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Paid Search Marketing

How to manage international paid search marketing in 2016

The UK has led the way for a while now in terms of per capita spending online. Last year Brits spent an average of £1,174 each, making 21.2 purchases and spending an average of £55.36 on each one. This was the highest per capita spend in the world but with global sales hitting £1.18 trillion in 2015, it’s still a drop in the e-commerce ocean.

If you want to take advantage of this global e-commerce market there are a number of ways to do so. Localisation and organic SEO will pay off in the long run but it can take time to build your presence this way. Paid search marketing (also known as pay-per-click or PPC) can offer instant results and provide you with a quick entryway into the market from which you can continue to build your brand.

Keywords and copy

The whole concept of pay-per-click advertising is based on keywords, the theory being that your ad shows up whenever someone types the relevant search term into their search engine. In practise practice, bids and competitors come in to play when working out whose ad is actually shown. Audience targeting using historical and behavioural data is also coming increasingly to the fore but for now the matching of keywords to ads remains the most important factor.

If you are adapting an existing domestic campaign for an overseas market it may be tempting to think you can simply translate your existing keywords. This is not always the case however and colloquialisms, acronyms, brand names or other alternative search terms could well be more effective keywords in different territories. It’s essential to conduct thorough keyword research in each language and individual market.

The same goes for your copy. It can be difficult enough to create compelling copy in your home language given the format and limited space. Any translation of copy should be done professionally and transcreation – retaining the tone and message but adapting the language to suit the culture and audience – is often the better solution.

Go beyond Google

Google is by far the biggest and most important search engine and Google’s AdWords also has the highest market share in the PCC market. The Microsoft and Yahoo! Alliance of Bing Ads has been gaining yearly but still only enjoys around a quarter share. In overseas territories however, you might also want to consider local search engines that don’t always mean a whole lot outside their home markets but are massive within them.

China is the most notable exception to Google’s worldwide dominance. Baidu is the top search engine with a market share of 55%. It’s followed by Qihoo 360 (formerly branded as 360 Search) with a 28% share and Sogou with 12.8%. The sheer numbers involved mean all three should be taken into account when launching paid search campaigns in China.

Yandex is the market leader in Russia, accounting for 58% of searched compared to the 34% of second placed Google. Naver rules the roost in South Korea (77%) with Daum coming second, while Google does hold the top spot in Japan with a market share of 57% but is closely followed by Yahoo Japan on 40%. Even in territories where Google is dominant, local competitors that enjoy a significant market share could still offer effective and often cheaper alternatives.

Optimising for mobile

More searches now take place on mobile devices than on laptops and desktop computers. It therefore makes sense to tailor your campaign to mobile viewers and that means optimising your site to provide the best possible experience for mobile visitors. Recent-ish changes to Google’s algorithms mean that sites that are not optimised will be effectively penalised in mobile search results and mobile internet users are becoming increasingly demanding and sophisticated. If they click on your ad and come through to a site that fails to load or display properly, they are unlikely to make a purchase. They are far more likely, in fact to abandon the site and not come back.

It isn’t only in developed nations where optimising for mobile is important. Consumers in markets like the US and UK are likely to have both static and mobile internet options while mobiles are often the only source of the internet in developing markets.

Adapting paid search marketing campaigns for overseas audiences can be demanding but they can also be the perfect way to break into a new market or improve your brand recognition and market share within them.

*Photo credits: Alex Mit /

Christian Arno, Founder and President, Lingo24

Christian Arno is Founder and President of Lingo24. He started the company in 2001 after graduating from Oxford University with a degree in languages. He has won numerous awards including HSBC Business Thinking and International Trade Awards (2010), and TAUS Excellence Award (2012) for innovative technology. He contributes to leading industry publications and has been featured on the BBC, in the Financial Times and other media around the world.

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