As Europe continues to gain greater interest from digital publishers, a few key trends are coming into focus and some of the most important players in this area of the industry have graciously taken the time to pass along some actionable information that can be put to use in your own E.U. expansion, based on statistical data that covers a massive number of new customers.
“The recent trends in European traffic and user experience have been interesting, because we’re noticing more and more European users are leading the way toward mobile conversion, as they become much more willing to buy products on their smartphones than on a typical desktop computer,” said Ross of TrafficForce.com “A lot of this is due to the fact that debit cards in Europe are accepted more easily online and there is a much simpler way to buy certain products using direct billing to your phone bill.
As usual, once the market becomes a bit more saturated and the mobile carriers begin taking notice of the sudden growth in adult mobile services in their country, they will likely become much more strict with new regulations. -Joey Gabra of Affil4You
“The result is that E.U. traffic is becoming much more valuable. The average price of our European traffic is higher than ever, and in fact it has become much more valuable than North American traffic these days to many of our clients who are eager to get their hands on as much of it as they possibly can.”
Similar trend data was reported by other insiders who are witnessing a significant shift toward mobile devices.
“E.U. traffic trends are just like the rest of the world, quickly moving to more and more mobile” said Wizzo of JuicyAds.com “The E.U. has always been at the forefront of the mobile market, with many countries offering better billing options than North America, and I think we will continue to see mobile emerge as the primary traffic market in the near future.”
The simultaneous impact of rapidly emerging markets is also amplifying the value of E.U. traffic, thanks to technological advancements and national policy decisions that lean toward building mobile infrastructure or providing mobile devices with inexpensive access to the internet.
“We’re noticing exponential growth of our network in Europe,” said Ross of TrafficForce. “Right now our primary market is still the U.S., but the overall percentage of our European traffic has gone up considerably in the past six months and we expect this trend to continue as new consumers find more and more stuff to suit their needs. It’s one of the main reasons we have been translating our sites into many additional languages, with an eye toward accommodating our visitors more easily by allowing everyone to browse in their own native tongue.”
On the subject of multilingual translation, few people are in a better position to view the E.U. marketplace than Colin of TranslationsXXX.com, whose company provides translations of content into more than 150 languages for major clients servicing E.U. traffic.
“Our clients have consistently reported that their multilingual websites bring in greatly increased traffic volume, which makes sense now that Google is putting a premium on metrics like high time on site, low bounce rates and so on,” said Colin. “With more than 1.4 billion people accessing the Internet in a language other than English, and many of them doing so from countries within the E.U., it stands to reason that presenting content and an interface matched to the native tongue of the audience is a worthwhile endeavor. Even more importantly, studies have consistently shown that offers made at the point of sale using the native language of a visitor result in substantially improved conversion ratios as well. So, it’s not just about traffic trends, it’s also about revenue and retention all rolled into one.”
When asked to note the differences between the North American and E.U. markets, Wizzo of JuicyAds explained, “I think they are getting more similar in that they are all moving more to mobile, with less restrictions on bandwidth, but the E.U. is pulling away because of their advancement of options to bill mobile customers while U.S. carriers continue to make it very tough.”
E.U. markets permit fully integrated cardless mobile billing, but there are a litany of regulations in place merchants must comply with, and the fact that each country or carrier customizes those requirements in their own way makes it an enormous barrier of entry for site owners. Many choose instead to rely on the expertise of Affil4You.com to provide compliant E.U. mobile services as a trusted traffic partner, and Joey Gabra of Affil4You offered his own perspective on the trends of the E.U. mobile market specifically.
“There are constant changes in traffic trends within the E.U. and we have noticed that user behavior may vary based on the simple matter of mobile carrier regulations. In some cases an individual carrier can dictate trends which fluctuate dramatically almost every two to three months.”
Right now traffic is being impacted by an initiative among E.U. mobile carriers to crack down on non-compliant services, shifting traffic from them toward services that continually adhere to the ever-changing regulations they implement.
“We saw it happen in Germany last year and it’s happening now in other major E.U. countries like France, Italy and Spain,” Gabra explained. “Thankfully we have made our mark over the past 10 years in the French market, where we have established enough presence and stability with the mobile carriers that we don’t feel the impact of these regulation changes as much our competitors who might be a bit newer to the market.”
Restrictions often go much deeper than billing options alone. In fact recent regulations consist of changes to the age verification process, changes to the maturity level of the content a provider is allowed to show customers regardless of their age, and with a broad U.K. content filtering scheme on the horizon that would require computer users to opt-in to see adult content, it stands to reason even more mobile regulation is likely on its way as well.
As webmasters are already aware, when one door closes another often opens, and the slack of any restricted content in the U.K. may quickly be taken up by the growth of emerging markets.
“Another interesting trend we have been noticing is that many of the smaller Eastern European countries are taking a more significant place in the mobile market,” Gabra explained. “I think this may have something to do with the fact that many of these countries are still fairly untapped, which also means that they have not yet been impacted by any heavy regulations brought down by the mobile carriers. This is always a good thing for companies like mine and our affiliates who look to monetize traffic in those countries, because we have more flexibility in these new markets and can quickly capitalize on the lack of unnecessary regulations. However, as usual, once the market becomes a bit more saturated and the mobile carriers begin taking notice of the sudden growth in adult mobile services in their country, they will likely become much more strict with new regulations. It can present quite a challenge for companies like mine, but it’s our job to make sure we overcome those challenges by coming up with creative strategic solutions to efficiently and effectively keep the money coming in for us and our affiliates.”
Perhaps the biggest mistake site owners make when considering the E.U. market is that they try to think of it as a single entity, much the way many view states in the U.S. In fact, that simply isn’t a good description of reality.
“European traffic has always been an important part of the volume of impressions and revenues paid to our publishers,” said Geoffrey Bonnechère, an executive at ExoClick.com. “Contrary to the U.S. framework, Europe cannot be considered as a whole. Every country has its particularities in terms of language and surfing habits (sites visited, preferred practices, best niches, etc.). Billing methods, solvency and mobile carrier regulations are also very different from one country to another.
‘Regulations have a deep impact on the business attraction of each country. In some countries mobile carriers are more permissive and that has direct consequences for the demand for mobile traffic among advertisers. As a couple examples, we can mention Spain and Italy where mobile traffic is now much more profitable than desktop traffic.”
“There used to be a huge gap dividing Western Europe and Eastern Europe in terms of traffic value” Bonnechère continued. “This gap is being reduced, thanks to the integration of new countries to the E.U., and the fact that several eastern European economies are now growing faster than their western big brothers. We have also noticed growing demand for desktop and mobile traffic from ‘new’ countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia thanks to expansion of their internet access. Globally speaking, European countries seem less saturated than the US market and many revenue streams that have become stale in the US are still new in Europe, which gives businesses, marketers and affiliates more opportunities to grow.”