International PPC campaigns: Key issues

Blog | 13 May, 2014

Daniel Wilkinson, EVP US Agency, takes a look at the key issues for paid search when running international PPC campaigns.

When running PPC campaigns internationally, one of the things that comes up often is the languages, and from my perspective language can be a challenge, but not from a keyword, ad copy, landing page perspective. Most agencies these days have really good links with either translation services, or often they have people that they employ that are local language speakers, sometimes those people are even in situ.

So where language is a challenge for us sometimes is if the clients product or service is an English product or service, but we're advertising in the local language. At some point you need to broach the fact that the product that person is going to receive is in English and not in their local language, and that can sometimes cause us a few challenges.

Probably more challenging than languages is actually nuances of each international market. For some of our clients we're operating across 150 different countries, and trying to understand those different nuances, how do people like to be marketed to, what is the size of the market?

We went through an interesting exercise where one of our clients was really excited about one of the markets. Actually when we started speaking to people in that market, we used our Google contacts to get some information, we started breaking it down, and we ended up with a target market of two people, which all of a sudden doesn't become so exciting.

PPC is a great way of testing and breaking into new markets, but lots of clients have done a lot of homework before they want to break into that market. As soon as they can give us that information and we can start including that in the PPC strategy at the earliest stage, that's where we normally where we see our, our best results.

There may not be an opportunity for that product or service in that market. In which case, just using paid search spend to explore that doesn't make sense. So yeah, it's really important that, in conjunction with our clients, we do a lot of research into the markets to make sure it is appropriate for that client.

One of the really interesting things that we found operating across multiple time zones is if you've got too many time zones in one PPC campaign, and that campaign is restricted by budget, then as soon as the first time zone comes online you get big spike of spend and then your money runs out. Then you've got a large chunk of prime time in a different time zone, that's not getting any exposure at all.

So you really need to consider the amount of time zones you're putting in one campaign, and that also relates to what time zone your whole account is set to. So there's really some careful consideration needed for account structure, and just your general structure overall.

PPC is always on, it's 24/7. If you have a large amount of spend in a time zone, and you have no people on the ground in that time zone, then often things - even with all of the checks and balances, and rules and alerts, and automated rules that are available now - you can sometimes run into trouble. If you've got spend that's running for any amount of time and there's nobody that is online in that location to keep a check on it. So we're very careful about how we set those campaigns up, and making sure that we use resource across multiple, different locations to monitor that activity constantly.

One of the other things with advertising internationally is of course Google doesn't always have dominance in certain markets, they have major dominance in some, so obviously we need to make sure we've got good coverage across that network. China, as example, with Google not being allowed to operate there at all, Baidu is very important. In the Russian market, Yandex is the more prominent player there. In general each region, whether it's an established or an emerging market has, has a whole range of different local networks and opportunities for paid search that, as a search agency, we make sure that we explore all of those different avenues to provide the best in-country solution for our clients.

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