July 1, 2016
4 Essential Ways to Create Winning Videos for the French Market
By Eliane Mouawad, European Accounts Manager

France has long boasted a distinct culture that has kept the nation at the forefront of fashion, design and business for centuries. As it’s clear the French are incredibly influential in dictating global taste, they are a sought-after demographic for digital marketers across all verticals.

However, the uniqueness of the French perspective presents a double-edged sword to marketers. Brands must understand that the French people’s preferences for digital ads, especially ones that use video, are as distinctive as their tastes elsewhere.

Here are four key points digital marketers should keep in mind when seeking to appeal to the French:

Embrace Imperfection to Maximize Authenticity

The French do not appreciate condescension. When considering the content of your video ads, assume high viewer intelligence and appeal to notions that are uniquely French. This may require extensive research on your part into regional tastes. If you’re an international wine manufacturer, for example, flexing an in-depth knowledge of regional varietals and microclimates in your videos is a must.

In this regard, the French are trendsetters by reflecting the emerging tastes of the Millennial generation as a whole, whichranks being authentic among the top two brand qualities that engage them. French social videos have been quite successful in embracing quirky, authentic imperfection, such as Intermarché Supermarkets’ “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” video, which honors the misshapen but no less edible produce that’s often discarded by supermarkets. Assume this emphasis on authenticity regardless of the French demographic you seek to engage.

Prioritize Twitter and Instagram Over Facebook

Not surprisingly, the French are well connected on social media. Eighty-two percent of French Internet users are registered on a social network, according to a study conducted by My French Communication Agency. Additionally, 82 percent of respondents said they had watched a video on their social network, compared to 68 percent who had posted a photo. Clearly, video advertising has great potential to succeed.

However, which social network you choose to distribute your ads can have an effect. In my experience, young people in France are engaging with Facebook less, so the future of social video may lie in platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Dior’s Instagram activity during its Dior Cruise fashion show, posting behind-the-scenes content and candid photos of models, is a recent example of a French brand using the image-based social network to great success. Keep this in mind when planning your French social video campaign.

Reach French Standards of Sophisticated Data Targeting

Given the advancements in ad targeting technology in recent years, it is only a matter of time before behavioral and geological targeting are ubiquitous to refine the search for your consumer. France has already taken the lead in this regard.

In the French Army’s recent ground forces recruitment social video campaign, which depicted a diverse assortment of soldiers in training and combat, I was impressed by how refined the demographic targeting was. As a woman living in Paris, I never saw the videos on the websites I visited, even when I sought them out. My boyfriend, however, did; clearly, he was part of the target demographic of French men, aged 22-35. This point is significant considering that nearly half of all video ads are never watched. That is money wasted no matter where you’re targeting, but the successes of French marketers makes the contrast more stark.

Be Careful of Context

The U.S. is only now starting to wake up to the importance of contextual relevance in branded social video. The French, deeply familiar with issues of image and status, have long been aware of this, so make sure to place your social videos on the platforms of reputable publishers, like La Monde and Le Figaro.

Just as in real estate location is integral to assessing property value, you do not want a video that you expended valuable resources creating to appear beside low quality content. This can cause French consumers to create negative associations with your brand, all due to some very preventable negligence.

Bottom Line

By prioritizing authenticity, embracing image-based social media platforms like Instagram, using behavioral and demographic targeting and making sure ads are contextually relevant, your video ad will make a much greater impact on the French people. If you treat your product and distribution with respect, the French will appreciate your efforts in equal measure.

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