The Who, What, When, Where and Why of International Banner Ads
localized your website for foreign markets. You’ve begun to develop your
international customer base. How can you continue to build on these efforts and
attract the right international customers to your website?
banner ads can get your message out there in the right language and with the
right cultural nuances, expanding your international brand awareness and
boosting traffic to your local websites.
how to do it: the Who, What, When, Where and Why of successful international
banner ad campaigns.
The first question to ask yourself in marketing, whether you’re selling
porcelain coffee filters, computer chips or high-level consulting services, is,
“who?” Who wants what you’ve got? In the context of international advertising,
“who” has extra layers of complexity — it’s embedded in foreign market
demographics, language and culture.
hone in on the “who” and what will effectively persuade international buyers to
visit your website and become customers, conduct some market research. Foreign
language surveys, user-experience tests and multicultural personas will help
you get a feel for your target audience in each locale.
Next decide on your international ad content and format.
memorable, eye-catching ads for the domestic market is hard enough. Add 10
disparate international audiences to the picture and you may begin to feel a
bit faint. But wait — can’t you simply translate a successful English ad for your target
Spanish, Russian and Hindi-speakers? Yes and no. What tends to make an ad
effective in English is the very thing that renders it so difficult to
translate: a combination of cultural resonance and crafty wordsmithing. If
you’ve watched a poorly translated film, you can appreciate the challenge of
effectively translating ad copy. Rhymes, jingles, slang, jokes and allusions to
popular culture and local trends make ads “sticky” and influential at home, but
irrelevant and/or ineffective when translated literally into other languages.
Simple translation will fall short of making your ad as funny, clever, or
brilliant in China as it is in the U.S.
Transcreation to the rescue. Transcreation is what enables smart
advertisers to create multilingual renditions of even the most slang-infused
English ads. Without starting completely from scratch, professional linguists
extract the core idea from the ad. Then, using their wordsmith skills and local
pop culture knowledge, they recreate the ad copy for their language market.
technique of rebuilding ads works extremely well for taglines, slogans,
catch-phrases and marketing copy in general. Not all translators are talented
transcreators, however; you’ll want to choose a language partner that
specializes in marketing translation. They should have certain processes in
place, such as the creation of a creative brief, style guide and glossary of your brand’s keywords and phrases. These
tools will be translated for each language market so your branding is always
In parallel with your copy adaption, it's a
good idea to ask your language partner to vet your graphics. If you’d prefer to reuse the same images and
artwork for each language market, you’ll need their expertise to select
globally-neutral (but not innocuous) images. As a rule of thumb, avoid
photography and illustrations with hand gestures, American cultural icons,
clichés, sports metaphors, religious symbols and other inappropriate or
culturally irrelevant images. Whenever possible, choose images that are
emotion-evoking and world-friendly, such as a smiling human face.
optimal file type and format for your particular ad campaign will depend on
your target markets, hosting websites and budget. From a simple jpg or png
image to rotating ads to rich media with embedded video and customized,
real-time headlines, you have no shortage of options. Dynamic advertising
technology and geo-location expand the creative possibilities and enable
ultra-targeted international marketing campaigns. When making these
technological decisions, consider factors such as:
- Average download speed in each locale, in
order to determine the best frame rates for animations, etc.
- Standard practices for major content and
advertising sites (some may only allow static images)
- Local search engine and browser specificities
- Local media preferences. The Chinese, for
example, are known for loving video.
you begin the creative process, involve your localization partner so you can
decide what concepts will work across your markets. Then keep these tips in
mind for a smoother localization process:
- Go micro. Prepare to target each cultural market separately; for example, don’t
assume you can bundle all Spanish audiences together, as there are many
differences even within Latin America. If your budget constraints absolutely
require you to combine markets, then make sure to develop creative that plays
to common cultural themes across the region.
- Externalize. Think international from the start as you build your artwork — this
will reduce localization costs and streamline translation processes down the
road. Concretely, ask your engineers and designers to externalize all copy in
an XML file so that it can be translated across multiple languages. This is
especially critical if you work with Flash.
- Help your language partner help you. Provide a brand style guide and a context
for understanding your products or services. This will help translators write
like your in-house marketers.
Next, consider where your ad should be positioned online for maximum impact.
Your previous market research and customer profiling will direct your ad
placement, but you can also develop and translate more specific surveys at this
stage to answer the following questions:
- Where are your potential customers spending
time in digital space?
- Which search engines are they using for
- Which online news publications and trade
journals do they read?
- What other types of products and services to
they tend to purchase?
- Are they active in social media space? If so,
what are their favorite sites?
China, domestic social media such as Sina’s Weibo and popular video sharing sites may be your best
channel for advertising whereas in Italy, mainstream, traditional media like Il Corriere della Sera could offer a better context for your target
audience. Ask your ad network or advertising agency representative for concrete
data before making these strategic decisions.
you have a list of popular content sites for your customer base in each
language market, work with your agency to determine the best
placement options for your ads, both in terms of website selection and physical
position on their webpages.
Now devise a strategy around when your ads are displayed. At what time of day
and which day of the week are your potential customers most likely to visit
your ad hosting sites?
habits are particular to each culture. Local customs around vacation time,
holidays and typical workweeks and hours are important aspects to consider. For
example, in China, the period around Chinese Lunar New Year may or may not be a
good time to advertise for your business since millions of people head home for
business hours also vary — in Austria, for example, Fridays are usually a half-day, whereas in
India, many private companies have a five-and-a-half day work week, with
Sundays off. Afternoon siesta in Spain is still respected and typical business
hours are nine o’clock a.m. to two p.m. and five o’clock p.m. to eight o’clock
traditions also influence online habits in certain countries. In Nepal,
Saturday is a day of rest and Sunday is the start of the workweek. In
Muslim-dominant countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen, the weekend
runs Thursday through Friday, a Muslim holy day.
societal norms such as school hours can affect online browsing; in France, for
example, elementary schools typically close on Wednesday but are in session
Saturday morning. If French mothers with young children are one of your target
demographics, Saturday morning may be a great time to advertise.
that the ultimate purpose of your banner ad is not just to get a great click-through
rate (CTR); it’s also (and mainly) to drive viewers to take an action on your
website. To get this right, you’ll want to design a matching landing page for
each language version of your banner ad. Give equal care to these pages when it
comes to the quality and cultural-appropriateness of the copy/graphics and
remember to keep them focused. Even the best ads in the world won’t be
effective if your landing pages fail to speak to the customer.
track your results with the help of your ad agency and language partner.
Compare your website analytics for each language to those your ad hosting sites
provide and monitor feedback from your new international customers.
that you’ve mastered the five Ws of international banner ads, contact Acclaro to learn how we can make your campaigns
resonate for customers across language markets and cultures. Plus, read up on
the latest tips and trends on international marketing and localization on our Acclaro blog.