Digital marketers who have worked both with the local market in Cyprus and on projects targeting other markets may have noticed something i have experienced consistently when handling campaigns within Cyprus. Getting online traffic from Cyprus is significantly more expensive, (in some cases twice or three times more expensive) than targeting other markets such as the Greek market.
This observation baffled me for quite some time. How can more digitally advanced countries with greater competition, more businesses and more technologically savvy people offer more converting traffic and at a much lower price than Cyprus? It seemed illogical back then but on further analysis, the reasons became clear to me.
Six years after making this observation and the situation hasn’t changed much. Traffic is still expensive to bid for, much more difficult to find, and also considerably less effective than traffic from other countries.
Through the years I have been able to identify the following significant elements:
- Traffic volume in Cyprus is much smaller. This is perhaps the primary and the most significant factor. The population is small in Cyprus (just above 800,000 on the last census), internet users lack experience with online browsing, (with the exception of Social Media and Online News consumption) and businesses have to make do with what is available.
- Many digital marketers in Cyprus do not really know how to build a bidding strategy from their Google Ads campaigns and therefore set their bids way higher than the required average. A few of those marketers are not an issue for Google Ads as the system is built to charge a cent more than the second higher bidder. But if we have two “clueless” marketers in an Auction, things get more complicated. So, yes there are “clueless” marketers among us who have an allocated budget to spend. What they also lack is a strategy, KPI’s and are ultimately are tossing money down the drain, while making the life for the rest of us much more costly and difficult, for no apparent reason.
- Google artificially inflates the cost of bids for some keywords even when there is no competition or very little competition for them. I cannot prove this, but I have consistently noticed it over the years. It is also evident that the threshold to get top ad positions in the SERP is set much higher for Cyprus.
- Local Online News Portals do not have traffic that is optimized for other website visits and purchases, making any investment economically unjustifiable.
- Social Media Networks offer cheap reach to mass audiences but the interests and demographics are poorly optimized, which consequently results in relatively cheap and wasteful traffic.
- Many websites in Cyprus are poorly optimized and do not offer a positive user experience. This results in a great number of users who do not wish to switch to online purchases and still prefer the offline approach
- Google favors Websites based in Greece over websites based in Cyprus ones for two reasons. Identical and greater volume since the Greek internet market is 11 times bigger than that of Cyprus. This is also connected to the fact the SEO in Cyprus has never taken off in most of the industries.
- The Turkish occupation does not contribute positively to this situation either. It is not within the remit of this article to delve deeper into this at the moment so will just say that since the island is split into two different markets and languages (which are not connected in a meaningful way making), interactions from the opposite side are not wanted by the initiating side. Also, location exclusion does not work very well (80% well and not 100% well).
So, this is how my experiences have validated my initial observations over the years. Have I found solutions and workarounds to the problem? Of course, I have but I will be sharing some of these in another blog post 😉
If you’re eager to know more or want to share your thoughts and ideas, get in touch with me now.