Lower CPM, lower CPC, and better CTR. Sounds like every advertiser’s dream but it is a reality for advertisers that try ad localization.
Ad localization is a process to adapt the copy, design, and layout of national ads for a local audience. But it isn’t a novel idea; just one that’s seen renewed interest since Apple’s ATT update rolled out. And it will be in the limelight even more so once Google’s inevitable plan to phase out third-party cookies in 2023 comes to pass.
Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign is a brilliant example of localization. In the US, the bottles said Share a Coke with John or Sarah or Bobby. In Ireland, they chose Irish names like Aoife and Oisín. But the best example came from China where they used terms like “classmate” or “close friend” because it’s impolite to address anyone by their first name.
Applying the same principles in the digital world pays off.
Jørgen Simensen, Head of Technology and Performance at Fjuz, a full-service digital agency explains, “We know local advertising works better than centralized campaigns. We’ve run A/B tests to confirm that.”
Several brands have run localized advertisements in the past year or so and we’re going to be looking at some of them, analyzing why they worked and how you can create one of your own.
1. Wise gets local on social
Wise (formerly Transferwise) is a London-based fintech company known for the lowest fees for online money transfers. As part of their expansion in newer countries, they have been running ads on social media to engage with the local audience.
Their ads range from animated videos with localized elements to static images that contain country-specific elements or better yet, ads that have localized copy.
This LinkedIn ad from Wise drew praise for capturing the essence of Canada and using the country’s skyline to make it even more appealing.
Or this simple ad targeted at Turkey with a clear value proposition - Wise is cheaper.
Why this works: Wise is localizing their ads on multiple levels from the copy to the creative and even voiceovers. Their plan to become the preferred transfer method is bolstered by the use of local skylines and shining a light on a country’s essence.
2. H&M uses localization to promote its recycling campaign
H&M’s global Garment Collecting program rolled out in 2013. 8 years later, they’re still promoting it globally by using localized versions of the same ad.
This ad from H&M Peru to the tune “Bring it back” uses the native language in the copy and within the video.
H&M Netherlands uses the same version of the ad with changes to the copy but also runs a version where they test a different copy and the video clips are localized for the Netherlands.
Here’s Version A similar to Peru:
And here’s Version B with different copy and localized video clips:
H&M also runs two completely different versions of the ad featuring people of color (POC) in the lead. This works on two levels - representation and connecting with a different audience segment that doesn’t relate to the other versions.
Why this works: Recycling is a worthy cause and it’s easy to rally around it but a global campaign at the scale H&M is running requires a little more than just telling people to bring their clothes back. People need to see themselves in the ads. By using a diverse group and splicing video clips, the fashion brand has managed to tick off a lot of boxes. Read the Localization Playbook for advertisers: 4 powerful plays.
3. KFC’s Groups Meals campaign uses local languages
Brands always look to language when it comes to localizing their campaigns but how do you accomplish something like that in India which is home to 19,500 languages?
But KFC, one of the largest fast-food restaurant chains, has managed to pull it off. The Groups Meals campaign encourages people to order in from KFC by using localized voiceovers and changing the text in the video while the ad creative remains the same.
The Telegu version of the campaign:
And this is the Bengali version of the campaign:
In total, there are 6 different versions of the same ad targeted based on location.
Why this works: Fast-food chains only make up about 5% of India’s food services market which is a drop considered to be the 20% global average. A neat way to tap into the Indian market is to use native languages. Amazon did it when they rolled out a Hindi version of their app and now KFC is finding new audiences for their product through this campaign.
4. Local Weather Pro uses weather to encourage app downloads
What better way to promote a weather app than to use weather in the ad? Local Weather Pro uses different weather like cloudy skies or rain or sunshine to encourage people to download the app for real-time weather information.
Check out this version in Romanian:
and this one in English:
Why this works: These ads creatively use weather as an input to produce dynamic ads that get served to the right audience at the right time.
P.S. While it seems like the weather app is using videos and letting the algorithm decide which components should be put together, it’s entirely possible to connect real-time weather data to your ads and localize ad content.
5. Nike’s Always $100 and Under campaign localized for different channels
A footwear brand like Nike that has several other product lines as well end up with tens of thousands of SKUs. And marketing them is no joke.
Their Always $100 and Under campaign is a great example of how they reach a wider audience through different creatives. Few versions focus solely on the shoes while others feature a person and they’ve got diversity nailed down by using models that look like an average American.
The campaign has also been localized for different formats and platforms. The one running on Instagram asks potential shoppers to Swipe Up to shop.
While this one has a minimalist vibe:
Why this works: There’s something for everyone - ads with close-up shots of the footwear, ad layouts designed for specific platforms, and diverse models.
Mini Case Study: Delivery scaleup automates language localization to launch 5000 creatives every day
A delivery scaleup in the business of delivering groceries in 10 minutes from its dark stores had a massive problem - creating ads for 8 countries and 400 individual locations took a lot of time. Think about localizing these ads and that’s another problem.
At Hunch, we knew that creative production and workflow automation required a fully automated localized creative solution that acts as a command center. Not only did we automate language localization but we also automated campaign launches and creative production cutting back launch times from 5 days to just 2 hours!
Currently, over 5000 creatives - image and video ads - are launched every single day to produce on-brand creatives at a massive scale.
Localization is the answer to the personalization-privacy paradox but automation is crucial
Users should be in control of their data and how it’s used but here’s the thing: They don’t want to see generic ads. Personalized ads trigger an emotional response and perform better online. But without access to user data because of privacy updates, localization is the next best thing (and it might even be better.)
Data from Adcombi, a hyperlocal digital marketing agency, suggests that localizing national ads can result in a 60% increase in CTR which is almost impossible to replicate otherwise.
The only problem is brands have small teams relative to the size of the market and localizing creatives can take days of work. Even after putting in the manual work, there is no guarantee that it will work which is why experts recommend swapping out creatives and constant testing. If you do the math even for a relatively small eCommerce brand, you’ll see that it’s near impossible to do it manually. That’s why automation is the only answer.
Heiman Safeen, Lead Growth Marketer at Genero, agrees. “We’re running ads at scale with over 100 ad groups. We would not have done this type of advertising if we had to do it manually.” Read full success story.