Promotion of the Telegram channel (gray theme)

Product of promotion:
Telegram channel of the media about DarkNet (EU)

Project features:
DarkNet topics are considered “gray” by advertising systems. That is, it violates the rules of virtually any account, which makes it difficult to promote.

However, in our opinion, there should be some differentiation in this case. For example, the resource we advertised in this case had absolutely no illegal content.
That’s why we agreed to work with them.
At the same time, we still understood that it would not be possible to advertise the Telegram channel directly, so we prepared 3 padding sites before the start of the campaigns.

The advertising traffic was to go to the pads, and then through a link (on the button) to the channel or a specific channel post.
Additionally, the placeholder sites contained announcements with links to the latest materials on the media outlet’s website.

On the one hand, this definitely reduced the conversion rate of the transition to Telegram. The presence of other links defocuses the visitor’s attention.
But at the same time, it also helped to avoid blocking advertising accounts due to a link to a channel that could be perceived as violating the rules.
However, there were still some blockages. But more on that later.
Google Analytics was set up on each pad site. The main conversion was set to be the transition to the Telegram channel.

Obviously, it’s technically impossible to designate a subscription to the channel as a conversion.
For each of the three padding sites, we used separate Google Accounts and Meta ads.
The goals of the advertising campaigns were marked as the transition to the Telegram channel (in Meta accounts using a pixel).
Another advantage of using several “pads” was the ability to test campaigns with different settings simultaneously.

This made it possible to estimate the growth of the channel’s subscribers from each campaign and the cost of a new subscriber.
The first stage of promotion was testing the chosen promotion model.
It was necessary to determine the most suitable advertising settings in terms of conversion.
It was equally important to find the best option for a padding site, the use of which would minimize the possibility of blocking advertising accounts.

Project results:
In the course of hypothesis testing, 5 more variants were added to the three starting pad sites.

Later, we determined that from a security perspective, the best option is to place a link to a channel post with the most neutral content on the pads.
Although this, of course, did not guarantee long-term operation without blocking.
Placing only a link to the Telegram channel on the pad, of course, gives a better conversion rate, but also leads to a faster blocking of the account.
Transitions from “pads” to the main site (media) reduces the conversion from general traffic to conversions to the channel, but in the future it gives more quality traffic.

The site itself also has a link to the Telegram channel: in the header and footer of the site, as well as at the end of each article.

Users who first went to the site and then to the channel became subscribers three times more often than those who immediately went to the channel from advertising.
The average conversion rate to the channel was 79.5%. Conversion to subscription from such traffic averaged 20%.
In general, the promotion model was recognized as quite effective and was further scaled up.