Budget Flexibility: Accounting For Regional Differences In AdWords

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of odd spending patterns in client accounts, especially when it comes to international Google AdWords campaigns.

No, I’m not referring to mobile or enhanced campaigns — I’m talking about to a failure to account for regional differences in how online consumers search and convert.

How you approach the issue will depend upon a few different factors, but one thing holds true in all cases: when things don’t go according to plan, rigidity in the approach to budgets makes the situation much much worse.

Why AdWords Performance Deviates From Expectations

Problems often occur when businesses try to apply their existing AdWords strategy to multiple regions in different countries. I’ve come across many instances in which the campaign was set up to follow an approach used in the US, without too much research into local markets. If you don’t do extensive research, you really won’t know what the patterns mean.

I’m not necessarily suggesting that you go off and do that research right now. In fact, my advice with AdWords is to just go for it and go with the flow — just remember to expect patterns of behaviour which are considerably different to what you originally expected.

Yes, I know that Germany is the largest market in Europe (except for European Russia), and that it should be turning in larger results than the UK — in theory. In practice, however, it rarely works that way.

The two big factors impacting campaign variations across different regions are:

  1. Seasonality patterns
  2. Conversion preferences

Seasonality Patterns

Regarding seasonality patterns, the issue is that marketers have gotten so accustomed to thinking about the holiday season they’ve forgotten to account for it being different in other countries. After all, everyone does Christmas, right?

Technically, yes — Christmas is a common factor affecting the year-end season. But, the Dutch start early; the Germans celebrate slightly earlier than the US (and have a different idea about what constitutes a Christmas gift, in my experience); the Brits coincide with the US; the Spanish and Italians are a bit later; and the Russians bring in the Christmas tail a couple of weeks after everyone else. On top of that, Europeans don’t have a Thanksgiving Day in the mix.

The peak holiday season in the summer also varies significantly. You’ll not be surprised to learn that the Mediterranean countries (plus Austria) typically have longer holidays in the summer than the more northerly Europeans. The French disappear in August and even have a name for when everyone returns to work and school: la rentrée. On the other hand, Northern Europeans — the Dutch, for instance — tend to go on vacations in July and return in August.

Conversion Preferences

On conversion factors, if you’re measuring something like a CPA — which I call a “Cost Per Anglicization” — don’t forget that conversion rates naturally differ from country to country simply based on cultural and economic differences. A term that puts an American at one point in the funnel doesn’t necessarily put a French or British searcher at the same point in the funnel, and there is a relatively small likelihood that you’ll get them all in line across the board.

This discrepancy across regions can be due to issues with your site, of course — but you also have to allow for local shopping patterns, such “research and shop” as opposed to “buy online.”

So, there are many factors that can can cause your AdWords results to look weird. But, more worrying is the built-in campaign management quality factor. You’re dealing with campaigns created by humans who each have a different understanding of your messaging and value proposition, and sometimes have varied skill levels, too. I’m not necessarily saying this is a huge problem — it’s simply a fact of life you have to work with.

How To Manage Budgets To Account For Regional Differences

Budget rigidity leads to much poorer performance because of the issues mentioned above. If you have an AdWords budget set for the Netherlands and France, for instance, the holiday spend will vary across the summer, and you’ll have unspent budget in one at the same time that the other region is maxed out.

Moving Budgets Across Regions Increases ROI Source:Webcertain

Moving Budgets Across Regions Increases ROI Source:Webcertain

In an ideal world, you would set an overall global budget with targets per region. You would then let your PPC specialist allocate spend across different regions as needed based on seasonality and conversion preferences, accepting that they might not achieve exactly your target levels. It’s okay for them to “go with the flow” — just so long as they don’t overspend and use up your entire global budget too soon.

I know this is often a difficult setup when different budget owners have a vested interest — but you can reassure them that over a year, the budget targets will be more or less met, or you’ll pick up the difference from the corporate budget, perhaps. I have seen many circumstances where this flexibility has enhanced performance by anything up to 20%.

Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to tell what you’re missing in a rigid situation because you already missed the opportunity. Go on, chill out, just let things go a little and you’ll be on a roll!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | Paid Search Column | Search Marketing: Multinational

Sponsored


About The Author: is a linguist who has been specializing in international search since 1997 and is the CEO of WebCertain, the multilingual search agency and Editor-in-Chief of the blog Multilingual-Search.com. You can follow him on Twitter here @andyatkinskruge.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



SearchCap:

Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  

Share

Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • David Rothwell

    “Go with the flow” – absolutely agree!

    The strategy of allocating budgets may be fine for larger firms and corporates (I’m an ex-Corporate employee of some 25 years), but when we’re earning more than we spend (The Goal, as measurable by targeted conversion costs) then there’s no such thing as a budget any more.

    My clients would love to be able to spend more on AdWords, but they’re maxed out and buying every click they can. Their daily budgets are unlimited. (These are the only kind of Client I work with, since they know their numbers and profitability – not every business owner does, even in this day and age, shocking and depressing, but true).

    This is why we welcome new opportunities to scale from Google, by the introduction of new campaign types like Dynamic Search, Dynamic Remarketing, Remarketing Lists for Search, and new Ad Extensions to get us more eyeballs and conversion opportunities.

 

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest

 
 

Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States

Europe

Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech


Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!

 


 

Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide