What’s so different in Quebec?

This post is the first instalment in a series that will depict the state of the online nation in Quebec vs the rest of Canada, North America in general, even France in some cases.

Do you work in media, marketing, communications, advertising outside of Quebec? Ever hear: “it’s different in Quebec,” “this doesn’t work in Quebec,” “we do things differently in Quebec?”  This is the beginning of your insider’s guide to Online in Quebec (Quebec’s State of the Online Nation). The material from here on has been assembled by IAB Canada’s Quebec council to prepare marketers getting the most out of doing business in Quebec with agencies and publishers.

What’s the main difference with the Quebec online population compared to the rest of Canada?

First off, yes language is THE primary difference. Quebecers predominantly speak, read and write French. However this is not as true online as it is for other media. Primarily, other media are either regulated (TV or Radio by the CRTC; out of home by Quebec Law) or have minimum economies of scale to respect for economic purposes (magazines and newspapers (dailies and weeklies)).

Not as true online as for other media. What does that mean? Not that given a limited amount of online content in French for Quebecers we’d consult French content from France. Yes to a certain degree, however French Quebecers and French from France have much more cultural difference than Quebecers have from the rest of North America. Take just current events for an example, we (in Quebec) aren’t aware of the cultural, political and business scene in France. We are very much aware of these events in the rest of Canada or in the United States.

Quebecers consult almost as much English content as they do French content when you look at comScore numbers (reach, page views and time spent). And before you start wondering, no we make no difference between English Canadian or American content when online.

What does this mean in advertising terms?

At first glance, this means you can market to French Canadians or Quebecers in general in the English language on Quebec based websides, English Canadian Websites and American Websites.

However you have to consider why we consult so much English content. Is it because some of us prefer it? Or is it because available French content is just not up to par and some of us can understand English well?

Let’s assume the worst and it’s the later. If that is the case, would we respond better to and English language ad shown to us, or a French language ad we’d much more understand and relate to? Would we find it offensive, shocking, striking or welcome to see a French language ad on English language content?

On Quebec properties, Quebec advertising law applies and it states that against French content only French language ads can be shown / aired and vice versa on English media properties. Where out of home is concerned, it is exclusively French language, regardless of the neighbourhood. The only exception is recognised English media such at The Gazette, CTV and 92,5 the Q as examples.


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