Yandex 20th Birthday: 10 Facts for the Russian Digital Ad Community

Yandex 20th birthday was last week on September 23rd! In celebration of Yandex’s birthday month, Russian Search Marketing decided to review 10 of the most memorable developments and moments for Yandex in the past 20 years that relate to international digital advertising community. From the Yandex search platform, to advertising opportunities on other Yandex services, to the online shopping platform where over 20,000 domestic and international eRetailers list their products today, Yandex has grown into much more than a search platform. As put by CEO, Arkady Volozh in a blog post on the birthday, “The user’s journey doesn’t end with search. We understood that very early on.”

1997: was first unveiled as the search engine, in 1997 at the SofTool Exhibition. At the time of it’s unveiling Runet was indexed, consisting of 5,000 sites and 4GB of text. People at the exhibition were able to test Yandex on the computer by submitting questions and receiving answers back. At this time Yandex was able to consider the morphology of the Russian Language, rank documents, and consider the distance between words.

1998: Yandex began showing contextual banner ads in 1998 to help users find what they are looking for. At the time Contextual advertising would become Yandex’s main business model, because it had not yet existed in 1998.

2000: Yandex expanded its services offered to users, with the launch of Yandex News, Yandex Mail, Yandex.Catalog, site hosting, Yandex Bookmarks, Yandex Goods. Yandex Goods would later become what today is now known as Yandex.Market.

2001: Yandex released Yandex.Direct, which was the Runet’s first contextual Ad placement system. Yandex also expanded more its services to include the early beginnings of Yandex.Dictionaries, which were at first known as and Yandex.Encyclopedias.

2002: Yandex helps users better navigate the online and offline world with eCommerce by expanding Online payments and image search services. 2002 marks the year Yandex.Images and Yandex.Market opened.

2003: Yandex.Direct service switched to an auction-based ad placement system, and pay per click.

2005: Yandex Advertising Network launched in 2005. Today, the contextual advertising network reaches 74 million Russian consumers.

2008: Yandex’s monthly audience reached 18 million people in 2008!

2016: Yandex rolled out a new search algorithm, Palekh that employs neural networks to retrieve search results based on meaning rather than keywords.

2017: Yandex audience exceeds 40 million monthly users! Yandex also announced, Korolyov, a new neural network algorithm that significantly improves upon its predecessor, Palekh.   Korolyov matches the meaning of a search query to all of the content of a web page, whereas Palekh only looked at headlines. Yandex also applies Korolyov to a far greater number of the top relevant pages than Palekh – 200 000 vs 150 per search query.