Overview of the French Search Market
We know it; in Search, it is essential to think locally for a global campaign to be successful. Every market is different and has its own specifics, and understanding them is key in order to maximize performance and conversion. In this article, I thought it would be interesting to look at my native market, France, after having spent more than 10 years in the search sector there.
A big and fast growing search market
Second economy in Europe, France also has the third biggest online population just behind the UK and Germany, but an Internet growth of 425% vs 230% in UK and 170% in Germany. Mobile is also extremely strong in France, with a penetration rate of 109%, and 58 minutes spent using mobile Internet every day. As in most countries in Europe, Google is the most important search engine in France by a rather significant margin, being used by more than 95% of the online population (Source: Internet and Search Engine Usage by Country) – and some other search engines, such as Yahoo/Bing or even the new Qwant, complete the list.
Challenges of the French market in search
Because the French search marketing sector is growing fast, to be successful it is absolutely critical to be aware of some specific cultural aspects.
From an editorial point of view, the first thing to take into account is that French words are, on average, 25% longer than their English equivalents, which makes it challenging to write search ads that fit into the Google AdWords character limit compared to the English language (limit of 70 characters in search ad copies). Indeed, many of the most common words are longer in French. The punctuation rules are also different: for instance, there is a space before exclamation or question marks or a space before and after “:” in French but not in English.
- Buy now! (8 characters) => “Achetez maintenant !” (20 characters)
- Free download! (15 characters) => Téléchargement gratuit ! (24 characters)
- Subscribe to Creative Cloud today! (35 characters) => Abonnez-vous a Creative Cloud aujourd’hui ! (43 characters)
Specific French culture
Forty-three percent of the French people make most of their searches in French, and 93% of them prefer French websites. It is therefore imperative to translate thoroughly every campaign – studies have shown that the French are very sensitive to grammatical mistakes in ads, so an approximate translation isn’t an option. And avoid a “word by word”translation and translate in context.
Then, you have to adapt the messaging to the formal grammatical mode. To simplify, there are two ways to translate “you” in French. “Tu” is more used to communicate with a young audience. “Vous” is more appropriate for most messaging and is seen as more polite and respectful. But, have a look at the graph below for more details!
Image source: Los Angeles Times
What about you? Do you have any tips in order for your search campaigns to perform well in France? Do not hesitate to share your ideas in the comments, and feel free to continue the conversation on Twitter @gblecon