other regions



Roistat experts point out that this might be because most advertisers are not creating ads for specific cities in the regions, which leads to overspending. Creating campaigns targeting large regional cities with populations over 1 million people can help avoid that.

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