Yandex Adds Lookalike Ad Targeting Following VivaKi Partnership

In an innovative move to expand ad targeting by one of the top international search engines outside the U.S., Yandex has added lookalike audience ad targeting to its list of capabilities. The Russian search engine partnered with VivaKi last year to create a tool for targeting display ads to Web users based on time spent watching TV. Now the engine will help brands find similar audiences.

Brands can now target consumers with similar online behavior to their own site visitors who have added items to their shopping cart or completed a purchase. The actions are based on specific criteria. Google also offers audience targeting based on attributes.

Crypta, Yandex's behavior analytics technology, powers the targeting. It identifies patterns in online behavior, as well as other consumers exhibiting similar behaviors, and matches it to audiences or segments already built. Audiences are matched with the brand's own visitor data and processed through Metrica, the engine's Web analytics tool.

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A brand's Web site must have 15,000 or more weekly visitors to use the targeting technology. Consumer behavior must match at least 80% of the attributes. Initial tests with clothing company Quelle show Yandex's lookalike targeting increased click-through rates from banner ads by 300%, according to the company.

The two also experimented with manual campaign optimization, boosting Quelle's initial results by nearly 100% by the fourth week. The findings promoted Yandex to soon offer automated campaign optimization to each advertiser. Similarly, KIA Motors tested the technology. Results show a 145% increase lift in delayed conversions, compared with conversion rates with the same banner ad without the technology, when using look-alike targeting.

Piper Jaffray & Co. Analyst Gene Munster wrote in a recent research note: "Yandex, through recent moves in the browser, mobile partnerships and service promotion, has meaningfully bolstered its leadership position in the Russian online ad markets."

Yandex reported Q2 2013 revenue of 9.2 billion rubles, which beat the Street by 1% at 9.1 billion rubles, wrote Munster. He named the addition of Yandex Mail.ru as a contextual ad platform partner as being one of the search engine's most important developments to its stock model and the ability to generate revenue.

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