Going Global Means Getting Local

Online advertising is one of the few industries growing in the US amid these lean economic times. Here in the US the market is so dynamic that we can get myopic, and must sometimes be reminded that there's a very big world out there. The industry is also growing worldwide, and brand advertisers everywhere are primed to spread their message to a global market and capitalize on increased inventory and the ease with which they can target internationally.

But there are complications. According to the findings of a recent Econsultancy study commissioned by the Rubicon Project, the role of DSPs is much greater in the North American than in Europe. As reported in MediaPost, "Half of all online display ad buys placed by American companies are now made through a DSP vs. only 27 percent in Europe." Any DSP, trading desk, or exchange that wants to operate in a real-time bidding environment in the future will need to consider two major challenges: language and privacy concerns.


Every real-time bidding platform that wants to attract advertisers and effectively reach international audiences needs to understand the nuances of several languages. College kids and American tourists can stumble through Europe with a rudimentary vocabulary, but ad technologies need to be fluent in multi-languages if they want to deliver results. Clearly it's time to stash away that pocket dictionary and get deep into local markets.

Numerous studies show that contextually relevant advertising delivers improved performance, largely because it's tied into the consumer's interests. So, with limited BT inventory available in Europe (more about that later), advertisers will look for methods to grow their businesses using alternative technologies. Run-of-the-mill ROS inventory isn't going to cut it - they need something better to drive the message home. In this case, it's very likely that advertisers will turn to contextual and semantic targeting firms, and that's where language comes into play.


New EU Privacy laws and the Electronic Communications Directive will require anyone using a cookie to request consumer consent before deploying info-gathering cookies for interest based-targeting. We will see how this plays out, but the expectation is that these rules will restrict the amount of inventory available for behavioral targeting.

Vigilant privacy concerns are at the root of these strict regulations. But targeting based on the language on the page rather than consumer browsing history, avoids the privacy issue altogether. Contextual targeting is the most consumer-friendly method of online targeting. When ads resonate with the context of the page, brands can deliver a clean, relevant advertising experience that won't infringe on a consumer's privacy.

The Future

As advertisers continue to explore international waters, language will become even more important to the future of media buying. And when you factor in the strict privacy regulations of the European Union, language is a wrinkle that many advertisers will be dealing with for years to come. There's an old joke linguists like to tell: speak two languages, you're bilingual; speak one, you're American. In the near future, ad tech won't have the luxury of speaking one language only.

Expanding to international audiences is a crucial aspect to future of online advertising. The inability to adapt to international laws and privacy concerns or to get local by targeting in numerous languages will spell doom for many in the space. But for those companies that can stay ahead of the curve, the future is bright, and profitable, indeed.

Andy Ellenthal, CEO, Peer39

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