Yandex Doubles Revenues, Claims Top Spot

Global "e-heavyweight" Lycos may be moving in on its turf but RuNet search engine and portal Yandex is feeling no pain.

Yandex said Monday that revenues nearly doubled in the first six months of the year over the same period last year, putting the company on track to hit its 2001 revenue target of $1.1 million.

While the company is still burning investors' money, it is slowing the burn rate and is close to self-sustainability, Yandex board members said last week.

New Gallup data show that the site's monthly audience now exceeds that of many Russian television and radio stations, a phenomenon that was first seen in the West several years ago, according to board member and Briton Jason Downes.

Downes said Yandex is now the top resource on the Russian Internet in terms of both traffic and also of audience.

Another board member, Ben Cole, an American who refers to himself as the "Grandfather of Yandex," emphasized, however, that the company's strategy was comparable to running a marathon as opposed to the 100-meter dash.

Yandex is also expanding into other spheres of e-business, officially launching last week a new online marketing service called Yandex Direct, which is billed as a cost-efficient demographically targeted ad service.

Yandex Direct is designed to cater to small businesses who have previously not utilized the Internet as a marketing tool, said Yandex general director Arkady Volozh.

Yandex Direct automatically selects ads for the Yandex homepage based on search terms that entered by the user.

If the user enters a search term that matches a key word for an ad, the advertisement pops up on the right side of the browser window.

The advertisements are unlike banners in that they consist purely of text and display a link to the advertiser's site.

As with banners, advertisers are charged a sliding rate, depending on how many times their ads are displayed online.

The minimum contract is only $10, and it costs just $20 for every 1,000 times an ad is displayed.