17 VKontakte crucial updates in 2016

Year 2016 brought a lot of updates on VK.com. Since its founding 10 years ago, VK for the first time has changed its interface this year. Business and advertising tools have also received many essential updates. Just to make sure that advertisers and agencies don’t miss any of the latest features, I have prepared a list of the most important changes on VK.com during 2016.

1. Stories

Trend of disappearing photo and video messages is obvious, therefore, after Snapchat, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, VK has also introduced its own ‘Stories’. The user can publish photos or 12-sec videos. Stories are only available in VK mobile version.

2. Look-alike

Up to dozens of targeting parameters, VK has added similar audiences tool — look-alike. System selects VK users, which behave in the same way as those that have already visited your site and performed the target action, for example, made an order in the online store, downloaded a file or subscribed to a newsletter.

To create your look-alike audience, you can use data from your CRM system: contact information collected on website forms, or data collected through the retargeting code on the website. An important limitation: in the source group there must be at least 1000 people.

3. Market

Market section is a catalog of private product ads. Previously, only communities could place products, but now this section is available for regular users. In Market the user will first see the ads of his or her friends, and then the ads of friends of their friends. The user can configure search settings to see the ads of all people and communities on VK, search by name and description of the product, specify the category, price and region.

4. VK Live

VK now allows users to make live broadcasts and earn money with them. Viewers can support authors with virtual gifts, which authors can exchange for the money. Available on iOS.

5. New sizes of targeted ads

Banners that are shown on the left are increased:

  • 146 x 85 px for “Image and text” type
  • 146 x 165 px for “Large image” type

The text length has also increased:

  • Title — 33 characters (instead of 25)
  • Text — 70 characters (instead of 60)

Details about the VK ad formats you will find in my text, Guide to Vkontakte Advertising.

6. Single retargeting pixel

Now you no longer need to embed numerous pixels on the pages of your website. Instead, you only have to embed a single retargeting pixel on all pages. It will track target groups that you can configure for the selected characteristics directly in your advertising panel. For example, you can collect users who are interested in specific goods or services on the website, which ordered a specific product before, or did not purchase a product in the cart. Using the retargeting pixel you can show individual ads for each separate groups of users.

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You may create the retargeting pixel in the advertiser panel in the section Retargeting.

7. Audio ads

Audio ads became available on desktop version in 2016 and has been tested by some huge advertisers, including McDonald’s and Adidas. There is still no information about how long this test will take, and what are the conditions of using this format for small advertisers. The cost of audio ads will be about 350 RUB per 1000 of auditions, so it’s comparable to advertising on radio.

Ad plays after the end of a particular track. In the future VK plans to introduce the ability to link ads to specific songs.

8. Call-To-Action buttons

Button will increase the efficiency of VK’s promo posts and prompt the user to commit a particular action. Buttons depends on the objectives of the campaign:

  • promotion of community: Join, Send message
  • promotion of external websites: Go, Buy, Register
  • ads on mobile version: Call, Write, Send by e-mail.

9. Community cover image

VK has changed the appearance of communities, adding covers like on Facebook fanpages. Recommended size of the cover is 1590 x 400 px. You can add a cover in your community settings.

VK cover size — 1590 x 400 px

In the upper block you can have three tabs now: attached post, information about the community and the wiki menu (only in groups).

10. Money transfers between users

VK introduced money transfers between users. You can make a transfer in the chat, either on mobile app or on desktop version. Limits — from 100 to 75,000 rubles. The fee for a money transfer from Visa card — 1% of amount, minimum of 40 rubles.

11. Hidden posts

The same as “dark posts” on Facebook, using “hidden posts” on VK advertisers can create a variety of unique promotional posts that match the specific target group. Hidden posts are invisible for other members of the community. For more information on promo posts, please read my text here.

12. Livechat for websites

Livechat widget from which the user can send a message to the community from the website. It looks like a common VK dialog box, where the user can talk to administrators of the community. Widget will be useful to all companies that have contact form on their website. Now visitors don’t need to register or enter any contact details to ask a question. They just open livechat window and write you.

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13. vk.me short link — quick access to the chat

If you don’t need livechat on your website, you can now use short link that leads to the chat section — http://vk.me/USERNAME. When user clicks on a short link, it redirects him to VK and opens chat with your community.

And using special service https://vk.com/print you can create cute “labels” with a link or QR code that can be placed on your website or promotional materials.

14. Smart news feed

News feed algorithm now changes the order of posts, depending on users’ interests and behavior. Interesting and involving posts are shown higher.

Get some tips on how to create and publish content on VK’s smart news feed.

15. Complete post statistics

Now you can see separate sources of your post reach — organic, viral, ad and general. Organic reach includes only members of the community who saw the post without interacting with ads; viral reach shows the amount of users that saw the post, but they are not followers of this community; advertising reach is the number of users who saw the post through advertising; and finally general reach includes all of the above sources regarding the intersection of these target groups.

16. Top up via PayPal

Now you can top up your advertising budget also via PayPal. This feature is especially useful for foreign VK advertisers. Unfortunately, the invoicing is still available only in case of bank transfers.

17. Update of the wiki-markup

Wiki-markup appeared on VK a long time ago. This allows you to create within your community kind of a landing page or advanced menu with structured information, for example about your products or services. Examples of such menus: one and two.

Wiki markup is useful if you are going to interact with Russian customers mainly on VK, for example, if you do not have Russian version of the website, or its functionality does not allow you to create a detailed manual or product catalog. But If your goal is to attract users to a web page to make a purchase as quickly as possible, or make any conversion, this wiki-menu may be unnecessary.

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