Mail.Ru Group accepts Bitcoin payments for ads, new opportunities for blockchain in advertising

Tuesday 13 March 2018 00:01 CET | News

Mail.Ru Group, an LSE-listed Russian Internet company, has started accepting Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash on its ad platform myTarget.

The company’s properties include two of Russia’s biggest social networks Vkontakte (VK) and Onoklassniki (OK) as well as two dozens of online resources related to the and portals.

In January, according to Mediascope/TNS, the total audience of these properties exceeded 51 million desktop users aged 12-64 across Russia (not taking into account mobile-only users and users from outside Russia).

The move also affects MyTarget’s ad network, allowing even publishers who already signed up with this network to get paid in cryptocurrency, said the group.

In 2017, Mail.Ru Group’s advertising revenues amounted to around USD 412 million, up 28.9% from 2016.

The Russian group is partnering with BitPay, a global bitcoin payment processor, to convert cryptocurrencies into cash. For the moment, Mail.Ru Group will not accept other cryptocurrencies, such as ethers, “because BitPay doesn’t process them,” the group’s press service told “But BitPay will take the exposure.”

The birth of a market

Mail.Ru Group’s decision to accept cryptocurrencies may have several repercussions in the advertising industry.
AB-Chain, a startup involved in the field, has found that this new market could reach anything between USD 16 and USD 32 billion globally by 2021 — which would account for a large fraction of total global digital advertising expenditures, USD 375 billion that same year according to eMarketer’s predictions.

AB-Chain’s analysts based their calculations on the amounts already or expectedly raised by startups through ICOs; then they tried to estimate how much of this money would go to digital advertising, having studied the post ICO plans of some 30 companies, and extrapolating from them.

Russian startups in the running

AB-Chain launched its ad network with crypto payments months before Mail.Ru Group’s announcement. But it is not the only Russian startup operating at the intersection of blockchain, cryptocurrency and advertising.

Bitclave, which claims to have raised the equivalent of USD 25 million in an ICO in November last year (see EWDN’s regional ICO report), is building what it calls “an anti-Google search engine where all money goes directly to users.”

The BitClave Active Search Ecosystem is intended for customers to “control their identity, decide who has access to their data, and get remunerated in tokens each time their data will be used for marketing purposes.”

Another Russian startup in this field is mytime (EWDN’s story), a platform designed to reward online buyers of services for their time. For example, a video game aficionado may receive tokens for every minute of online fun, while a taxi passenger may get these tokens from the taxi company based on the time he spent on the roa. Meanwhile, service partners will be able to earn tokens by attracting loyal users to the platform, says mytime.

mytime’s concept is very close to that of Basic Attention Token (BAT), a US startup which raised the equivalent of USD 36 million in less than a minute in May 2017.

The story is brought to our readers following a syndication agreement with our friends at East-West Digital News (, the leading publication on Russian digital industries. The full article can be read on

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Keywords: Mail.Ru Group, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, cryptocurrencies, blockchain in advertising, Russia, ICO, crypto advertising
Categories: Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies | Cryptocurrencies
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies