The Old World is a New Surprise
Europe is really a surprise when regarding online habits: according to one of the last ComScore reports, published on march 2013, the continent keeps growing in numbers of usage in areas like Smartphone penetration, broadband and consumer digital services like video consumption — part of ComScore’s ongoing Digital Future In Focus series of annual reports covering different geographical markets. In all, the online audience across the region, covering 18 continues, to creep up and at the end of 2012 was 408.3 million users, with Russia the biggest market at 61.3 million; and mobile users in the “EU5″ — the top-five markets of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK — are now up to 241 million.
What makes it so surprising is that we are talking about different language groups and different cultures of usage. But it makes it very clear what the centers of gravity are in the tech world. One of the main issues about European usage though, as posted in this blog before, is the engagement: although Europe’s 408 million users are impressive, we are not talking most engaged users. Asia Pacific continues to retain its crown as the single-biggest region for online consumers with 637 million users — a natural consequence, perhaps, of the fact that it also has the biggest population. On the other hand, when it comes to usage, although North America is not the biggest in terms of the online population — its online consumers are now at 215 million, or 16% of the world’s online population, compared to 66% in 1996 — its audience remains the most digital-friendly, with the average consumer spending 42.8 hours per month online. The fact that it’s a more mature and more receptive market are the main reasons why consumers in countries like the U.S. continue to be disproportionately influential.
The French Charm
But coming back to the old world, we should keep our eyes wide open: specially to the “EU5” – the top-five countries already mentioned. As we already have talked about Germany, let’s now move to the second and equally promising one: France. Recent data show that the French market will dominate European online video revenues, as we can see a growth of over 45% only in 2012 according to market researcher's GfK and NPA. The French growth in online video was driven by Smartphones, tablets and connected TVs, while the PC lost ground. Regarding online video advertising, stats are also very optimistic. The first quarter of 2013 was enough to see a clear raise, driven basically for two main reasons: the exploding growth of the online video ad format and the rise of the RTB buying model.
What is so great and differentiates France from the rest of Europe are its online habits. Besides being charming, French people have their own way of consuming digital information (actually French people have their own of doing everything else). French are content-oriented; French are patriots (still); French like to share; French like comfort. Translating all this information: in online video, YouTube continues to be the leader by a very wide margin in Europe, with minutes per viewer in seven markets — Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, Turkey, UK — in the multiple hundreds, compared to double-digits for other providers (Turkey is an exception, where Facebook.com is making slightly more headway). Immediately behind it comes the local based site Dailymotion, what solves the question of patriotism and content. By the way, the only market where Dailymotion makes a showing is in its home country of France.
Both mobile and tablet video views spike early in the morning, as people prepare for their day and commute to work. Desktop video viewing rises during working hours. People watch more online video on tablets and phones as the day gets later. Put on top of all these factors a dramatic change in the regulations in the past five years, that helped to boost the consumption of video online in general in the whole European territory, but specifically in the UK and France, helping to create a very competitive and growing market.
Taking all this information and adding the undeniable French charm, we can say we have a market ready to be explored in the full sense of the word: the content-driven audience that will dictate the next trends of online video advertising, the local approach that will allow big corporations to actuate according to the target they aim, the sharing mentality that will promote the social video to higher levels and the numbers that always speak by themselves. Voila!