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Different PPC habits of the FIGS

By Josian Phillips, 

Pay-per-click (PPC or Adwords) advertising is an effective marketing tool used around the world. Launching international PPC campaigns can be an extremely involved process, where it’s not only important to translate correctly, but also to apply local knowledge – that’s called localisation – so that those nuances are captured.

France, Italy, Germany and Spain – collectively known as the FIGS – are some of Europe’s biggest economies. To successfully tap into them with PPC, a blanket approach simply wouldn’t work, as each has very distinct online shopping habits for which your campaigns should be adapted. From payments to dialect, here’s a brief rundown:


Online shopping peaks on Wednesdays in France, as some primary schools shut in the afternoons and parents are at home looking after their children. The French use mobile devices for shopping most commonly between 6-7pm, however approximately 80 per cent prefer to use desktop PCs over any other device.

When writing ad copy, accents should be incorporated, and bids and keyword research should cover all variants of a word – with and without the accents. Writers need to bear language expansion in mind, as French phrases typically take up more space than English, 15-20 per cent more. Although recent changes in character limits by Google will help to some degree.

The French make fewer searches, which results in a lower cost-per-click (64 per cent lower than the US average, according to WordStream).


Though the smallest FIGS economy (due, apparently, because of the lack of retailers with an online presence), online sales are growing at a fast rate in Italy. Digital ad spend is expected to increase by nine per cent in the next three years, eMarketer says. Their habits are unique, though; Italians like a cash-on-delivery payment system, rather than online (they hold just 1.2 payment cards per person). They make more (five) return visits than most other countries before deciding to buy and use their cart like a wish list, adding things they’d like, then removing them at checkout.

It’s a cautious and traditional market. That said, although Italians don’t spend much online, when they do, they prefer making their purchases on smartphones and tablets.


To beat the ‘back-to-work blues’, Germans most commonly shop online on Mondays. Germany is the eighth biggest market in terms of retail sales, and its internet shoppers are fairly formal and careful – free returns are legal requirements and a fifth will read the terms and conditions before clicking ‘buy’. They want to be reassured about delivery and sending goods back – something that would be good to highlight in a PPC ad.
That said, 90 per cent of internet users do buy online (though the return rate is 50 per cent). Again, language expansion is a consideration, as is tone. Their preference is for modest, less ‘show-offy’ tactics – no brash claims of being the biggest and best.


Spain is a tricky market. Traditionally, Spanish people like the social element of shopping in store; and they like to pay by cash. No surprise that they buy less online, then, having what Paris Retail Week calls a ‘lowest cart achievement rate after Italy’ at 1.5 per cent. However, this is as much to do with lacking retail sites than shopping habits.

There is great potential if a site is engaging and interactive, though – there’s been a 66.5 per cent increase in people browsing shops via smartphone; get that PPC ad or website right and you could convert.

A big challenge is language with Spanish (Castilian), Catalan, Galician and Basque all used. The cost-per-click in Spain is 50 per cent less of that in the US. Bear in mind that Spanish consumers will hunt for a bargain; 35 per cent admit they’ll search online for the best prices.

The importance of localising your PPC campaign

The advantages are obvious. If you know the market, how they like to be engaged with and what their shopping habits are, you significantly increase your chances of success in that country. That’s the kind of information that localisation offers.

Localisation enables you to not only communicate effectively in another region, but to meet the business’s local goals. Localisation isn’t translation – it is the next step to reaching that foreign market: it takes into consideration all the cultural differences that are essential in attracting your target market, ensures you don’t make any awful faux pas and more importantly, that you don’t waste your money. It’s all the things that only those that have lived in that specific country would know, and that’s why we employ so many in-market experts – to ensure that you get it right.

If you’d like to find out more or talk to one of our SEM specialists, please Call 01225 580770 or click here for a quote. We are happy to help, and advice is always free.

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