The Oban Blog

Windmills, tulips and…digital marketing? Online opportunities in the Netherlands

If you ask a non-Dutch person about the Netherlands, the first things that will probably come to mind are Amsterdam, windmills, clogs and tulips. Often overlooked, this small country has considerably more to offer in terms of online opportunities. With this in mind, Oban highlights the emerging trends, facts and developments of this low entry but highly lucrative market. Opening up the possibilities of increasing brand visibility, engagement, traffic and most importantly revenue!

Internet and mobile penetration
For the last few years, the Netherlands has held the highest internet penetration rate in Europe, reaching a staggering 96% of 12 to 75 years (2013)1. This soaring online growth correlates with an upward trend of mobile internet, with 47% of the population now owning a smartphone2. Since 2007, mobile internet usage among those aged 12 to 25 tripled reaching an astonishing 86%3. Moreover, mobile internet access is prevalent with 6 out of 10 users and is predominant among younger demographics4.

The top three most popular activities on mobile are:

  • Sending/receiving e-mails (74%)
  • Social media and communication (68%)
  • Reading the news, papers and magazines (62%)7

Social media
Social media is fully integrated into daily life for the Dutch8. Twitter and LinkedIn have the highest penetration rate in the Netherlands and while Facebook is widespread, growth is static – indicating it’s entering the maturing phase of the product lifecycle. Dutch social media platform Hyves lost considerable market share to US-owned Facebook. Revealing its recently redefined marketing strategy will now target children and youth segments9. Other social media platforms like Google+, Instagram and Pinterest, have a much lower diffusion rate and are yet to be adopted by the public.

Social media usage
The rise of mobile internet has greatly increased social media usage among consumers. Both Facebook and Twitter are regularly accessed on smartphones more than any other device10. The number of internet users who logged on to social media during May (2013) reached 10 million people11, capturing 85.3% of the total online audience12.

Content consumption
A notable development is the roll-out of the 4G network, which provides ten times the speed of 3G internet access. In the USA, Sweden and Norway, where 4G is already running, online content consumption has had a significant uplift. Faster mobile internet means faster loading times for accessing content, which in turn means people read more in less time. With smartphones reaching the late majority, individuals accessing social media on their mobiles is increasingly commonplace13.

Consumer spending
The following graphs represent how digital marketing will influence consumer spending in the coming years. Figure.1 highlights online consumer spend in billions, while figure.2 gives insight on online consumer spending in the Netherlands and the EU.

final image

                     Online consumer spend in billions                            Online spend in the Netherlands and the EU

                     Image credit: Marketing Facts                                     Image credit: Marketing Facts

Popular search engines
Google is widely used in Holland and has a majority of the market share at 93%14. This is significantly higher than Yahoo (3%), (3%) and Bing (1%)15. It’s worth noting Yahoo’s market share increased from 0% to 3% in 2012 indicating a rise in popularity16.

International SEO strategy
When it comes to link building and increasing traffic, the guideline outlined by Google – the most popular search engine in the Netherlands – is to build a sustainable position by:

  • Relevancy
  • Unique content
  • Authority

Idea generation for link building content should look at:

  • Conducting in-depth market research
  • Sourcing relevancy in specific niches suitable for content creation
  • Develop inspirational campaigns around products to build trust, engagement and brand awareness

The quality of content is essential, so targeting online editorials and popular blogs with genuinely useful articles will help build online visibility and give exposure to authorship. The Dutch market is relatively small compared to other countries such as the USA and UK, so developing relations with online influencers is increasingly vital – as meet-ups and PR related events are less significant due to its size17.

To ensure a successful SEO strategy is implemented in the Netherlands apply:

  • Unique content
  • Adapt your online strategy to mobile
  • Be aware of social media as a fundamental characteristic of the online Dutch market
  • Improve your online visibility through Google search
  • Build relationships with online influencers
  • Consider the culture when conducting business and developing relations.  As with all markets, it’s important to respect any cultural business attributes when building relationships


1 Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek
2 Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek
3 Nownederland
4 Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek
5 Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek
6 Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek
7 Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek
8 Newcom
9 Emerce
10 Newcom
11 New Media Trend Watch
12 New Media Trend Watch
13 Marketing Facts
14 Nownederland
15 Nownederland
16 Nownederland
17 Chapter 42