A benefit of digital advertising is the ability to run campaigns in any location, regardless of where you are launching them from. And that’s not just in a number of different cities or regions nationwide, but also internationally. Reaching an international audience with your campaigns can increase awareness, revenue and foster a more established brand presence. As technology has allowed people to better communicate globally, advertising across borders has become the natural next step for companies to amplify their brand voice and expand their consumer base.
For advertisers expanding internationally, there are a few areas that need to be taken into consideration.
There are so many languages spoken around the world, and increasingly there are multiple languages spoken in any given country. When it comes time to building your campaign, a common strategy is to use English as the default for targeting—assuming that there are enough users that understand the language. Although this may be the simplest approach, a better way to appeal to the target audience is to speak their language. Start by researching the country you’re targeting to see what languages are actually spoken there, to encourage higher engagement rates from your chosen market. The language settings in your campaign will ensure your campaign has the capacity to reach the right users with the right language settings on their device.
2. Time Zone
When expanding your advertising efforts internationally, keep in mind the time zones settings of your campaign to ensure your ads will be displayed in the time zone of your selected geography and not the defaulted time zone in your account settings. Depending on your campaign strategy, you may have already tested running your campaign at specific times to maximize the visibility of your ad. For example, if it is a takeout option for dinner, showing ads between the hours of 3pm and 5pm would be ideal. Now if you’re running an international campaign, these hours will differ depending on the time zone. So, you will want to ensure you are aligning with the appropriate time zones so that you don’t waste your media dollars on times that are irrelevant to the campaign.
Start by separating your campaign line items by geo. This will allow you to take advantage of dayparting options. You can then identify the exact hour you plan on launching and ending your campaign, ensuring you have the most control over your media spend. Timing considerations are also met with date considerations. How long do you want the ad to be in-market for? Some countries are almost a full day ahead based on the difference in time, so you will want to consider ending your international campaigns a day earlier or a day later, depending on the time zone your account is set in.
Depending on where you are choosing to target internationally, there are different seasons to think about. If you are running seasonal campaigns, based on specific weather or outdoor environments, determine whether the country you are targeting is in the northern or southern hemisphere. You should also consider how the people living there experience the seasons. For example, winter in the United States is from December to February, where it is June to August in Australia. Also, winters could be mild in some countries and colder in others. Have a roster of appropriate creatives for each season to ensure the ads align with the temperature the audience is experiencing. So, if your product is a refreshing drink, ensure the country you are serving it to is currently in summer, or serve them different messaging to align with the winter season.
4. Creative Messaging
Creative messaging is the core of your brand’s voice and a powerful advertising tool that can influence how your users perceive your brand. Engaging creatives will get users to visit your site and, as we all know, the more clicks, the better! In order to make sure you’re properly equipped with engaging ads, consider these few factors to appeal to an international audience:
- Leverage translators wherever possible. If you have found that different languages are spoken widely in the country you are hoping to target, find ways to translate the messaging for your creatives—don’t solely put your faith in Google Translate. The foreign language will resonate with the user more instead of defaulting to English. You can hire a contractor for creative translation, or ask around the office to see if someone on the team is comfortable translating!
- Consider the localization nuances. Being aware of local nuances such as currency, phone numbers, and email addresses to name a few will help you “fit in” to your targeted market. For example, if you include prices in your ad, you will want to ensure the appropriate currency symbol and punctuation is used.
- Use appropriate subtitles. When it comes to video ads, use subtitles to clearly outline the messaging in text format to complement the audio. This is a general tip for video ads, but is quite important if you are using ads in different languages—your subtitles should be translated as well. Alternatively, like a foreign movie you can use subtitles to complement the original language in your video ad.
- Respectfully showcase cultural references. Use fonts, colours, or show people doing activities in the ads that match the culture and style of the country you’re advertising to. Making the ad as relatable as possible to the country you are advertising to is imperative to your creative’s success. Coca Cola is completely rebranded in every single country for a reason. Why should your ads be any different?
As you set your sights on international audiences, the types of ads you will run will be influenced by the devices they use. Device penetration differs internationally. In many countries, such as Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico, you will find some of the largest groups of smartphone users. And as it turns out, audiences in the United Kingdom are heavily drawn to connected TV (CTV) devices. It is important to determine what devices are being used by your target audience, and build your campaigns and creatives accordingly.
Advertising internationally can be very beneficial to your company’s growth, but there are some international policies to keep in mind. It is important to comply with the policies that are in place for specific regions, in order to ensure your campaigns can run. One pronounced law, specifically enforced in Europe since 2018, is GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation. This law was created by the European Union to enforce the protection of user’s personal data, ensuring that users are consenting—via consent gate—to be tracked via cookies while browsing the web. More specifically, to be compliant with the law, your site must contain the following:
“Consent must be clearly given for processing of personal data, the data subject must be made aware of how the information will be used, and they must have the ability to withdraw consent at any time.”
In order to have your site be compliant to run in the EU, you must ensure that your domain has a visible consent gate, similar to the one below:
If you’re wondering how to get this consent gate created, consider installing a plug-in to help you build a pre-made gate, or you can consult with your site development team to build one with custom code. If you’re running your next campaign in Europe, make sure you are asking for consent from the user to track their data—explaining how their data will be used and giving them an opt-out option if necessary.
Keep in mind, Europe is not the only region that has privacy laws in place for online advertising. Some countries have differing policies based on region—like CCPA in California. Before you launch your digital campaign in new localities, it’s imperative that you double check your landing page’s domain to ensure you are complying with the digital laws of the countries (or regions) you wish to run in.
Finally, given all the considerations listed above, an important differentiator you need to keep in mind when running international campaigns is scale. It is much easier to run a campaign with plenty of scale when targeting English speakers in the United States—but that is not true for all international campaigns. The number of available impressions is composed of the number of users that are online in that country, and the amount in international ad inventory. Keyword or contextual targeting are the best ways to ensure international scale. Stay flexible with your targeting strategy, so you can test which targeting methods work best for your international campaign.
Given the right foresight and planning for international campaigns, digital advertising can be a very effective and cost-efficient way of bringing international awareness and engagement to your brand.