Translating any manner of print ad from English into another language is a pretty straightforward task. You simply hire a translator to work with your campaign manager to change the copy.
But online Web ads are a wholly different case. Copywriters and translators come face-to-face with the unique and often unforeseen quirks of the Internet – so it’s best to know them now before you start the work.
Size Restrictions vs. Foreign Word Length
Let’s begin with your Web ad’s size and shape. You’ll have a maximum length and number of lines to adhere to. The original ad’s title and copy in English was fine, but now you have to translate it to the other language. Just because you managed to craft a cool Spanish translation of your original ad doesn’t mean it will fit into your ad’s 25-character limit.
When this happens, your translator has to help you get creative. He has to be smart enough to learn what your business is all about, who your marketing campaign is targeting, and why. And your translator has to be really fluent in the other language and a particular country’s culture, including current slang. For instance, if you’re selling Alaskan holiday trips to potential customers in Spain, your translator should be familiar enough with the culture of Spain to suggest re-titling your June to August ads from “holiday vacations” to “veraneo”, a catchy word that’s much shorter which specifically means “summer holidays” – and a more appealing prospect to Spaniards who habitually escape to cooler climates during the height of Spain’s heated summer.
You paid to get the right keywords in your ad’s text, but that was when the ad was in English. When translating Web ad copy into another language, you also need to consider what keywords in that language ought to be incorporated into the new text. You may have to re-bid for new keywords in the new language with your chosen online advertising system. The literal translation of your English keywords aren’t always the same words people of another language think of when they begin searching Google for your type of product or service. Your translator should at least have an idea what those keywords are, or can help you go through Google Trends to scope them out (in that language).
If you’re on a tighter budget, note that some advertising systems also offer a “keyword tool” (in languages other than English) that can suggest synonyms for you to bid on at a cheaper rate. Ask your translator to advise you if these possible new keywords are feasible, based on the new language’s usage in real life.
Varying Search Grammar Styles
There are also subtle differences in language habits across different cultures, and it shows up in how people type keywords in search engines. You would have to tailor your chosen list of keywords to these habits. Your translator should be able to help you distinguish what these are for your new target market.
Americans, for instance, would use the phrases “for hire” and “for rent” when looking for moving vans. The French, on the other hand, might type in “appartements de vacances” (literally “apartments for vacation”). And the British, who speak English, will be more specific; the words “rent” and “to let” are associated with apartments, and the phrase “for hire” would be used more for vehicles or security detail.
Ask your translator, too, if Internet users of that particular culture might be in the habit of omitting articles like “of” or “in” out of certain phrases, or if they might type in keywords in their plural form. An Australian, for instance, might simply search for “car rental”, but a Mexican might be more likely to type “alquiler de coches”, which not only uses “de” (of) but the plural “coches” (cars).
Translating online ads is painstaking work, no doubt. But it’s worth the effort to make sure you translate it right the first time, so that it translates to added sales in the soonest time possible!