Hundreds of thousands of euros flow from Estonia and other Baltic countries to the Russian propaganda industry every year. These funds assist in creating divisions in our local society and insulting our population.
Propastop has repeatedly written about advertisements of Estonian companies found in Russian media, which have reached those channels through the Google Display Network advertising brokerage platform.
This time, we investigated what is the financial contribution of local companies that helps to produce and disseminate anti-Estonian and anti-Western propaganda.
During March, we examined the ten most widely viewed Russian media channels in the Baltic nations (AIF, EADaily, GZ.ru, KP.ru, Lenta, Life, RBC, Rusvesna, Sputniknews, VZ.ru), which have a direct or mediated connection with the Kremlin and which use Google’s advertising agency to display ads on their websites. We have counted the number of spots reserved for ads, that is, how many ads appear on the homepage or next to an article.
Millions of display times
With the help of Similarweb, we identified the total number of visits to the selected ten propaganda sites per month, and with the help of Alexa Ranking, we found the percentage of readers from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Combining the data of two leading website statistics services, we calculated the number of visits to Russian information channels from the three Baltic countries. Multiplying the number of visits to each page by the number of ad locations on that page, we get the total number of times the ads are shown to readers in Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania for each selected website. For example, on the website Komsomolskaya Pravda, which is actively read from Estonia, ads are displayed to local readers a total of approximately 14,000,000 times a month.
580 000 euros per year
The cost of serving an ad varies, however when you purchased ads through the Google Display Network, the average cost per 1000 displays, or 1 cost per mille (CPM) was $2.80 USD in 2021. However, this price can also be $ 0.01 USD per thousand ads displayed.
In 2019, the Global Disinformation Index published a comprehensive study of the publication of advertisements on pages disseminating false information and conspiracy theories, using a very conservative approach and charging $ 0.70 USD per CPM for a thousand ads.
We decided to take a similar conservative approach and multiplied the number of ad displays for all ten Russian-related websites by $0.70 or 0.58 euro per 1000 displays.
According to this calculation, in 12 months, approximately 0.6 million euros a year will flow from the Baltic nations to these ten channels of the Russian propaganda industry, of which 58% come from Estonia, 24% from Latvia and 18% from Lithuania.
It is likely that the amounts transferred from the Baltic nations to Russian media is significantly higher, as only a small part of such websites and environments were under consideration.
We plan to write follow-up stories on this subject and open up how such problems have been tackled elsewhere in the world and what each person can do themselves as well as why it should be a concern for all of us