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What sources can traffic from Russia be redirected to?

After the political and economic situation in the world changed globally in February 2022, Internet marketing faced its own challenges. Many sources of quality traffic have left the Russian space, some have been blocked or have changed the conditions for selling and buying advertising.  Where has the Russian audience gone from the blocked sources and where can the traffic be redirected to?

Data as of 14 March 2022. The information is constantly being updated! 

The Russian authorities do not envisage penalties for bypassing blocking and connecting to social networks through the use of VPNs. “There is no liability in the law, including criminal law, for having accounts in social networks. The purpose of the mentioned actions of the Prosecutor General’s Office is to protect the rights of citizens, and to block extremist resources, not criminal repression against Russian citizens,” Senator Andrey Klishas told the citizens.

Which traffic sources no longer work in Russia?

On 4 March 2022, Google stopped placing and selling advertising in Russia. Restrictions affected search results, YouTube and the affiliate network. 

  • On March 10, the Google Cloud service suspended registration of new customers from Russia.
  • Even earlier, Google had banned Russian users from buying applications in Play Market. At the moment, it is only possible to use free content, all previously purchased applications will work. 
  • Google Pay payment service has stopped making payments for Russians. Read more about all payment systems: What payment systems work in Russia?

Starting March 10, 2022 YouTube stopped all monetization features for Russian users: Premium and Youtube Music subscriptions, sponsorship, superchat, superstickers and merch. Prior to that, the platform stopped showing advertisements to Russian viewers, a portion of the revenue from which was going to the authors of the videos.

On March 7, TikTok suspended the ability to upload new videos and host live broadcasts for authors from Russia. The platform itself attributed this to security concerns following the adoption of the “fake news” law.  It also emerged afterwards that Russian users could no longer access recordings from other countries, only domestic clips could be watched. Consequently, videos of Russian clients are not shown abroad either. New ad campaigns cannot be launched; all existing ones are re-moderated for the presence of political advertising.

  • How to bypass the blocking of TikTok? Some users have already found a way of bypassing: you need to connect a foreign virtual SIM card to your account instead of a Russian one.
  • In 2021, TikTok became the most visited website in the world, with an audience of more than 1 billion people. 

On 4 March, Roskomnadzor “took measures to partially restrict access in the form of slowing down traffic” to the social network Facebook due to discrimination against some official Russian media. Instagram was also restricted (hiding subscriptions of users from Russia and Ukraine, Russian language disabled).

  • Almost 99% of Russia’s largest advertisers suspended Instagram and Facebook campaigns due to the slowdown of social network traffic by Roskomnadzor.
  • At the same time, representatives of Meta said that they did not intend to disconnect Facebook and Instagram in Russia on their own.

On 11 March 2022, information emerged about a change in moderation rules: Meta allowed calls for violence against Russian citizens.  The Prosecutor General’s Office demanded that Instagram be blocked and that Meta be declared an extremist organisation. On 14 March 2022, Roskomnadzor added Instagram to its register of banned websites. Officially, the social network is blocked throughout Russia. Recall that Meta also owns the messenger WhatsApp. All of you should urgently switch to Telegram!  Roskomnadzor has said that Instagram’s access has been restricted. 

  • How to bypass the blocking of Facebook and Instagram? At the moment, the network can only be accessed via VPN. 

Access to Twitter is restricted by Roskomnadzor.  You can’t do anything: watch, read, post, buy ads.

Which sources continue to work and where to find an audience from Russia?

Russian users are actively seeking replacements for familiar services and entertainment. In this regard, the audience of Yappy, VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and Rutube has grown significantly in recent days.

  • “The withdrawal of foreign platforms from Russia is a sad trend, it is a threat, but it is also an opportunity for Russian platforms”, stated Gazprom-Media. 

Data provided by Gazprom-Media (March 9, 2022), and Similar Web Pro research (from 24.02 to 06.03), Romir Research Holding (from 24.02 to 10.03).

Due to the block of TikTok and Facebook in the Russian Federation, Russian users migrated to the VKontakte network. The site’s audience grew by 200,000 new users in just a few days, and video views almost doubled over the week of February 28. The news format is also in demand: views in the news feed rose by 5%.

Until April 10 VKontakte will have the biggest support program for bloggers: the authors will get 100% of income from monetization tools (“Affiliate Program,” “Market Platform,” “Monetization of Video” and VK Donut). Video and audio content can be monetized in communities of 5,000 people or more.

By the end of the year 2021, the revenue of the platform increased by 21.9% to 27.9 billion roubles. 

The Odnoklassniki social network (VK group) increased the number of authors by 20%. According to other data, there are no particular changes in audience and time of attendance. This is one of the most stable social networks with an established micro-community, communication style, and justified audience expectations. 

Rutube video streaming (as an alternative to YouTube), owned by Gazprom-Media, increased the number of users by 5.5 times.

Gazprom-Media also owns the short video social network Yappy (an analogue of TikTok), launched in late November 2021. By March 1, the service had already gained 1.4 million users. 

Chinese service of short videos Kwai (belongs to Chinese social networks giant Kuaishou) may also become an alternative to TikTok. The platform was launched in 2013 and initially targeted low-income users (drivers, couriers, farmers, factory workers and artisans). The service also targets markets in Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Chile and Argentina.

Audiences from Twitter and Facebook have migrated to Livejournal as well: its traffic grew by 0.3 million and the number of unique users by 30%. This fact, according to analysts, also indicates that Russia is returning to earlier forms of online communication: forums, group chats and local networks. 

Telegram has become an important source of up-to-the-minute news content: following the start of social network blockades, the average time spent on Telegram increased by 20%, and the audience of news channels grew by 4 million subscribers. Russia as a whole has seen an increase in average daily Telegram outreach – by almost a third (from 18.3% to 23.2%). On March 14, the messenger released an update: it is possible to manage uploads and the order of photos and videos in albums. A video streaming function also appeared.

On 4 March, Yandex.Zen (where Instagram users went) changed its payment system for authors. The platform switched to a subscription model. It means that only subscribers will see the publications, and authors will receive money for interaction (likes, views, comments, increase in the number of subscribers) rather than for ad impressions. At the same time, the service promises higher daily payments.  According to Yandex.Zen’s own data, its daily audience was 22.3 million users in 2021 (up 10% year-on-year). Since February 24, the audience has grown by 0.4 million users and 1 million visitors per day.

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