Improve effectiveness of your online advertising with Yandex.Direct retargeting

Retargeting is a technology within display advertising that allows advertisers to reach audiences that have already visited their website in the past. When used correctly and combined with the right marketing message, retargeting can significantly increase effectiveness of online advertising.

Yandex has been providing retargeting technology since 2013. Retargeting in Yandex is easily configured in the Yandex.Direct interface and allows ads to show on the Yandex Content Network to audiences defined by Yandex.Metrica goals.

Pre-requirements for retargeting in Yandex.Direct

Retargeting in Yandex is available for all Yandex.Direct advertisers. In order start using retargeting, the following requirements have to be met:

  • Yandex.Metrica needs to be installed on your website and connected to your Yandex.Direct account.
  • Yandex.Metrica goals need be set up prior to configuring retargeting rules.

Once these conditions are fulfilled, “retargeting criteria” option will become available in Yandex.Direct interface.

Setting up retargeting in Yandex.Direct

Before setting up the campaign, you need to decide what you want to achieve with it. For example, you might want to reach people who visited your site but did not make a purchase, or people who put something in the shopping cart but did not complete the purchase, and give them an incentive to come back to your store and buy.

Once you know the purpose of your retargeting campaign and what kind of audiences you would like to retarget, setting up the campaign is a matter of minutes. Just follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Create a campaign targeting Yandex Content Network

Retargeting campaigns are eligible to run on Yandex Content Network only, and not on search. Therefore, your retargeting campaign needs to have “Independent management of search and content sites” set as the strategy.


Step 2: Create an ad group with retargeting criteria

Audiences for retargeting are specified on ad group level. When creating an ad group, you will be presented with an option to select retargeting criteria.


The choice of criteria will include all people who visited your website and all goals that are available in your Yandex.Metrica. The audiences that are based on these goals can be added as target audiences or as negative audiences. For example, you can target all people who visited your site but exclude everyone who has already converted.


If you would like to target an audience that visited a certain page or section of your website, you would need set up a goal for it in Yandex.Metrica. At the moment it is not possible to create audiences based on URLs in Yandex.Direct interface.

Step 3: Set the bids

For all campaigns on Yandex Content Network Yandex.Direct helps estimating percentage of audience coverage, which is a prediction of how likely your ads are to be shown on Yandex Advertising Network, for every bid level. However, when starting a new campaign that targets content sites only (which is the type of campaign you use for retargeting), the coverage estimate might not be available, as the system doesn’t not have sufficient data to calculate it.


From the start set a bid that is high enough to get initial traffic and after a few days once coverage estimates are available start optimizing bids up or down. For retargeting I often recommend aiming for 100% coverage, as you are dealing with people, who have already shown initial interest in your product and hence are more likely to convert.

Considerations for using retargeting

  • Make sure the segmentation of visitors you retarget is detailed enough to create relevant ads for each audience. At the same time, audiences should be large enough to deliver traffic volumes.
  • Retargeting campaigns need to be optimized just like a normal YAN campaign. Go through placements on a regular basis and exclude the ones that do not perform, add negative keywords to make sure the ads show up on relevant pages, and of course, experiment with ads to ensure the best CTR and conversion rates.
  • Take buying cycle into consideration when setting up retargeting conditions. If your product is expensive (for example, exclusive designed bag), it might take longer for the customer decide whether they want to buy it or not (or they simply might want to wait until the pay day), so you might consider to retarget them for, say, 30 days. If the product has a bit more urgency to it (for example, flower delivery), you might want to choose to retarget the visitors for 3-5 days instead, as people normally do not order flowers one month before the actual occasion.