Every day, millions of web users are exposed to banner ads on the pages of Yandex’s sites. Advertisers on Yandex can opt to show their ads only to that part of the viewer audience that is potentially interested in seeing them, such as people of a certain age or gender. To enable advertisers to target their ads to a specific audience, Yandex uses its own proprietary behavior analytics technology called Crypta. This technology allows classification of web users based on their online behavior. Their behaviour just has to differ somehow.

How It Works

Crypta is based on Yandex’s own machine learning method, MatrixNet. It learns how to identify a particular audience segment by studying typical representatives’ internet behaviour. For a successful study, Crypta needs to analyse the behavior of at least 30,000 users – experiments have shown this is enough for a reliable result.
Yandex collects information about typical members in various segments from marketing agencies. They help us find users with particular socio-demographic characteristics: a particular age or gender, with the right level of income, education, habits and interests. For example, if Crypta needs to learn how to identify pet food purchasers, such people can be found through surveys. Of course, Yandex receives this information in anonymised form.
Crypta studies how members of particular groups behave online: which words they use in search queries, how many queries they submit per session, which sites they visit, what time of day or night they go online, and so on. It analyses about 300 factors characterising user behavior, and determines the significance of each one for specific audiences. The result is a formula according to which Crypta can determine whether a person belongs to a certain group. The formula is then tested on a new batch of data and, if necessary, is corrected.
Crypta analyses every internet user’s likelihood of belonging to a particular audience segment. It renews its analysis every day to keep up with changes in people’s interests. While some changes take time, such as growing into a new age group, others – like becoming a pet food purchaser – happen very quickly.


Yandex utilises Crypta in both search and banner advertising. For instance, with Crypta’s help, ads served by Yandex.Direct can be targeted exclusively at users who have recently shown interest in the advertised product (behavioural targeting).
Several different banner-targeting methods have been created on the basis of Crypta – socio-demographic targeting (by age and gender), or targeting of users who practically never watch television. Crypta is also employed in our look-alike targeting instrument, which allows advertisers to show their banners to people who are similar to existing customers.