How to approach an international Google Ads campaign

A guide to making Google Ads work in overseas markets

1 Overview

The challenge

Expand globally and you’ll almost certainly have to run Google Ads campaigns in overseas markets where English isn’t the first language.

Your aim

To maximise your online exposure in new international markets, optimise sales, and motivate users to return for more.

How to go about it

With Google Ads you reach potential overseas customers when they're in a purchasing mindset. You see how many people are shown your ads, visit your website, or call your business. You can even target specific sub-sections of people.

Once you’ve found what’s working and what’s not, you can tweak your ads and test your changes to see if they work better.

And you only pay for results. So, if a customer doesn’t click on your ad or take action from it, you don’t pay anything. Signing up for Google Ads is free. And, you set your own budget, so your costs will depend on what you are trying to accomplish with your advertising.

2 Discover your opportunities abroad

Once Market Finder has helped you find potential overseas markets, it’s time to identify and attract your target audiences. Knowing them helps you tailor your global Google Ads campaigns to work across Search, Display and Video, so your campaigns will connect with the right audience at the right time.

Insights from your own site and accounts:

Understand how you might connect with users based on what you’ve already done

Take cultural differences into account and localise your keywords, ads and landing pages

Invest in professional translation services to make sure your campaign reads like a local. But, translating to a new language isn’t enough. The customer journey varies by market, and your ads should adjust accordingly. Develop your strategies to align with how your potential customers search. Their behaviour will dictate how they connect with your brand, and you want to have the right content in place to capitalise on that.

Keep an eye out for cultural nuances

Things like symbols, colours and images on your site may need to vary. Think about your calls-to-action. For example, be more deferential in countries where politeness is prized. Even the medium that you use to connect with users can be modified by the market. What’s great video content in one location might be better as an image ad elsewhere. The preferred web browser of one market might affect how your landing pages are rendered. Consider average broadband speeds and design a site that will upload quickly anywhere.

Market Finder tools and guides can help

General marketing trends: Understand how different markets behave online and how that fits in with what you want to achieve and what you can realistically accomplish. Market Finder will help you discover how people use the internet around the world, and create customised analyses of online access and device usage in the countries you’re targeting. You can take a close look at metrics like online purchase behaviour, purchase breakdown by product, use of smartphones in online purchase, and much, much more.

Display Benchmarks: Want to understand how your Display campaigns compare to the rest of the industry? Or how different ad formats and sizes perform compared to each other? This tool lets you pull up-to-date industry benchmarks to help you better plan and measure the success of your Display campaigns.

Market Finder Guides

3 Get your Google Ads campaign up and running

Decide on your international campaign goals

What do you want to achieve?

  • Sell more products or services?
  • Build customer loyalty?
  • Engage with customers?
  • Increase brand awareness?

Search or Display?

The Google Ads has two main networks: Search and Display. The Search Network reaches people when they’re already searching for specific goods or services. The Display Network helps you capture someone's attention earlier in the buying cycle, with a variety of ad formats across the digital universe. This network spans over two million websites reaching over 90% of people on the Internet. It’s designed to help you find the right audience across millions of websites globally.

Pick and stick to an account structure

Reaching new countries makes your accounts more complex, but you can manage that through your account structure. Whichever you decide on, commit to it as consistency gives you a strong foundation for control and specialisation, and allows for better reporting, budgeting, automation and account management — however many campaigns you have in your manager account.

There isn’t one right way to structure your account, but there are three approaches we see most often:

  • One CID (customer ID) for each country and language. Products live within campaigns.
  • One CID for each country and product. Languages live within campaigns.
  • One CID for each language. Products and countries live within campaigns.

There are pros and cons to each. One CID per language might be easier to manage, but make it more difficult to manage budgets at a product line level. One CID for each country and product may allow for prioritisation and optimisation of top markets, but it’s a lot more to manage.

If you start by knowing your management limitations and preferences, you can identify the right approach for you. Think about things like your internal structure and how it would align to your campaigns. How’s your team organised, and how can Google Ads best match up to that? How are your budgets handled — across teams, products or countries?

4 Enhance and improve how your campaign responds


Once you have a larger international expansion strategy in place, you’ll need to reflect that within Google Ads. Start with what’s already working. Although no two markets are the same, replicating your home campaign structure and tactics can help you gauge how new markets respond comparatively. But user value, competition and costs of goods sold can all vary, so take this into account when setting performance targets. Regularly test so you’re ready to change course as performance dictates (see 'Automation' below). And remember, while it’s good to keep a stable goal, it’s fine to revise your performance targets in response to results.

Naming conventions

Even if your naming feels simple as you expand to one or two countries, it gets trickier the more you expand. So, across campaigns, ad groups and labels, use a consistent naming system. Come up with standard abbreviations and inclusions in names. Things like country, language and targeting method should be in your labels wherever possible.


The more you expand, the more you and your team need to manage. Google automated tools can also help. A consistently organised account will also help you take better advantage of tools like these as, once you put the framework in place, many day-to-day optimisations are taken off your plate.

For instance:

  • Automated bidding gives better, more informed bids and time-saving.
  • Ad customisers adapt your text ads to what someone is searching for, on which device, in which location, or even the date, time of day, or day of the week. They can insert a price, the time left before a sale ends, and any other text that you define.

Automation can help you test new markets. Testing is key to see what best works in your new market. Again, Google has automated tools to help.


Use the shared library to create negative keyword lists, create extensions and ads — then share across campaigns.


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