New Rules of the Road for Global Online Marketing Campaigns


New Rules of the Road for Global Online Marketing Campaigns – March 30, 2011

News flash. Online ads in India perform better when written in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and other regional languages compared to English creatives! Apparently these localized ads attract more internet users, according to a survey by Ozone Media and reported in the Economic Times.

If that wasn't surprising enough, the study also found that resident Indians respond to regional language ads 30% more compared to English ads.

Pardon the tongue-in-check tone, but what is really surprising is that companies seeking to go global must learn the same lessons over and over again, with each new generation of technology. The absolute necessity of translating anything marketing related - or customer facing as well - into a local language complete with local expressions, culturally-sensitive images, along with a grasp of the region’s history, manners and attitudes has been long established. All that remains is learning what these habits are and tapping the correct resources to execute the campaign according to local custom. Which in itself is hardly an easy feat, of course.

To be fair, new technology - a category that does include online marketing - requires a review of the basics so they can be adopted to these new-to-the-scene tools and practices. Consider the following:

1. That rant at the beginning of the article about the need for localization? It is not always an absolute. Ozone Media found that in the matrimony category, for example, non resident Indians respond better to regional language ads whereas resident Indians respond better to English creatives.

Across the world in Latin America, there are other considerations, such as whether to use universal or local Spanish in an online ad, writes Small Biz Trends. It is not an inconsequential decision, according to book author Joe Kutchera, who wrote "Latino Link: Building Brands Online With Hispanic Communities and Content", as an imbalance in Internet infrastructure investment has inadvertently created a pan-regional effect for Latinos online consumers.

"Spain invested $960 million in online advertising. For U.S. Latinos or Mexicans online, it means when they search in Spanish, many sites from Spain appear in their results. Spain invests four or five times more in content than other Spanish-language markets."

2. If you are going to do business with a US company in a foreign market because you feel more comfortable, at least investigate to make sure it is following local practices.

You would be surprised. Until a short while ago DoubleClick in Google was following some distinctly US-based practices that did not do well in the market, according to an Investors Business Daily article that ran in January 2011. It was only then that Google began stepping up its efforts, establishing local R&D centers, launching free strategies, and strengthening business localization. Up until that point DoubleClick has been using a CPM revenue model, even though local preference was for CPT or Cost Per Time. Driving that change, the paper said, was DoubleClick’s first and only foreign-based R&D center, in Shanghai.

3. The quality of local SEO varies tremendously. Adapt your strategies - and budget - accordingly.

In France and Spain the relatively quality of SEO is lower compared to other countries, says WebCertain chief executive Andy Atkins-Kruger (via Retail Week). Therefore a company could find it easier and cheaper to implement a multilingual SEO strategy. For Denmark or Germany, by contrast, a localized website and country-specific SEO strategy is essential due to the high level of ecommerce saturation and the high quality of local SEO.

4. Don't rely completely or even mainly on machine translation - even for simple SEO words.

For example, a mobile phone maker eager to break into China might consider translating English search terms to plug into a Chinese campaign, not realizing that the highest volume searches for cell phones in China come from a slang term, not the direct translation of cell phone, writes Elizabeth Elting for Business Insider. There are a myriad number of ways a mistranslation can occur - a photo or creative for a campaign that is suddenly confusing because of a mistranslated word. The difference doesn’t even have to be significant - the translation could be literally correct but the subtleties still lost.

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