Russia: developments in social advertising

Developments in the social advertising sector

How much have CSOs lost due to the loss of advertising on banned social networks and has the crisis changed the social advertising market?


The Coordinating Council on Social Advertising and Social Communications of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation met on 1 April.

The issue of how to support CSOs in the new sanctions environment is a common topic on many platforms.  According to the chair of the Civic Chamber Commission and director of the Agency for Social Information Elena Topoleva, the sanctions have mainly hit fundraising organisations.

The difficulties experienced by CSOs are primarily linked to receiving donations and the increasing cost of essential goods.  In light of such difficulties social advertising is a vital and highly popular fundraising tool.

Effects on fundraising

Sofia Zhukova, executive director of the Nuzhna Pomosh (Help Needed) Foundation notes that CSOs are currently experiencing problems with fundraising and a reduction in the number of donations.  This is due to donors with foreign payment cards no longer being able to make donations, the blocking of payment systems and the inability to operate on Meta’s (classified as an extremist organisation in Russia) social networks, which means CSOs cannot buy advertising space on them.

“ According to our data the Podsolnukh (Sunflower) Foundation has lost 80 percent of its subscribers since losing access to Instagram and Facebook (platforms belonging to Meta, which is banned in Russia).  The charitable foundation Rasprav Krylia (Spread Your Wings) has reported that 40 percent  of its donations came via these social networks, for the Vtoroe Dykhanie (Second Breath) Foundation it was 75 percent and  85 percent for the Vremia Detstva (Time of Childhood) Foundation.  Organisations are losing the income streams that they used to have” reports Zhukova.

CSOs are moving over to VK (VKontakte) and Odnoklassniki (Schoolmates), two Russian social networks which are still operating. VK has given some grants for advertising, but according to Nuzhna Pomosh CSOs have not seen a visible effect on their fundraising.  Vremia Detstva also reports that despite grants for advertising on Yandex.Reklama there has been no conversion into an increase in donations.

Nuzhna Pomosh surveyed 95 regional foundations on the quotas that have been given for external and social advertising in the media.  71 percent responded that they had not used their quota, either because they were unaware of it or because they feared bureaucratic red tape.

Topoleva says that there are problems with the quota since, although it is written into law, there is no mechanism for ensuring it is met.

However, those organisations who have been able to run their social adverts on television have not seen the same drop in donations, according to Maria Zalunina, head of corporate and social responsibility at National Mediagroup.


Plans to support the sector

Tatiana Evlamplieva, head of the department for strategic development and innovation in the Ministry of Economic Development, points out that the state is only the third player in social advertising, the main two being the commercial and non-commercial sectors working in partnership.

However, the Ministry of Economic Development plans to ensure regional authorities engage with the issue by both better informing CSOs of the existing social advertising opportunities and also helping to widen such opportunities.

VK is planning to develop its own internal system of donations, says Ekaterina Koncheva, head of the VKontakte Charitable Programme.  She says that the social network itself has noted a low conversion rate into donations from advertising campaigns.  To improve this it intends to analyse personal advertising accounts and advertising tools to discover how they can emulate other social networks which garner more donations.

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