Having recently introduced SMS payments for premium features, the leading Russian social networking site, Odnoklassniki.ru, reportedly tested contextual advertisement services from Google AdSense and Yandex.Direct. The contextual ads brought in $0.3 million revenues to the site in Q1 2008. Apparently, it was not enough.
Begun, which Google recently failed to acquire for $140 million, has emerged as a new provider of context ads service to Odnoklassniki.ru. This week, Begun signed an agreement to power contextual advertisements on Odnoklassniki.ru, saying it will use behavioral targeting to tune ads to user preferences.
Founded in 2002, Begun has reached a weekly audience of 26.8 million Internet users in Russia and its neigboring countries in October. The number of sites that use Begun context ads has increased to 223,000, up 29% from July 2008. Alexey Basov, General Director of Begun, said that a recent drop of online publisher revenues from media (banner) ads helped to expand Begun’s reach.
Launched in March 2006, Odnoklassniki.ru (“Classmates” in Russian) has more than 25 million registered accounts and 6 million daily users. Odnoklassniki.ru is expected to generate revenues of $25 million in 2008.
Odnoklassniki.ru, which is led by newly-hired CEO Nikita Sherman, is majority owned by the leading Russian internet investor Digital Sky Technologies (DST) and its affiliates. It’s revealed this week that i-CD Publishing claimed ownership of the Odnoklassniki.ru’s business from its founder and others.