*This blog post was updated in November 2021
Our team of local and global experts showcase what there is to know about key regions across EMEA. In this post, we shine the light on France.
Table of contents:
- Brief history of affiliate marketing in France
- Affiliate marketing in France today
- Overview of the key affiliate marketing players
- Key differences between the UK and French affiliate market
While there is still debate on whether Amazon was the first online retailer to invent affiliate marketing in 1996, the industry was born in France a little bit later in 1999, and it took a few more years to become well established. Since its inception, affiliate marketing experienced constant growth, until 2013 when a drop-in investment happened due to several challenges, including difficulty tracking mobile traffic and attribution.
In late 2015, the French affiliate market started to recover thanks to changes within networks and SaaS platforms which placed a greater focus on brands. These included the introduction of better tracking that allowed multi-channel acquisition and implementation of industry best practice from key industry players such as the CPA (Council for Performance Advertising).
In terms of affiliate marketing trends in France, affiliate-specific spending reached highs of $330m last year, representing around 9% of the country's digital marketing spend. Projected ad spend is also set to grow by 18% by the end of 2021. France benefits from high levels of connectivity with internet penetration rates at 83%. The most popular forms of device ownership are smartphones at 96%, followed by laptops at 80% and tablets at 49%.
Following a turbulent year for brands navigating the pandemic, impacts to the travel, hospitality and leisure industries contributed to declining e-commerce spend at only 6% growth YoY. Despite this, the affiliate channel has developed considerably in the last year, with a surge in brands looking for opportunities to establish a strong online presence, moving away from traditional physical stores.
In terms of affiliates, the affiliate marketing trend is similar to other European markets, with most models existing in France. Loyalty and cashback partners represent the largest number of sales at 27%, followed by voucher partners (21%) content sites (18%) and comparison sites (12%).
In 2008, the key digital and affiliate marketing players across France created a professional union called the CPA to promote performance marketing, share best practices, and encourage communication and learning within the industry. It now has 80 members, including partners, advertisers, networks, SaaS platforms and marketing agencies.
The major global and European affiliate networks and SaaS platforms are present in France, too, including Awin, CJ Affiliate, Rakuten, Tradedoubler, Partnerize and Impact.
Key partners that brands might consider integrating into their French affiliate programmes include loyalty and voucher sites iGraal, Plebicom, Ma-reduc.fr, Groupon and Savoo.
The key distinction between the two markets is the maturity across different sectors. The French affiliate market is still slightly less mature than in the UK, but that is precisely what makes it a good opportunity for global brands. The market is full of exciting opportunities that often are at a lower cost.
Popular sectors for affiliate marketing
In France, insurance, and banking sectors have so far embraced affiliate marketing, helping to fuel future growth. This has led to the finance, automotive and telecommunications sectors also embracing its efficiency. An IAB report showed that in the UK, Retail and Telecommunications sectors dominate the market, generating 43% and 24% of total sales, followed by Travel and Leisure (16%) and Finance (11%).
Affiliate marketing best practices
Knowledge of the language, culture and market are also essential components of any successful global affiliate programme. When doing business in France it is more respectful to address business contacts with "vous" rather than "tu" until a strong relationship has been built, and punctuality is highly valued. Despite similar formalities and rules in the UK, humour is an inherent part of subtle communication in British business life.
Outlook for growth in affiliate marketing
The French affiliate market still has room for further investment and development, with exciting potential, thanks to all its key players. Training and knowledge sharing from top players, better tracking and data usage from advertisers, influencer management, and SaaS platforms have all played a part in the growth of affiliate marketing across France. As an advertiser or a partner, we hope that you can see the same potential in the market as we do.
If you would like to find out about launching or growing your global affiliate programme, get in touch with our team of affiliate marketing experts today.