In October, all online advertising in France totaled FF50.4 million (7.7 million euros), against a total of FF238.7 million (36.4 million euros) for the three key northern European markets of the UK, France, and Germany. This is a finding from the latest data from Internet AdWatch™, the local-language online ad-monitoring tool covering, France, Germany, and the UK from Forrester Research B.V. (Nasdaq: FORR). The UK was the largest European online ad market in October, seizing £9.6 million (16 million euros), with Germany in second place, driving DM24.9 million (12.7 million euros) in revenues.

Banque Nationale de Paris was France’s leading online advertiser, spending FF1.2 million (180,900 euros), followed by Hewlett-Packard which spent FF937,000 (142,800 euros), recruitment specialists StepStone at FF825,000 (125,700 euros), and everyday webguide’s FF786,000 (119,800 euros).

“The Web is fast becoming a mainstream advertising medium in France,” commented William Reeve, group director of European data products for Forrester. “Though French online advertising remains nine months to a year behind the UK market, it is becoming an increasingly mainstream ad medium — led by the media firms. At present, the French online ad market is 50% smaller than the UK’s, and ad revenues are directly related to traffic in France. This model is no longer viable in the more sophisticated UK market where publishers and advertising agencies are increasingly being held accountable and are required to measure campaign success.”

“Another important indication of how the French market lags the UK lies in the fact that advertising by Dot Coms and international firms remains high in France — each with a 65% share and 52% share respectively. Notable exceptions to this include France Telecom, Renault, and Le Figaro. Typically, as online ad markets mature, advertising by traditional firms local to that market outstrips spend by pure plays and international players — which is the case in the UK, for instance,” Reeve added.

“Acounting for over 60% of all placements, portals currently dominate France’s online ad market — and will continue to do so over the coming 24 months,” Reeve continued. “With 30% of the country’s online spend going to the top three portals — AOL, WANADOO/Voila and Yahoo! — the key battleground in France over the next two years will be for the remaining 30% of portal-dominated market share. This will be played out by the next tier broad-interest portal and vertical portals — so-called “vortals”. Forrester predicts the latter group’s ability to deliver more qualified and loyal audiences will mark the vortals as the ultimate winners in the battle for ad revenues, as many of the second tier portals flounder,” he said.

Media and entertainment was the largest French online advertising sector in October, accounting for 29% of the overall market at FF14.7 million (2.2 million euros). Next came consumer goods, generating FF9.5 million (1.4 million euros), 19% of all online advertising. Financial services advertising came in at FF7.6 million (1.1 euros), and business products and services drove FF6.3 million (967,000 euros): These accounted for a further 28% of the total French online advertising market.

Internet AdWatch tracks and values the online activities of more than 15,000 advertisers across more than 650 sites in France, Germany, and the UK and can be accessed in three distinct yet complementary ways. Internet AdWatch Online is a simple Web-interfaced desktop application that enables clients to search more than 6 million observations of online advertising — archived to May 1998 — with the facility to examine their competitors’ online ad campaigns in great detail, through analysis of creative work and the re-creation of media schedules. The Internet AdWatch Spending Monitor is an invaluable way to size the total online ad market and the split between product sectors on a monthly basis through a list of the top advertisers and campaigns with their estimated values. Finally, Internet AdWatch customers can receive weekly email Campaign Alerts with hotlinks to their placements.