How to approach global video advertising

A guide to getting your video ad seen and acted on in new global markets

How to approach global video advertising

1 Overview

The challenge

Creating a successful AdWords video campaign so that potential customers in new global markets can find out about your product or service means you have to understand the cultural factors and user behaviours in play. And, it’s about more than having it in the right language (though that’s essential too).

Your aim

To understand each new market’s culture and customs and what factors motivate purchase there.

How to go about it

Video campaigns let you show video ads on their own or within other streaming video content on YouTube and across the Google Display Network. The stats give pretty compelling reasons to invest:

  • YouTube has over a billion users – almost a third of all people on the Internet – and everyday, people watch hundreds of millions of hours of YouTube videos and generate billions of views

  • YouTube overall, and even YouTube on mobile alone, reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.

  • More than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices

  • YouTube has launched local versions in more than 88 countries, in a total of 76 different languages (covering 95% of the Internet population)1

  • The Display Network reaches over 90% of Internet users worldwide through 2 million sites and apps2

So wherever your new markets are, you can wow them with video.

2 Research and localise

Market Finder should be your first port of call to find the potential global markets that are a fit for your business. So, you’re off to a flying start, knowing your business can compete there. Now,

Going global is all about acting local

Localisation extends the ROI of your video ad as understanding the nuances of the language, culture, and values ensures your video ad will resonate with your audience. So, at pre-production, it pays to invest in a professional script translation — armed with the relevant search terms from the Google AdWords Keyword Planner — to capture an easy colloquial voice. This side-steps the embarrassing possibilities of jarring, offensive, or uncomfortable wording. It also allows you to think through the subject matter, sentence structure, and speed of the spoken language. It’s always best to provide unique content for each country. And remember to allow for localisation costs in your initial budget.

3 Consider the practicalities

There are a number of practicalities to consider as you plan your global video strategy:

Red tape

One crucial pre-production task in a new market is to understand the legal aspects of what you can and can’t say, do and show, and any timing restrictions that might apply. This saves the waste of producing video which can’t be shown.

Subs, dubs or VOs?


Many localised video ads use dubbing — translation of the original dialogue synched to the lip movements of the actors — for its immediacy, and the flexibility it gives to the wording and intonation


On the other hand, subtitles extend your audience to other countries, and also to the hard of hearing. (Just remember, the on-screen speaking must be slow enough for subtitles to keep up.) A measurable benefit of subtitling is that YouTube captions are indexed by the search engines, immediately building your video’s visibility

Voice over

Off-camera voice over in the target language means you don’t have to lip synch. It’s why it pays to have done your localisation work pre-production as preparing the script in the local language means you can calculate exact script timing and the VO artist can speak at the right pace, with no long silences or, perhaps worse, speech rushed to fit. For instance, speaking Spanish, German or French will usually mean a longer script in comparison to English, while most Asian languages will mean a substantially shorter script than when translated from English

A mix

Can you afford to budget for a mix of dubbing, subtitling or VO? If you can, it gives consumers the choice of how they view, making it more widely accessible still


If you don’t want the added expense of localisation costs when testing a new market, think global. Animation offers a perfect medium, as does a video that doesn’t require on-screen speech to communicate its message. Off-screen voice over offers the most creative possibilities.


YouTube Director is a free app that helps you easily make video to connect with customers on YouTube. It contains over one hundred templates that walk you step-by-step through the creation of your video.


Which video format will work best to deliver your message?

  • TrueView in-stream ads run before, during or after other videos on YouTube or across Display Network sites, games or apps. These ads may also run on YouTube videos that are embedded on other sites. After five seconds, the viewer has the option to skip the ad

  • TrueView video discovery ads reach people in places where they’re discovering content. The appearance will vary, depending on the ad sizes and ad formats that content publishers support. When a viewer clicks the thumbnail for your ad, the video will play on its YouTube watch or channel page

  • Bumper ads are a short video ad format, designed to allow you to reach customers broadly and increase awareness about your brand by using a short, memorable message. Bumper ads are just six seconds or less, and viewers can’t skip the ad

Find out more about video ad formats

Other helpful links

4 Target practice

By targeting your global video ads on YouTube and the Display Network, you can advertise to consumers in the countries you want at the moments that matter. It's important to know that with each targeting method you add, you narrow – not widen – your targeting. But, remember, your aim is always to optimise the quality and relevance of your audience, even if that means a decrease in quantity. Here are the targeting methods that you can use.

Demographic groups

Choose the age, gender, parental status or household income of the audience you want to reach


Pick from available audience categories to reach people interested in certain topics, even when they may be visiting pages about other topics. Find out more about audiences.

  • Affinity audiences: Raise brand awareness and drive consideration by reaching people who already have a strong interest in relevant topics

  • Custom affinity audiences: With custom affinity audiences, you can create audiences that are more tailored to your brands. For example, rather than reaching sports fans, a running shoe company may want to reach avid marathon runners

  • In-market audiences: Select from these audiences to find customers who are researching products and actively considering buying a service or product like yours


Target unique channels, videos, apps, websites or placements within websites. For example, you can target an entire high-traffic blog or just the homepage of a popular news site. Placements include:

  • YouTube channels
  • YouTube videos
  • Websites on the Display Network
  • Apps on the Display Network

Note: When you add Display Network placements, your ad may still run in all eligible locations on YouTube. When you add YouTube placements, your ad may still run in all eligible locations across the Display Network.


Topic targeting lets you reach a broad range of videos, channels and websites related to the topics you select. For example, target ‘Automotive’ and your ad will show on YouTube to people watching videos about cars.


Depending on your video ad format, you can show your video ads based on words or phrases – keywords – related to a YouTube video, YouTube channel or type of website that your audience is interested in

Video remarketing

Reach viewers based on their past interactions with your videos, TrueView ads or YouTube channel. If you've linked your YouTube account to your AdWords account already, we'll create custom lists for you automatically. Learn more about remarketing lists for YouTube viewers.