West vs. East – Make a difference and get Germany right

[vc_row][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html][text_output]Happy days, my parents always told me, are being able to buy bananas not only when you were lucky enough and have made good friends with the local shop keeper, but anytime, anywhere! The GDR (German Democratic Republic) became part of West Germany, which is now the Federal Republic of Germany, and suddenly everything was possible…

Slowed down by a centralised national economy, which rigorously stuck to the so-called 5-year plan with minimal competition and massive restrictions, East Germany had to get up to speed after what we call the ‘Wende’ – the ‘change’. I grew up as an all-German citizen, but even now, 25 years after, differences between East and West exist, despite the efforts made to eliminate them. Wages are still lower in the East, unemployment rates higher and there is still a lack of highly qualified professionals.

Impacts of the ‘Iron Curtain’ even in PPC?

Now, why am I saying all this? Because significant political revolutions do have long-term consequences even on PPC, believe it or not…

Normally, we would look at Germany as a single market. It is hard to keep in mind that there might be a little more nuanced view on the situation required. Therefore, this heat map is a real eye opener:


What we are seeing here are the total Search impressions for one of our biggest clients within a certain time range. What leaps to the eye first? The big red area is the east of Germany, indicating much lower search demand compared to the West. This is just impressions, but we can see similar developments for other common PPC metrics, which suggests that there is a big difference regarding overall surf and search behaviour.

Population and population density is much lower in the East than in the West, with more rural areas and less developed infrastructure. A problem that the East has to face increasingly is the loss of young people, who move to the West because of a broader job market and higher salaries. Also, the population in the East is aging and therefore reducing. Internet affinity for this demographic group can be considered lower as well. All those factors lead to a lot lower engagement with online media in general and PPC in particular.

Additionally, there are technological issues: Broadband coverage is significantly lower in the east of Germany. 66% in the West vs. 32% in the East (Telegraph, September 2014) is a huge difference and accounts for the much smaller search volume we see in the heat map. Big cities in the West and Germany’s main economic areas in Northrhine-Westfalia accounts for the majority of this (green in the chart).

Berlin, as the capital and half of it being part of West Germany, is of course, an exception that levels up with the West. Only CTR looks here quite low as competition is higher than in the rest of Germany.

It is tricky to find consistent data regarding digital development in the West vs. East of Germany. What we definitely know is that differences in infrastructure and population leads to different media behaviour. Regarding digital marketing we can see very different performance results when comparing West and East.

So how do we tackle Germany’s regional peculiarities?

The necessary conclusions from this are- both German parts have to be treated almost as two different markets, with an individual approach regarding PPC strategies. For example, different bidding needs to be used, as CPC seems lower in the East due to less competition.

Generally, tests on different aspects of PPC, like ad copy, can be beneficial if there is a main focus on Germany as a target market. It will help to identify how both parts work and clarify what the differences are. Based on the results further activities can be tailored to get the most out of PPC; a straight forward activity could be to use optimised location targeting as a quick fix after analysing the data. There are no differences in language between West and East Germany, but definitely in culture and mentality, which are hard to identify and to work into any activity. The mentioned tests can possibly reflect the regional differences and the numerical results can be utilised to build individual targeting.

Structural differences within one country or region that can impact PPC performance doesn’t just occur in Germany, so it is important to find the right approach to adapt strategies accordingly. In Belgium, for example, different languages with Flemish and Dutch in the North, and French in the South can skew overall performances. Here, the obvious solution is to provide ad copy in different languages and adjust language settings.

To sum up – get to know your market in depth, with insights from tests and research. If you want to get it right, it is essential to be aware of regional differences and target them as specifically as possible ( to read more on audience targeting click here). And in the end everybody will know that not only the local shop keeper has bananas available now, but that they can even be ordered online to your shop by click-to-collect![/text_output][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][visibility type=”hidden-desktop”][gap size=”20px”][/visibility][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”ups-sidebar-2″][/vc_column][/vc_row]