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For several years now, promoting your brand or products on Telegram channels has been a common practice in the country. Telegram is Ethiopia’s most used messaging platform, and businesses of all sizes, from MSMEs to large corporations, leverage Telegram channels to reach their audience.

Channel owners set prices (often per post) based on their channels’ average estimated viewership or subscriber count.

In my experience working in digital marketing for the past four years, I’ve negotiated with numerous channel owners based on their estimated average views to run campaigns of varying success.

Akofada (DFS Ethiopia)

Most channel owners base their prices on subscriber count instead of average views, which is one of the biggest problems during the negotiation stage. Yet even then, there’s no guarantee they’ll promote your content on the agreed-upon terms, and it often relies solely on their reputation, as it’s not commonplace to have a signed agreement just to promote posts on Telegram.

Thankfully, Telegram’s new ad platform is offering an alternative and we at Shega Brand Studio gave it a try. 

Getting started

Broadcast channels on Telegram generate one trillion views every month. Telegram, leveraging this, lets channel owners with more than 1,000 subscribers send sponsored messages right to their audience.

With this tool, digital marketers and businesses can manage their ads and budgets, choose where their ads will be displayed, and monitor their performance.

In addition, Telegram has also started allowing channel owners to receive financial rewards from the ad revenue. Channel owners will start receiving 50% of all revenue that the company makes from displaying ads in their channels. Telegram joins the likes of YouTube and X (formerly Twitter), both of which offer ad revenue sharing with users.

But here’s the bad news. Paying for ads on platforms like Facebook already had its challenges in Ethiopia due to limited access to foreign currency and online payment methods. Telegram Ads introduces another set of difficulties, as payments are settled via cryptocurrency.

Buying the native coin for Telegram ads can be a complicated, multi-step process. First, you’ll need to create a wallet and purchase the coin using your preferred currency. Then, you have two options: transfer the coin to Tonspace, a wallet allowing direct access to the TON blockchain within Telegram, or use Tonkeeper, an external self-custody wallet.

Both serve the same purpose, which is to let you store and transfer Ton coin to Fragment, the ad management platform responsible for displaying your ads in public broadcast Telegram channels.

Getting started with Telegram Ads requires an initial transfer of at least 20 Toncoin to Fragment, which translates to roughly $150 at the current exchange rate. This upfront cost might be a hurdle for smaller businesses. However, compared to Meta Ads, which many companies in Addis already budget for and find cost-effective, the minimum spend required by telegram is not that out of reach for a lot of businesses already active on the platform.

Ad setup process 

To begin creating your ad, go to your Telegram Ads account dashboard and click the “Create Ad” button. Start by entering a title and preview text for your ad. The preview text should be an engaging 200-character snippet to catch users’ attention. Then provide the URL or bot username that people will be directed to when they click on the ad.

Next, set your budget and payment details. Choose a daily spending amount and payment method. Select the duration of your campaign; you can run it indefinitely or pick a start and end date. Refine your targeting by specifying locations, languages, and interests, or by targeting Telegram channels directly. Under scheduling, opt to run your ad all day or only during certain hours. Optionally, add an internal campaign ID for tracking. Finally, preview your ad and click “Publish” to launch it on the Telegram network.

This will activate your boosted post and budget. You can then monitor performance using the budget, statistics, and information tabs. Make adjustments by pausing, deleting, or duplicating the ad from the actions menu as needed.

There are advantages and disadvantages to running telegram ads as compared to running ads on other platforms, such as Meta. Let’s look at the pros and cons:


  1. Hyper-focused Targeting

During my test ad run, one of the things that struck a chord with me was the option to target specific channels. Unlike Meta, where ads can appear in front of uninterested audiences that unintentionally interact with posts that loosely match your niche, Telegram lets you target specific demographics within curated and contained public channels. Imagine you’re a bank with a new financial product. You can target your competitor’s channel directly, reaching people already interested in similar services. This focus ensures your message reaches the right eye, maximizing impact.

2. Quality Over Quantity

Telegram Ads also prioritize quality engagement over mass impressions. You can set daily view caps per user, preventing ad fatigue. This means your message is seen by more unique individuals, sparking genuine interest rather than just fleeting glances. It’s like having a focused conversation instead of shouting in a crowded room.

3. Clean Audience, Better Value

Another benefit that impressed me is Telegram’s commitment to a clean audience. Unlike some platforms with inflated numbers, Telegram guarantees your ads reach real people through official channels. This translates to a better return on your ad spend. You’re not paying for empty clicks or bot views.

4. Channel Growth Strategies

While promoting a post within Telegram to grow your channel is an option, I found alternative strategies more effective, like cross-promotion or collaborating with channel owners directly. However, Telegram Ads shine when it comes to brand awareness campaigns. By targeting competitor channels with daily view caps, you can ensure your product or service is seen by a maximum number of unique, relevant users.

5. Direct Competitor Advantage

What truly sets Telegram Ads apart is the ability to directly promote your product or service on your competitor’s channel. This is a powerful tool for reaching a highly relevant audience that is already familiar with similar offerings. It gives you a chance to showcase your unique value proposition and potentially convert those users.


  1. The setup process for Telegram ads can be somewhat involved for first-time users, especially those without experience creating or managing cryptocurrency budgets. Navigating the payment and targeting options requires learning the interface.
  2. Advertisers must purchase ads using Toncoin, the cryptocurrency native to the Telegram blockchain. Like all digital currencies, Toncoin’s value can fluctuate; in the week it took to have our test ad approved, its price dropped approximately 7%, shrinking our effective budget.
  3. Ad review times on Telegram can be lengthy if you are bidding very low daily spend amounts per mile (CPM), the price for one thousand views of your ad. We initially set a CPM of 0.10 Toncoin but had to increase it to 0.40 Toncoin before our ad was swiftly approved, likely due to operating at the lower end of their review thresholds. Higher budgets may correspond to a faster turnaround.

Final thoughts 

Overall, experimenting with Telegram Ads has been an insightful experience. While the setup process takes some getting used to and is confusing, especially for people inexperienced in the crypto space, I’m impressed by the platform’s targeting capabilities. Being able to reach qualified audiences directly within curated channels sets Telegram apart from other social ad platforms.

In our test campaign, the ability to cap daily user views and avoid ad fatigue led to strong engagement metrics. Though the initial currency investment posed a hurdle, Telegram Ads could be very cost-effective for the right campaigns. Directly promoting to competitor networks opens unique opportunities to capture relevant eyeballs. Some kinks, like review delays, still exist. However, the foundations of Telegram’s approach point to effective advertising solutions, especially as the platform continues to evolve.

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Dagmawi Demeke is a Digital Marketing Manager at Shega Brand Studio.