Non-budget marketing

Kommersant’s note dated May 27 about the growing costs of government agencies on advertising in foreign social networks, based on estimates by the Association of Communication Agencies of Russia (AKAR), few of the defendants wanted to comment on before publication. But after that the activity surpassed all expectations. Ministries and state-owned companies rushed to refute the allegedly overestimated estimates of the current market meter.

Based on his estimates, in 2020 government agencies and state corporations spent 12% more on advertising in social networks than a year earlier, in general – about 4 billion rubles. Interlocutors from a number of ministries and departments who were included in the study tried to actively assure that they did not spend that kind of money, and most of the actions to promote in social networks, which could be costly, come from full-time employees.

Most of the questions in this situation were caused by the position of AKAR itself, which literally “changed shoes on the go”. In the final version of the report, which appeared after the release of the note, many of the data that appeared there the day before were simply not there.

It suddenly became clear that “not for all purchases it is possible to find out the final, not the maximum price or analyze the breakdown of advertising budgets for specific channels.” With regard to the Foreign Ministry (the numbers disappeared), it turned out that the calculations were generally “hypothetical”.

But the reaction of government agencies looked, to put it mildly, excessive: in the end, 4 billion rubles is an absolutely meager amount in comparison with the entire advertising market (473 billion rubles in 2020, according to estimates, however, by the same AKAR) and even so more with government spending as a whole in the same year at 42 trillion rubles. There is nothing wrong with government spending on advertising. Take, for example, the Ministry of Health: against the backdrop of a pandemic, it is quite natural that it wants to more actively reach out to citizens, and it does not matter whose social networks these citizens prefer.

Participants in the advertising market see several reasons for this noise, in fact, out of nothing. First, they say, government agencies can resort to “not the best practices” up to the creation of bots. It is clear that you cannot proudly report on such cases. Another reason is that government spending is a painful topic in principle, because an inexperienced taxpayer loves to count this money, who can easily be outraged by the deduction of funds from American Facebook. And, of course, one of the fresh arguments in favor of closing such items of expenditure was the recent bill on the “landing” of foreign IT companies, where as a measure of influence there is a ban on government agencies from placing advertisements on violating platforms. Meanwhile, the alternatives, as in any import substitution that has set the teeth on edge, does not always exist.