Algeria Online Marketing Country Profile
This online marketing profile will examine the opportunities available for online marketing in Algeria based on various statistics and tests of different marketing tools. We will give a brief description of the demographics, languages, and policies of the Algeria to establish a good background for marketers looking to expand into the country, then provide analysis of Algerian Google search trends, e-commerce, SEO, PPC advertising, social media, and spread of mobile marketing.
Basic Overview of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
Below is a brief summary of the Algeria’s demographic, cultural, and economic background in order to help you target marketing campaigns in the most appropriate manner. The information will be accompanied by related suggestions on how to tailor advertising to respect this background.
Algeria is one of the most populated Arabic-speaking countries, with over 40 million citizens in 2016. It has a very low foreign and European population – over 99% of Algerians are Arab-Berber. Only 15% of Algerians actively identify as Berber and live in mountainous regions, and Berber groups have often protested for autonomy. Over 70% of Algerians identify more strongly with an Arab identity and live in dense urban areas. This division of the population suggests that marketers should avoid tribal messages in their ads and focus on marketing to an Arab identity while targeting Algeria’s cities. It is also important for marketers to avoid making any statements on Islam or incorporating themes such as drinking, gambling, and pornography into their advertisements due to the very high (greater than 99%) percentage of the population that is Sunni Muslim. Approximately 45% of the population is under the age of 24, so advertisement targeting should be done with a very young audience in mind.
The country’s economy is heavily dominated by the state and relies mostly on exports of natural gas. This has resulted in high unemployment among Algeria’s young population. As of 2015, the unemployment rate in Algeria was estimated to be around 11%. The 2015 GDP was $166.8 billion, indicating recent growth and the expansion of the economy outside the hydrocarbon sector. Algeria’s legal system is based on both French and Islamic law – indicating that Islam is a large influence in Algerian society. Marketers targeting Algeria should be mindful of the strong Islamic presence in many aspects of the country’s society and of the high unemployment facing Algeria’s youth.
Algeria’s linguistic situation is unique due to the population split between a more urban Arab population and the large percentage of Berbers living in the country’s mountainous regions. Although both Arabic and Berber are counted as Algeria’s official languages, the greatest portion of the urban population does not speak any dialect of Berber. The Berber language is not taught in schools, and French is commonly used as a lingua franca so that the two groups can communicate with one another. By looking at the most common keywords used to access top Algerian-specific sites as well as the language on each site, we can conclude that most Algerians search in Arabic – usually but not always using the Arabic alphabet to do so. A majority of news and Algerian-specific sites were written in Arabic with a French option with a few using French as the primary language. Marketers should target their ads with a focus on the Arabic language, while also using some French and transliterated Arabic keywords.
Algeria’s censorship laws are in general both vague and strict, and have resulted in a low Freedom House score of 7/15 for liberty of expression in media. The central government controls the content of most Algerian news sources and reserves the right to block content on certain vaguely defined topics. Most blocked information and discourse is that which is deemed harmful to Algeria’s security or economics, indicates disapproval of the government, or disrespects Islamic morals. Laws that regulate Internet content have been repeatedly used in past years to prosecute those who publish content critical to the government or its policies. Foreign media is also regularly blocked when the government deems its content threatening or otherwise objectionable. A 2009 cybercrime law in Algeria makes it possible for any website to be blocked for threat to decency and security. Websites are not the only receivers of strict censorship – citizens have been charged for negativity toward the government on their Facebook posts in 2015. Marketers targeting Algeria should be very careful to avoid any inflammatory language in their ads and any criticism – or any mention – of Algerian policies, the president, and Islam.
Algeria Internet Country Codes
Algeria offers one top-level domain in Latin characters. Domains are administered by the Network Internet Center, and have very few restrictions. The only restriction to apply for a domain name is that the organization applying must have a presence in Algeria itself. A domain name costs about 1000 Algerian dinars, or 14 U.S. dollars, a year.
Popular Websites in Algeria
Following are the top 10 most visited websites in Algeria for December 2016:
This list is for the most part typical of any country’s top 10 list, including international favorites such as Google, YouTube, and Yahoo. However, the inclusion of Google.fr in the top 10 list suggests a heavy influence of France and French language into Algeria. Another very interesting inclusion is ouedkniss.com, which is a small Algeria-specific E-commerce site. The high ranking of ouedkniss.com is an optimistic sign for marketers, pointing to the eagerness of Algerians to search and buy online.
Popular Region-Specific Websites in Algeria
Following are the top 10 most visited region-specific websites. This list includes websites that are based in or directed towards Algeria and MENA.
The majority of the sites on this list are news sites, either based in Algeria or focused toward North Africa and the Middle East. Two outliers are Ouedkneiss.com, an E-commerce website based in Algeria, and Ency-education.com – a site used to provide education materials to Algerian schools and students. The prevalence of news and education websites suggests an intelligent and curious population. The presence of an E-commerce website on the top 10 list suggests a willingness to buy and interact online.
Popular E-Commerce Sites in Algeria
Algeria poses a number of serious problems to marketers looking to expand their E-commerce efforts into the country. One of the most serious barriers is the stipulation in Algerian law that makes it illegal for citizens to purchase goods from outside the country – although businesses may purchase foreign items for internal use. Marketers will have to establish a base within the country to be able to see business from Algerian citizens. The scarcity of international and private-use credit cards in Algeria also hampers the success of online marketers. More crucial, however, is the extremely low Internet penetration – only 19.7%, or just over 40,000, citizens are connected to the Web. This makes Algeria one of the countries with the lowest Internet penetration rates in 2016. A lack of online payment gateways also makes Algerians reluctant to trust E-commerce websites. Many top platforms operate on a CoD (cash on delivery) system, which can be unreliable and result in enormous return rates. These issues aside, however, Algeria is a largely untapped market that may show great promise once more of the population is connected to the Internet and more websites have provided reliable methods of payment. The managing director of Kaymu, one of the top E-commerce platforms in Algeria, claims that there has been a lot of growth in the sector throughout 2016.
Following are the most visited Algerian and MENA-focused ecommerce websites:
Search Engine Marketing in Algeria
Statsmonkey’s 2014 usage statistics for search engine sites in Algeria indicate that while Google does hold the large majority of the search engine market share, other sites do earn a significant amount of traffic. Ask Jeeves and Yahoo have a significant user base in Algeria, and might be worth the targeting effort to get a different audience and less competitive market once you have tested digital marketing on Google in Algeria.
State of SEO in Algeria
Here we will compare the relative competition for Search Engine Optimization in Algeria and the United States using Moz.com’s Open Site Explorer. We will compare SEO metrics by searching for generic keywords on each country’s specific Google page and then looking at the relative trust and number of equity-passing links on each top site (specific to the certain page featured in the top results). We will use the top organic link on each page, ignoring pay-per-click advertisements.
Books in USA vs. Books in Algeria
The SEO metrics of these top pages in the United States and Algeria are actually very similar. They hold close levels of rank and trust, and the Algerian site contains more external equity-passing links. Although the U.S. page has more links and thus more page authority, the closeness in numbers to the Algerian website suggests a similar level of competition to rank high on both countries’ Google sites.
Cars in USA vs. Cars in Algeria
The difference in SEO metrics between the U.S. and Algeria is more stark in the search for cars, but still demonstrates a close level of relative competition. The two pages received similar levels of rank and trust. The U.S. site held a far greater number of equity-passing links than the Algerian site. However, it is important to note that the U.S. search led to the homepage of cars.com, whereas the Algerian search led to a specific subdomain. This helps to explain the great difference in number of links between the two results. It also may indicate a higher level of SEO competition in Algeria because a smaller sub-page achieved close to the same levels of SEO needed for the homepage of a large company in the U.S. to reach the top Google ranking.
State of PPC in Algeria (Paid Searches)
In this section, we will examine the relative competition for pay-per-click advertising between the United States and Algeria. We will show that there is a lot of room and opportunity in the Algerian market for marketers to engage in successful PPC advertising.
Analyzing the PPC Differences between the U.S. and Algeria
We will now look at the opportunity for success in using pay-per-click advertising in Algeria by comparing the number, quality, and relevance of PPC ads that result from searches in Algeria and the U.S. We will use basic keywords that express intent to buy in hopes of generating two different searches that would result in a number of PPC ads. We will search in English on Google.com and in Arabic on Google.dz.
Our first search will be for “cheap flights to London”, in English for the U.S. and in Arabic for Algeria:
This search at first appears to show close levels of competition between the U.S. and Algeria – the Algerian search results in 3 relevant paid ads compared to the 4 from the U.S. site. However, it is important to remember that Google offers only 4 spots for top-page advertising. The filled slots for the U.S. page indicate that there are likely many other ads competing and bidding for those prime spots. In addition, the ads for the Algerian site are not as relevant to the search as those on the U.S. page. They highlight flights from cities outside of Algeria such as Beirut and Jeddah, indicating a lack of Algeria-specific paid advertising.
Our next search will be for “apartments for rent” in the U.S. and Algeria:
This search emphasizes the lower level of competition in Algeria compared to the United States. Though the top four results for the Algerian page are all relevant to the search and location-specific, none of them are a result of PPC advertising. These searches demonstrate a real lack of pay per click advertising in Algeria. Marketers can take advantage of this opportunity by engaging in very cheap bidding on Google Adwords to obtain top placement ads in Algeria.
Geo-Targeting Opportunities in Algeria
The vast majority (almost 71% as of 2015) of Algeria’s population is urbanized, living in cities in the northern part of the country close to the Mediterranean Sea. This makes Algeria an excellent location for geo-targeting certain cities with greater numbers of people, different specializations, and better infrastructure to be able to engage in online marketing in Algeria. Below, we have brief descriptions of the top 5 most populated cities in Algeria.
Algiers is the capital and largest city of Algeria, with a population of nearly 2 million. For comparison, it is a little less populated than the city of Houston. It is the economic center of Algeria, and houses the country’s foreign embassies.
With a population of almost 650,000, Oran is the second largest port city in Algeria after the capital Algiers – located at the closest point in the country to Spain. Oran is filled with government offices and manufacturing plants – mainly exporting food items such as wines and cereals.
Social Media in Algeria
Although Algeria’s Internet penetration statistics are shockingly low, those citizens that do have access to and regularly use the Internet seem to be highly engaged with social media. As of June 2016, the IWS (Internet World Stats) reported that the number of users active on Facebook was roughly equal to the number of citizens accessing the Internet. These numbers demonstrate an increased use of the Internet from 2015, when the Arab Social Media Report suggested that around 92% of Algerian Internet users were active on Facebook. It also indicated that a large majority of Algerian Facebook users accessed the site on nearly a daily basis. However, it also indicated that penetration by other platforms such as Twitter and Instagram were extremely low – Twitter was used by around 23% of Internet users and Instagram hovered at 3%. These statistics suggest that marketers might do very well to concentrate on advertising through Facebook, which a large number of young and Internet-savvy Algerians are constantly checking. However, marketers should keep in mind the power of the government over the Internet in Algeria, both in its censorship and in its ability to impose blackouts on the Net. In 2011, the Algerian government shut down the Internet and deleted a number of Facebook accounts in response to pro-democracy protests – citing the ability of Facebook to act as an organizing tool as justification to block it throughout the country. The government has also been known to block social media networks during exam times in an effort to suppress cheating efforts, such as in June of 2016. Marketers should concentrate their social media advertising on Facebook with the knowledge that it is not unprecedented for access to the site to be severely restricted.
Most “Liked” Facebook Pages in Algeria
Following are the most popular Facebook pages in Algeria in 2016:
خديخة بن قنة
Journal el Bilad
Warda وردة الخزائرية
Hafid Derradji- حفيظ دراجي
This list includes a number of Arabic and French journals and magazines, ranging from topics of the home to sports. It also contains a number of performers such as Khaled, Lofti DK, and Warda. Topping the list is famous Arabic-language author Ahlam Mosteghanemi. This list indicates the interest of Algerians in news and music, as well as literature.
State of Mobile Marketing in Algeria
According to the “The Mobile Economy Arab States 2015” report conducted by GMSA Intelligence, as well as statistics by Evolita, the smartphone penetration in Algeria that would enable citizens to engage in mobile marketing is half the global average and well below the average of other Arab states at only 22%. There are currently no live LTE networks in Algeria, although plans to implement one network are underway. However, it is not only the low number of Algerians with phones able to access apps and the Internet that prevents growth in mobile marketing in Algeria. As of 2014, only about half of the Algerian population held a bank account. The popularity of Cash on Demand systems solves this problem, but results in huge rates of returns for sellers. Marketing on apps or optimizing a website for mobile may not be worth the investment due to the low numbers of Algerians able to effectively use smartphones to engage in mobile shopping and the high return rates for those who are able.
Seasonal Promotion Times
Following are the public holidays in Algeria that can be used by marketers to schedule seasonal promotions. For more information on public holidays, their significance in various MENA countries, and how to successfully market seasonal promotions please visit the IstiZada guide here.
- New Year’s Day (January 1st)
- Independence Day (July 5th)
- Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan, date varies according to the Hijri calendar)
- Eid al-Adha (Islamic feast day, date varies according to the Hijri calendar)
- Muharram (Islamic New Year, date varies according to the Hijri calendar)
- Achoura (10th Day of the Islamic New Year, date varies according to the Hijri calendar)
- Anniversary of the Revolution (Beginning of the NLF
There were many positive aspects to this report on Algeria’s online marketing state and potential. We found great opportunity for Facebook advertising, space for cheap and highly effective PPC ads, and high levels of sophisticated search engine optimization. However, in all, Algeria has poorly developed infrastructure to support E-commerce as effectively as developed markets like the US. Digital marketers looking to be an earlier pioneer in this online market may find some big rewards for their efforts, if they focus their efforts on those consumers who are both online and use credit cards.
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