This guide will deal with the best technics to advertise on Search Engine (SE) such as Google, Yahoo or Bing when you`re trying to have a French core target. We are going to analyze at the differences that can exist between French SEM markets and foreign ones. This short report purpose is to help companies have a first look at the subtleties of the French standards when it comes to creating an efficient digital advertising campaign.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of UCSD. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. They should not be utilized in real-world analytic products as they are based only on very limited and dated open source information.
1/ French advertising culture
Before going online, it`s important to understand the way advertising is elaborated and displayed in France on old formats such as Billboards or TV.
At first glance, the first assumption that could be made about Frenches` tastes and habits in terms of lifestyle is that they love everything that is refined and stylish. Indeed, it could be obvious for anyone since it’s usually a stereotype but I can tell you that it’s definitely true, especially if it’s about what fall into the following categories: Foods, Wines, Cosmetics or Clothes.
Let`s illustrate this point with concrete examples:
This poster advertising is part of one of the most successful campaign ever done by Louis Vuitton in France.
If we literally translate what is written on this ad into English it means: “Louis Vuitton, an invitation to travel”. It emphasizes the fact that the product alone is part of a mystery that will bring you to an unknown location.
Louis Vuitton, Invitation au Voyage Campaign, 2012
This concept is directly inspired by the “Disruption” strategy invented in France by TBWA. The aim of this strategy is to break the code of an established policy in a specific domain; this advertising campaign just redefined the concept of poster advertising itself by minimizing the information on purpose. Here, we just have the name of the brand that is visible what lets people imagining the meaning of it as opposed to the Japanese way which is much more informative.
This practice evolved more and more on the long run until a few years ago when it became the standards in France in all kinds of industry such as mass retailing, cosmetics, alcohol or fashion.
As for example you will find here some poster advertisings that illustrate perfectly this point.
Absolut Ad 2016
Even if different types of advertising still exist, uncluttered ads are the most spread ones in France and the trend is far from vanishing.
Other kinds of advertising (not disruption based) depends directly of products sold. As for examples if you`re trying to sell a ready-to-eat meal even if disruption has already been used for that kind of products the current trend is to use price emphasized ads.
2/ French Digital Advertising Market
The French advertising market is one of the biggest in Europe (3rd behind UK and Germany). A lot of powerful advertising groups are based in France such as the Publicis Groupe (Turnover of €9.6 Billion in 2015) or JCDecaux (3.4 €Billion in 2016). French is also the language spoken by a lot of people outside of France. As for example in Canada (Quebec), Africa (Nigeria, Algeria…) or others.
Moreover the presence of some of the biggest international groups retailing all around the world (LVMH, Channel, L’Oréal…) make advertising even more important in France when you know that all decisions for the communication policy are taken in their France based headquarters.
Starting from that point it`s logical to have one of the most active market always at the leading-edge of new methods and concepts when it comes to advertising. Something we`d like to point out is that trend is all the more true for the Online advertising market since it`s increasing at an exponential rate.
France just spent €4.2 Billion in 2015 in online advertising
Even if it doesn`t seem to be a lot, it means that between the 2014 and 2015 the online advertising market has grown by more than 13% in France.
We also have to keep an eye on some variables we must take into account in order to understand who we are advertising at when we`re relying on an online marketing strategy. As for example the share of connected people without any degree was 44% in 2014 what is far away from the 97 % of the higher education degrees holders (Source: Conseil general de l`economie).
Last but not least, let`s have a look on how is evolving the repartition of the digital advertising expenses in France.
Although everyone is always speaking about the importance of social media in digital marketing we mustn’t forget the importance of other media that can weight much more in the balance than what we could think in a first glance.
2017 to 2021 data are all forecasts
In average social media represent 9% of the total digital advertising expenses in France, moreover, even if the pure amount of money spent is increasing each year it does it proportionally to the total what results in an overall stability of the weighted expenses.
As soon as you look at the graph you understand the importance of emphasizing an efficient Search Engine Optimization strategy since it represents up to 48% in 2015 to start to slightly decrease afterwards on the following years because of the rise of Video advertising shares.
To sum up, an efficient digital marketing strategy in France must include at least SEO and Video advertising in order to do a long-term bet, especially if your budget is relatively low.
Nevertheless, we recommend you strongly to add social media to your strategy since you could suffer from a lack of competitiveness if you don`t use them and not be able to face competitors.
If you have extra funds, try to use also classifieds advertising to your assets for a more complete strategy but don`t forget that beyond money it will cost you also time. Banners are not very efficient in France, people find them invasive and are often assimilated as Spam.
Now that we have understood the cultural characteristics of the French advertising market we can deal with the following issue: How can I optimize and develop a SEM & SNS strategy in France in 2017?
What Search Engine in France?
First we need to look at the different resources we must rely on in order to perform well. Let`s have a look on the different search engine used in France at the end of 2014:
As in almost all the European countries, unsurprisingly Google is the absolute leader with more than 93% of the shares.
Even if Yahoo and Bing are still used, they are slowly losing more and more market shares for years and are closed from getting out of this country.
Then, it`s clear that if you target France for a SEO campaign, using other search engine than Google would be just a loss of time.
Moreover, according to a survey done by Eurostat in 2016, 6.6% of the total population of France are foreign people. Even if it`s a melting pot including various nationalities, you can try to optimize the number of people reached through your SEO campaign by including a few ads in English. By doing so you will slightly increase the potential market shares covered by your ads.
What comes next logically is another important insight we have to analyze: The Social Media utilization habits of French people.
When it comes to Social Media, French people are generally keen on Facebook whose the Messenger app is used as a main way to communicate with others (in addition to classical text message). YouTube must also be highly considerated.
Twitter and Instagram even if not as used as the first ones are gaining market shares each year what makes them even more interesting.
Source: Statista 2014
But it would be genuine to think that this chart alone let us understood the full potential of the French SM market for a company who wants to advertise in France. The time spent per SM chart gives us more data to complete the analysis. It makes us able to have an idea of the “weight” of each social media in the daily life of french people.
Having in mind that our aim is to show as many ads as possible to our core target, it seems defitinely that Facebook and YouTube are social networks we can use for as strategic plateforms.
Nevertheless, we have to keep in mind that even if the time spent per day on YouTube is the highest among all SM, the timeframe when we can display ads is lower than others Social Media. Indeed we have generally one opportunity at the beginning of each video to run an ad even though the CTR is very low as opposed to other SM where opportunities are numerosous and the CTR is generally higher.
In a nutshell, although YouTube is a Media we can perform admirably on, a main SNS strategy should include it but not making the core of it.
So what do we do ?
To sum up, in France your digital marketing strategy must include Google as a search engine and Facebook as a social network. Everything that comes in addition to it is a plus that genereally perform relatively well combined with the two mentionned above.
Don`t forget to consider the nature of your product before promoting on social media. If your business is all about visual experiences it will be clever to associate it with Instagram mainly because of its nature. As for example, in France all clothes start-ups use Instagram combined with Facebook together in order to create an exponential followers growth as it is massively shared on both of the social networks.
3/ How to create ads that fit the French market?
In order to create an efficient SEO campaign in French you must rely on all the cultural aspects that have been listed and explained before. After reading them all, you can definitely consider the followings:
- Simple and uncluttered visual ads on Display.
- Crazy about disruption when it comes to luxury brands or high price products. If you`re selling high end goods then aim for original ads that can be really catchy. For text ads, try to give them a bit of cultural Japanese touch. It will make them even more relevant afterwards.
- Brand image is essential for everything linked to fashion, luxe and more generally conspicuous consumption. In France it`s all about perception and brand recognition.
- They need direct information to understand clearly what they buy; unclear or confused information just lead to poor CTR as the interest will drop.
- Begging for clicks or action is not efficient, try to avoid “book now” or others except if they are linked to a time-bounded promotion. Don`t try to trick people, they will just realize as for example that your ad is disinformation and will never deal with your website again. So it`s even more important to don`t forget to pause old promo ads!
To conclude let’s never forget that 1 image worth 1000 words. So here some 8000 words value presentation to integrate those concepts even better!