If you haven’t already seen the latest numbers: Statistics Canada reports 1 in 5 Canadians were not born in Canada and MediaCom Canada predicts that approximately one-third of Canada’s population will be a visible minority by 2031. Given widespread access to internet, it makes perfect sense then that first-generation immigrants would use digital media including social media, youtube and even Search to maintain connection with their roots.
So how do advertising platforms address language targeting? Most media companies show ads based on the user’s browser language interface. For example, someone located in Canada using Google Canada français is using the French Quebec language interface on Google Search (and for the most part should see French ads) and someone using Google Spain is on a Spanish interface (and mostly seeing Spanish language ads) even though they may be physically located in Canada.
An advertiser must set language and location parameters within campaign settings to control where ads will be seen. For example, a Canadian business that sells machines in Latin America would likely target people located in those countries, using Spanish language interfaces, serving them Spanish ads that are triggered by Spanish keyword searches. But it’s unfortunately not that simple; there are many different combinations of settings that can be used when it comes to where your ads show up. It is possible, for instance, to have an English ad that is triggered by an English keyword search from any language interface including Arabic, Chinese, etc. It does get complicated.
In some parts of the country, understanding the subtleties of language targeting is that much more important given that language politics can also come into play. In Quebec, even though much of the population uses English or French interfaces interchangeably I have seen my share of incidents where English ads have inadvertently made their way onto a French browser and resulted in a formal complaint.
At 20eight we are of course perfectly bilingual and understand all the subtleties of language targeting for our Canadian clients. And we are introducing a third language proficiency in January – Spanish! Stay tuned.