For many advertisers, business boundaries extend far beyond the borders of their home country. Once leaving the safety of the primary market, it’s likely that advertisers will need to explore multilingual account coverage.

Many advertisers will attack this expansion opportunity by going one of two routes:

  • Door #1: The “close enough” by running duplicated English campaigns in a foreign country.
  • Door #2: The “translate and call it a day” by running ads and targeting in the localized language.

A quick glance at Google’s language visualization reveals the prevalence of English inventory outside of the United States. This lends support for advertisers opting for door #1 here. The simple fact, however, is there are a lot of nuances to Learn About International PPC and much of that begins with language. As for door #2, many advertisers will opt for the solely supporting the local language to maximize reach without the complications multilingual support.

Today we’ll make the case that neither door #1 or door #2 is sufficient. For best results, international PPC efforts should include campaigns in both English and the local language.

International PPC efforts should include campaigns in both English and the local language. Click To Tweet

What is Needed To Expand PPC Language Coverage?

I believe there are three prerequisites before considering multilingual creative support:

  • Creative and website assets
  • Managment capacity
  • Demonstrated value in the target market

Each of these components is fairly straightforward. Obviously, website assets such as a landing page in the target language is a necessity. Beyond that, keep in mind that adding additional language support also increases management complexities. If creating International Search Campaigns, you’ll be combing through Search Query Reports with multiple languages. For Facebook, you’ll likely have comments outside of your native tongue to vet. Before launching, have a clear strategy to address these obstacles — and no, Google Translate alone is definitely not sufficient.

Lastly, don’t expand for the sake of expansion. Given that time is a limited commodity, don’t chase the 0.01% gains. Start with country and language combinations supported by outside analysis that demonstrate untapped potential. While Google Reps and marketing case studies can provide vertical insights, I recommend doing internal analysis incorporating mediums outside of PPC to identify markets already resonating.

Why Should You Expand Your PPC Language Coverage?

First off, multiple language support is an incredible way to increase your target audience and move into markets otherwise missed. Beyond simply extending reach, adding coverage for both English and top localized languages can have a major impact on the bottom line. As demonstrated by the following case studies, successful implementation will achieve at least one of two things: increase volume at current CPA or decrease CPA at current volume.

Increase Volume At Current CPA

For this initiative, we had a hard cap on CPA within Facebook in an emerging international market. For reference, the country is India and initial ad targeting could only support English. Volume hit a ceiling at with current goal CPA no matter what combination of lookalike, interest, and remarketing audiences we ran.

With campaigns failing to hit daily budgets caps, limiting coverage to this extent was undeniably impacting our final ROI. Furthermore, research has demonstrated that India’s internet users have more faith in content that’s not in English. To address this, we routinely pitched support of Hindi ads on Facebook to the client. Understandably so, it required a lot of time and effort to eventually produce the necessary creative. Once launched, the results were extremely impressive for Hindi campaigns.

Compared to their English counterparts, Hindi campaigns drove 75% more volume at a 61% lower CPA. Interestingly, conversion rate spiked by over 36% demonstrating a much stronger connection between creative and audience. After launching these campaigns, we noticed an interesting trend in our English efforts as well.

Following the launch of Hindi campaigns, English coverage also improved. CPA dropped by roughly 28%, while conversion rate rose 13%. In this scenario, I tend to attribute the fluctuation to an increase of data and volume helping Facebook’s algorithm better optimize its delivery.

Decrease CPA at Current Volume

On the flip-side of the coin is a project designed to keep consistent volume, yet generate a cheaper CPA. Unlike above, I was consistently hitting spend targets and CPA goals for a given global client. In this example, we were actually running the reverse version of creative support detailed above. For here, we were in three international markets active only in the local language. Since we had the creative assets, the managment capactiy, and demonstrated value, I quickly generated and launched English support.

An initial look at relative changes shows somewhat mixed results. English support for Germany was 10.67% cheaper, while English coverage in Mexico was 26.87% more efficient. Argentina, on the other hand, saw a 27% boost in these costs. Why was English support lower in Germany and Mexico? Simply because we were only looking for supplemental volume. The increase in potential audience allowed us to bid cheaper in all campaigns while fulfilling the full target budgets. Take a look at how it impacted overall CPA:

As demonstrated above, the increase in inventory outside of our primary target language led to a boost in efficiency across the entire account. Since spend remained steady, we were able to bid less in the legacy content.

A couple quick caveats here for full transparency.  This account is unique in that it has a low barrier of entry for the consumer and the product offering is almost universal in need. These are EXTREME changes in the cost of acquisition which I would not anticipate in accounts that are more niche. I’d expect a similar directional trend, but more conservative percentage wise. That said, expanding your supported languages can undeniably improve both efficiency and volume.


Choosing to venture into multiple-language account support is an exciting and risky move. Over the past couple of months, we’ve seen the interest from clients sky-rocket. Personally, I’ve found tremendous value testing these initiatives when proper assets, management capacity, and geo identification are all properly addressed. Feel free to shoot me any questions or discussion at @Will_Larcom on Twitter.

Cover photo courtesy of Eltpics