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Profile of Spain from a Search Engine Marketing Perspective

This chapter provides a look at one international market, Spain, from the perspective of relevant search and demographic information important to marketers.
This chapter is from the book

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Kingdom of Spain is one of the biggest countries in Europe, with just over 46.5 million inhabitants. Spain is the fifth-largest Internet market in Europe, and in the top 20 worldwide. According to a Nielsen study done in June 2010, just over 29 million, or 62.6 percent of the total population, use the Internet. This is an increase from around 5.5 million users in 2000. In a typical week, 20.2 million, or 58 percent of the population, use the Internet.

Profile of Spain Online

As you can see in Table 13.1, Spanish Internet users are content readers, and the results of the data from comScore show that Microsoft portals were the most popular website category, reaching close to 99 percent of web users in Spain. In second place were the search engines and then social media networks such as Facebook. Facebook reached 48.8 percent of the Spanish online population with 14.2 million unique visitors in September 2010. Facebook and local social network, Tuenti, both were the big gainers that year, by 49 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

Table 13.1 Top 10 Web Properties in Spain—Millions of Unique Visitors


September 2009(in Millions)

September 2010(in Millions)

% Change

Total Internet Persons




Microsoft Sites




Google Sites








Yahoo! Sites




Wikimedia Foundation Sites




Grupo Prisa








RCS Media Group












Source: comScore, Total Spanish Audience, Home and Work, Ages 15 and Up, September 2009 vs. September 2010

The comScore study found Spanish Internet users engaging more and more with social media sites and networks, with a stunning 90.1 percent of the Spanish online population now being reached via social media such as Facebook and Tuenti (see Figure 13.1).

Figure 13.1

Figure 13.1 Tuenti is one of the leading social media platforms in Spain and is available in Castilian (Castellano), Catalan, English, Basque, and the Galician languages.

Spain has one of the most mature mobile markets in the world, with 3G licenses available for more than a decade. Spain’s mobile market also is one of the largest in Europe. The effect of the Spanish people’s strong ties to their smartphones and tablet devices was made clear in a 2010 Zed Digital study in Spain of 16,000 consumers ages 14–44. This study found that 54 percent of the respondents access the Internet via mobile devices (smartphones and tablets, for example). One of the principal activities was using search, but checking emails, entering social networks, and instant messaging were also strong. Accessing social networks on mobile devices by 16–44-year-olds grew 275 percent in 2010.

The Spanish language is key. According to a 2005 study called the Eurobarometer, conducted by the European Commission, only 44 percent of Spaniards said yes when asked if they spoke a second language well enough to have a conversation. What’s more, you may need to choose among four recognized regional languages depending on which part of Spain you’re targeting:

  • Castilian Spanish—Spoken by 74 percent of the population and the official language nationwide
  • Catalan/Valencian—Spoken by 17 percent and official regionally
  • Galician—Spoken by 7 percent and official regionally
  • Basque—Spoken by 2 percent and official regionally

Other than Basque, the regional Spanish languages are similar in the way that Scandinavian languages are. However, each region has a strong identity and distinct cultural differences, such as you’d find in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. More than merely dialects, these differences set each region in Spain apart from its neighbors. Even though people in each region can understand each others’ version of Spanish, they will respond more readily when addressed in their own.

Video sites are extremely popular with Spaniards. In fact, they are second only to France among European nations. According to research published by comScore, 83.1 percent of Spaniards online watched a video in October 2010, representing 19.2 million Spanish viewers, who watched 2.9 billion online videos. As you can see from Table 13.2, more than 8 out of 10 of those who watch video did so on YouTube, which supplies nearly all the videos watched on Google in Spain. Owning both the most-used channels for search and video online grants Google enormous influence over Spanish Internet users, and provides a large opportunity for your marketing message. You can use YouTube for both PPC advertising and video uploading for visibility in Google universal search results.

Table 13.2 Top Spanish Online Video Content by Unique Visitors


Total Unique Viewers (000)

Videos (000)

Total Hours (MM)

Share of Audience

Total Internet Audience





Google Sites















Microsoft sites










RCS Media Group





Grupo Prisa





Viacom Digital





Hispavista Sites










Source: comScore Video Metrix October 2010

The Spanish version of YouTube is shown in Figure 13.2. Other video sites that should not be overlooked are Vevo and Dailymotion; both are in English. There are other local and global players with significant share, too, as you can see in Table 13.2. Clearly Google’s YouTube accounts for much, much more video watching than other sites in Spain, but it is not exclusive. The shares of audience add up to more that 100%, which tells us that Spanish viewers visit more than one site to watch videos. This means the other sites can be additional opportunity for you to show your video content to Spanish audiences.

Figure 13.2

Figure 13.2 YouTube can play a hefty role when it comes to marketing in Spain.

The Spaniards’ affinity for video sites aside, multitasking is apparently not as popular in Spain. Only 54 percent use at least two different media at the same time—also known as “media meshing.” This is well below the European average of 76 percent who media mesh, as it were.

Similarly, according to research done by Affilinet in June of 2010, Spanish online shoppers shop less frequently online and spend less than their European neighbors. However, Spaniards do use social networks far more than others in Europe to research online purchases. People in Spain also are likely to gather more research overall before making a purchase; 50 percent indicated they use three or more sources to make buying decisions. Furthermore, 21.6 percent said they use Facebook or Twitter to investigate product satisfaction among people in their networks before buying.

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