Russian-language search engine Yandex has long been referred to as the “Russian Google.” But in the area of ad-blocking, Yandex is leaving the world’s third-most-valuable brand behind, implementing a native ad blocker for messaging that doesn’t abide by IAB Russia’s standards.
The company’s troubles with third-party ad blockers reflect those of Google quite closely, with overzealous ad blocking hurting Yandex’s bottom line.
“The desire to see less advertising is understandable, but the blockers solve the problem too uncompromisingly,” the company wrote in its first announcement of its native ad blocking intentions, in December of last year. “Advertising is important and for Yandex is one of the main sources of revenue for the company.”
Google is implementing a similar native ad blocker to its Chrome browser, which will remove all ads from sites that don’t follow its Better Ads Standards, on February 15. This gives marketers the chance to test the consequences of a native ad blocker in a much smaller market (Yandex’s ad revenue in 2016 was 1.5 percent that of Google’s), and tweak their own plans before larger players implement the same.
But most importantly, Yandex’s implementation of a native ad blocker puts to bed claims that Google’s attempts to clean up its ad space are uncalled for or overreaching. With third-party ad blocker saturation reaching 30 percent in both Russia and the US, ad marketplaces have stepped in to prevent users dropping out, where advertisers and publishers have declined to.
Industry groups like the IAB and the ANA have long established best practices for digital ads that don’t interfere with user browsing, but their voluntary nature did not stem the tide of rapid ad blocking growth. If technology gatekeepers like Google and Yandex didn’t enforce compliance, who would?
Dmitry Timko, head of Yandex.Browser, summed up the need in a statement to TechCrunch: “Native ad blocking eliminates the need for additional ad blockers and promotes better quality advertising.”