While France is the number two country in Europe for ownership of mobile devices, when it comes to mobile advertising it is way down in 16th place. Various cultural and technical barriers lie behind the reluctance of French advertisers to go the mobile route.
Although the ‘display’ ad market in France is currently worth an estimated €379 million, according to an IFOP (French Institute of Public Opinion) study entitled, ‘The French and Mobile Advertising’, commissioned by Jules Minvielle, founder and CEO of mobile advertising firm Numbate, only 10% of this is earned on smartphones and tablets. This is despite the fact that sales of mobile devices are forecast to reach 25.4 million in 2013 and that today these devices account for 28% of all online content searches. In fact, while there seem to be a whole host of reasons why the French mobile advertising market is so sluggish, there is evidence that it is the technical difficulty of measuring the audience that is proving the biggest drawback. French business culture basically dictates that any media channel must be able to show reliable, quantifiable figures before advertisers will embrace it enthusiastically.
Proof of performance required before adoption
“With mobile advertising you can’t do a Gross Rating Point calculation like they do in television,” explains Marina Coche, Director of Digital Purchasing at media company Aegis France, underlining: “The audience is highly fragmented and there’s no tracking at all, so it’s very hard to incorporate mobile into the media mix.” Nor, for the moment, can you take measurements following an advertising campaign to see just how effective it has been. Stéphane Barron, web strategy consultant for the French railway company SNCF’s online travel agency Voyage-Sncf.com, corroborates this assessment, pointing out: “Technical problems are holding firms back from purchasing space on mobile.” This being so it does not really make sense to use the same key performance indicators as for other media channels to justify the purchase of mobile space. It would be more logical to look at a measure of overall return on investment taking into account the potential synergies between mobile and other channels – QR codes on posters, a TV spot ‘shazam’ tool, and so on. That would enable potential advertisers to get a handle on their ROI across the board and would be more useful than trying to work out the sum total of ROI from the various distinct channels.
Creativity should be the key word for French providers and advertisers
Although it may not yet be possible to develop powerful marketing tools along the lines of those used in English-speaking world, ad providers and advertisers in France ought nevertheless to commit to one aspect: creativity. This starts with the format. Formats such as those produced by Numbate – e.g. Pop Corner, Duo Banner and Over Slide – are less intrusive and yet more visible. Advertisers are also interested in the option of adding ‘add to calendar’ functionality. However the real progress will be found in the combination of 4G and video. The advent of 4G – the next wave of high-speed mobile bandwidth – will allow more widespread use of more creative formats. Stéphane Barron underlines that the key ingredient is to enable a brand to “tell its story”. In addition, video advertising has the advantage of having one single format for displaying a mobile banner along the lines of Internet Protocol TV, which will help to keep development costs to a minimum. Video will therefore help to free visual display from its current narrow silos in the various distinct media and enable the ‘media at your fingertips’ device to play a full role in the advertising market.