How to Build International PPC Campaigns?

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Have you ever noticed those ads that pop up while you’re searching across your favourite search engine? They’re part of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns, often commonly referred to as Paid Search.

They are called Pay-Per-Click for a reason. Advertisers bid on keywords in a global auction system. When a user searches for those, or related, keywords, the position of your ad on the results page, and the cost of each click, is determined by Ad Rank (made up of a combination of factors, such as bid, relevance and landing page quality). 

Unlike some other ads which charge based on visibility via a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) model, PPC only pays when someone clicks on your ad. This makes it cost-effective because you only pay for the actual engagement.

Plus, platforms like Google Ads help you target specific audiences and demographic groups, increasing your chances of reaching relevant customers. So, with PPC, you’re not just advertising. You’re connecting with potential buyers.

On a global scale, international PPC campaigns play a central role in acquiring and converting new customers in international markets. According to Statista, companies are projected to spend $190.5 billion on search advertising globally in 2024.

It sounds both straightforward and promising. However, when expanding your campaigns to an international audience, there are important considerations that significantly influence the success of your initiatives. 

Before starting your PPC campaigns, it’s essential to understand that — as tempting as it may seem ‒ success in international PPC goes far beyond fast-paced practices with little or no planning. Duplicating campaigns and translating ads that have worked well in your current markets won’t cut it.

To achieve results in international PPC campaigns, it is essential to adopt a dedicated approach rooted in research, understand cultural differences, and implement insightful digital strategies.

What Are The Fundamentals of International PPC?

Before you start implementing your international PPC campaigns, gathering essential knowledge is important. Ideally, your starting point should be an understanding that preconceived ideas you may have about international markets probably need to be corrected.

We all have some kind of imaginary scenarios about markets we have only visited digitally (and some even personally), but these ideas can be wrong.

Start from the unknown and begin researching in detail all the aspects of the markets you intend to reach. This includes understanding cultural, linguistic, and regulatory differences in target countries compared to those you already reached.

Familiarise yourself with popular PPC platforms in different regions, such as Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, and the specific social networks of each country. And remember that these platforms have differences in usage and popularity among the various international markets. For example, whilst Google Ads has a 93% search market share in the UK, this drops significantly to 49% in the Republic of Korea, where the local language search engine Naver enjoys a 41% share of the market.

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Target The Right Channel & Audiences In International Paid Search

There are no surprises here: carefully choosing the right channel to display your PPC campaigns and precisely segmenting the target audience is fundamental to the success of any paid search campaign, especially in an international context.

The most commonly used global search engines are Google Ads and Microsoft Ads (Bing), with Microsoft Ads also allowing you to appear on AOL and Yahoo.

Outside of these, there are regional equivalents, such as Yandex, which focuses on Russian-speaking or Eastern European nations in general, and Baidu, which focuses on Chinese-speaking nations. However, due to its massive user base and effective internal advertising network, Google is by far the most popular among advertisers.

When targeting your PPC campaigns in different countries and cultures, take into account specific factors of your target audience also:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Buying behaviours
  • Geographical location

To achieve success through PPC, make the most of campaign segmentation and ensure that your ads are displayed to the most relevant audience. A local touch can always help, so take advantage of any contacts you have in the markets where you want to penetrate so you can access insider information, or potentially partner with a digital marketing agency that has these capabilities in-house.

Furthermore, avoid the temptation to think that just because two countries have the same language, they also prefer the same terminology, have the same search volume or even share the same interests. An often-used example is the difference in search terms between the UK & US. While the US mostly uses “sneakers”, the UK has higher volumes for “trainers”. 

Strategically Select Keywords For Your PPC Campaigns

One of the pillars of success is the dedicated and extensive selection of keywords that make up your international PPC campaign.

When opening your brand to new international audiences, it’s essential to choose relevant keywords for each specific market. When creating your keyword list, pay attention to the differences between linguistic nuances and specific local search trends. For instance, you might not have much success using the British term “jumper” for American audiences.

Tools like Google Keyword Planner can help you identify popular and competitive terms in different languages and regions. However, be aware of fluctuations in these types of results. 

Once again, rely on your research but also on input from entities on the ground. The more relevant your ad is and the higher the CTR you achieve, the more likely you are to appear in higher positions in the search engine results page (SERP).

As well as increasing visibility this can also have a beneficial impact on advertising costs, with Search Engine Watch finding that for the Google Display Network, every 0.1% increase in CTR resulted in a 20% decrease in CPC.

Because CTR is such an important part of Google’s Quality Score metric for all ads, the message here is clear: play by the quality control rules, and you’ll be rewarded with more, cost-effective clicks.

Create High-Quality International PPC Ad Copy

Persuasive and relevant ad copy is essential to attract clicks and generate conversions in PPC campaigns. When creating ads for different markets, you should consider the following:

  • The platform where your international PPC campaigns will be displayed 
  • Cultural preferences, languages, and purchasing habits of the target audience
  • Customising your ads for each region
  • Highlighting specific benefits that the audience is looking for
  • Using language that resonates with local users
  • Collaborating with experienced native professionals

Working with a specialised agency can make all the difference. If possible, select a digital marketing agency with experience in the types of results you want to achieve and that has access to native team members from the country you want to target. 

This type of setup facilitates seamless navigation between diverse markets and cultures, allowing a profound understanding of local customs, preferences, and consumer behaviours. 

A deep cultural insight is invaluable for effectively adapting strategies and PPC campaigns, ensuring resonance with target audiences. Additionally, an agency’s ability to easily cross-reference data from different regions allows comprehensive analysis of market trends and dynamics.

This holistic approach enables agile decision-making and quick adaptation to evolving market trends. Lastly, partnering with a multidisciplinary agency with local market expertise gives you a competitive advantage, promoting authenticity, relevance, and strategic agility of global market efforts.

Targeted Local Strategies For International PPC Management

To illustrate the importance of these concepts in action, consider the innovative approach taken by Alec Brownstein. He was a senior copywriter looking for a new job in 2009, who came up with a creative way to attract the attention of the people he most wanted to impress. 

He presumed that because most people like to search their name on Google regularly, New York’s top creative directors would, too, so he picked 5 to target with his very clever idea. He bid on their names on Google Ads, and since he was the only one bidding, he got clicks for just 13 cents each. The ads linked straight to his website.

The result? 4 of the 5 directors invited him to an interview, and 2 of those 4 offered him a job. And his entire campaign cost him a total of just $6. 

Generally speaking, localised creatives are essential for the success of your international PPC campaigns. As previously mentioned, this includes not only translating your ads and landing pages into local languages but also culturally adapting them to truly connect with the target audience.

When adapting your content for different markets, consider the importance of elements such as images, colours, symbols, and cultural references. Most importantly, avoid falling into the traps of preconceived ideas you may have about each market.

How to Overcome International PPC Campaign Challenges

Expanding your PPC campaigns to an international audience can present a series of unique challenges. However, with the right approach, these can be successfully overcome.

Cultural Sensitivity and Adaptation in International PPC Ads

A significant challenge in international PPC campaigns is tailoring ads to the target audience. According to Google, cited by Enterprise Apps Today, “80% of consumers want ads customised to the city, postcode, and surroundings”. This requires an in-depth understanding of cultural norms, values, and sensitivities in each specific market. Avoid using language or images that may be misinterpreted in different cultures.

Again, it’s a good idea to collaborate with experienced professionals. Native content creators have an innate understanding of cultural nuances, idiomatic expressions, and contextual relevance that automated systems cannot accurately replicate.

This authenticity resonates deeply with target audiences, promoting trust and engagement in a way that generic or machine-generated content cannot achieve.

Local content producers navigate linguistic subtleties, ensuring that messages are not only linguistically accurate but also culturally appropriate. This process ensures responsiveness to evolving trends and cultural changes, allowing campaigns to remain relevant and impactful over time.

This is especially important for paid search campaigns, where strict character limits mean you need to ensure your message comes across clearly & succinctly. 

While AI undoubtedly offers valuable tools for data analysis and optimisation, it takes a human skill set to elevate PPC campaigns to their highest potential, forging genuine connections with diverse audiences across borders.

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Regulatory Compliance And Legal Considerations

When running PPC campaigns internationally, it’s essential to be aware of the different advertising regulations and laws of each country. Pay attention to issues such as advertising restrictions, data protection laws, copyright, and competition laws. Stay updated on local regulations, and be sure to adjust your international PPC campaigns accordingly to ensure full legitimacy and compliance.

Keep an eye on digital taxes as well. In November 2020, many advertisers like Google introduced a new digital tax. This means that, depending on the country your PPC ads are running in, Google would add an extra charge on top of the budget you’re putting into your advertising account, passing the cost directly onto advertisers.

Currency And Payment Methods In International PPC Services

Another important aspect to consider in international PPC campaigns is the issue of local currencies and popular payment methods. Make sure to offer payment options onsite that are convenient and familiar to your customers in each region. 

For instance, payment preferences across Europe, the United States, and South America vary widely. In Europe, chip and PIN cards are prevalent, with contactless payments and online banking transfers also popular, while some countries like Sweden trend towards cashless societies.

In the United States, credit cards dominate, alongside growing adoption of digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. South America’s payment landscape is diverse, with cash still widely used in countries like Argentina, but digital payment methods gaining ground, such as electronic payments in many of them and mobile payment apps in Brazil, Chile or Colombia. 

Moreover, it is important to present your product or service prices in the local currency, to avoid confusion and facilitate purchasing.

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Strategies For Success With International PPC Campaigns

According to Hubspot, the top 3 paid ad spots get 46% of the clicks on the page, with 89% of the traffic generated by Google Ads not replaced by organic clicks when ads are paused.

Understanding the challenges and nuances of international PPC campaigns is just the first step to the success of your campaigns. To ensure long-term sustainability, solid and adaptable strategies need to be implemented.

Market Research And Target Audience Analysis For Affordable PPC Campaigns

A study from Statista revealed that as of October 2023, the global internet user count reached 5.3 billion, representing 66% of the world’s population. Of these, 4.95 billion individuals, accounting for 61% of the global population, were also active social media users.

Most of these people actively engage on social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, with a heightened presence amongst younger demographics. 

Leverage the support of a multicultural and multidisciplinary team for comprehensive market research. By bringing together talents from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, you’ll be positioned to offer a comprehensive understanding of cultural nuances, consumer behaviours, and market trends in different regions.

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A/B Testing And Experimentation

Once you’ve set up your campaigns for success, the most important part of ongoing paid search maintenance is having a clearly defined test and learn strategy. Testing different variations of ads, keywords, and landing pages is fundamental for optimising the performance of international PPC campaigns.

Conduct A/B tests to compare different elements, such as ad headlines, calls to action, and images, and determine which variation produces the best results. Additionally, regularly try out new bidding strategies and targeting approaches to continue innovating and improving your campaigns over time.

Automation is becoming more of a focus for the main paid search platforms, with companies like Google frequently introducing new ad automation tools to streamline the advertising process on their platform. This involves setting up precise conversion tracking, crafting compelling ad copy, and accurately identifying target audiences and keywords.

You can automate various aspects of PPC campaigns, such as bidding, A/B Testing, ads optimisation, and reporting. Whilst it’s more efficient to leave certain tasks to be handled through automations, it’s vital to ensure you are feeding the algorithm with the best data available to help distinguish yourself from competitors.

Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are additional pieces of information that advertisers can include in their ads to provide more context and incentives to potential customers, and allow you to capture a larger ad space on the SERP.

Extensions such as site links, callouts, and structured snippets can enhance ad visibility and provide users with valuable information, increasing the likelihood of engagement.

By utilising ad extensions strategically, businesses can make their ads more informative and compelling, ultimately driving higher click-through rates and conversion rates.

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Continuous Monitoring And Optimisation In International PPC Services

Constant monitoring and regular optimisation are essential for maximising the performance of international PPC campaigns. Closely monitor key performance indicators, such as:

  • CTR (Click-Through Rate)
  • CPA (Cost-Per-Acquisition)
  • ROI (Return on Investment)

Clear reporting and data analysis is vital here to ensure you are making data-driven decisions across all your marketing campaigns. 

Final Thoughts On Mastering International PPC Campaigns for Global Success

In summary, creating successful international PPC campaigns requires a combination of understanding PPC fundamentals, cultural adaptation, segmentation strategies, and continuous optimisation.

  1. Reject preconceived ideas.
  2. Understand the nuances of each target market.
  3. Personalise your messages.
  4. Be open to experimentation.
  5. Closely monitor the performance of your campaigns.
  6. Continue to adjust your strategies as needed to remain competitive.
  7. Repeat.

With dedication, research, and a strategic approach, you can create irresistible international PPC campaigns that drive business growth and success. 

About GA Agency

GA Agency is an independent, award-winning, full-service digital agency specialising in international growth. Our in-house team covers 17 languages, offering global market coverage. We work as a strategic partner with FTSE 500 companies and upcoming start-ups that need our partnership to boost their growth, and we’ve been expanding into the Fintech industry.

We have a competitive edge over other agencies due to our growing international and multilingual team, making us the perfect partner not just for your digital marketing strategy, but for international growth.

We are active with projects in more than 26 countries, and our Paid Media team can take your business to the next level. Contact us to find out how we can improve your marketing strategies and grow your business further.

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