How to reach the right audience with Display advertising

Reaching the right audience with a suitable display advertising strategy

1 Overview

The challenge

The success of display advertising — anywhere in the world — relies on targeting the right audience with the right message.

Your aim

To research and incorporate how your display advertising strategy needs to change in order to find the right audience and message for each new country you expand into.

How to go about it

Google Ads has two main networks: Search and Display. The Search Network reaches people when they’re already searching for specific goods or services they want to buy. 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 is designed to help you find the right audience across millions of websites globally. It lets you be strategic and put your message in front of potential customers at the right place and right time.

This guide highlights what you need to consider when you are planning a Display campaign to reach a new audience in a new country.

2 Research and planning

It pays dividends to allocate time to research and understand in-depth exactly who your buyer is, in any country. Everything else, from targeting to ad creation, is based on that knowledge.

Do your research

Find a country with an audience that doesn’t just look the same, but acts the same too. Remember that a product that’s popular at home might not reach those same stratospheric heights elsewhere. Take into account cultural and geographic differences such as socio-economy, climate and seasonality, politics, even history. For instance, say you are looking for countries with high dog ownership in which to sell your all-weather dog-walking accessories; leads, collars, harnesses, coats, fleeces etc. However, high dog ownership figures alone won’t tell you whether this is a country that likes to walk its dogs. It might be a country in which they are regarded as fashion accessories to be carried round in handbags, or are not thought of as pets, so much as hard-working animals. In neither of these scenarios would you sell many of your products.

Plan your campaign

Begin to plan your international display ad campaign well in advance, particularly as you determine the logistics involved, and may need to allow for professional translation time too.

Your considerations:

  • What do you want to achieve?
    • Sell more products or services?
    • Build customer loyalty?
    • Engage with customers?
    • Increase brand awareness?
  • What do you want to say?
  • Are you offering a deal or discount?
  • How should your ads look? Allow for language differences. What’s one length in English may be longer or shorter in another language.

  • Which payment methods are preferred in your target markets?

  • What are the technical requirements? Preferred equipment, infrastructure, file sizes, video quality and banner dimensions will all vary depending on country.

  • What are the production lead times? These will vary from country to country, so be sure you know.

Reach the right audience

Google Ads location targeting allows your ads to appear in the geographic locations you choose: countries, areas within a country, a radius around a location, or location groups. It helps you focus your advertising on the areas where you'll find the right customers, and restrict it in areas where you won't. Once you’ve found your perfect audience, it’s time to consider how you want to reach them.

By keywords

Always localise and make sure your keywords are colloquial to your market and take into account differences in dialect, such as between European and Latin American Spanish. So, for example, if you sell dog-walking accessories, you’d add keywords (in the relevant language) around that topic. Then, Google Ads would find both websites that include your keywords, as well as relevant audiences who are interested in those keywords.

Over time, you may also consider hiring professional translation services, even a good local agency to help you dig deeper and find more keywords.

It’s a good idea to pick keywords that are relevant to an entire ad group and not just a single ad. To find you an audience who’s interested in your business and more likely to take action, Google Ads uses contextual targeting. Consider adding English as an additional language to target in order to increase your reach in the country you're advertising in.

By placements

Within the Display Network, you can select types of pages or specific websites for your ads, as well as audiences to show your ads to. With these manual placements, you can show your ad on specific web pages, online videos, games, RSS feeds and mobile sites and apps that you select. You can even block your ads from websites that you don't think are relevant.

By audience

Here are the ways you can target your ads to reach specific groups of people:


Depending on your advertising goals, you can choose the audience that best matches your customers.

  • To drive brand awareness, use affinity audiences to reach broad TV-like audiences
  • To reach as many potential customers as possible with an affinity for a specific product area, use custom affinity audiences
  • To reach specific audiences actively shopping for a product or service, use in-market audiences instead

You can also use keywords to reach audiences researching products or services like yours. Audience keywords allow your ads to reach people likely to be interested in certain terms, based on their current and past browsing behavior.


This option can help you reach people who have previously visited your website while they visit other sites on the Google Display Network. You’ll find remarketing alongside interest categories in your account.


This option allows you to reach people who are likely to be within the age, gender, and parental status demographic group that you choose. With audiences, you don't manually select places to show your ads. In this case, the sites or apps where your ads appear based on these methods are labelled ‘automatic placements’ in your statistics table on the Placements tab.

Consider your competition

Understand who your competition is in your new market, and what they’re doing. This can help you determine how to pitch your display advertising, decide on your reach, frequency, and CPM costs. It pays dividends to have realistic expectations on what to expect for each new market you enter.