International PPC campaigns help you attract global market share with strategies like localization, geotargeting, and in-depth audience research. This guide will walk you through the process of setting up, launching, and managing global PPC campaigns for maximum reach.

Here, you’ll find 8 steps to build an international PPC campaign:

  1. Identify your target international markets
  2. Conduct international keyword research
  3. Assess your budget and CPC
  4. Refine your geographic targeting
  5. Consider time zones and seasonality
  6. Create and localize your international PPC ads
  7. Build compelling landing pages
  8. Monitor and optimize performance

If you have a successful PPC campaign in your local market, why not expand your reach to international markets? A global PPC campaign is your ticket to connect with international audiences and diverse cultures.

To give you a complete overview of international PPC, we talked with Sam Yadegar, CEO of top-3% digital marketing agency HawkSEM. Here, we cover common campaign structures, budget considerations, audience targeting, and how to set-up and manage a profitable global PPC marketing strategy.

Ready to launch your ad campaigns for world-class conversions? Keep reading.

What is international PPC?

International PPC is a paid marketing strategy that targets audiences in various countries. This includes paid search ads on Google and Bing, and social media ads on platforms like Facebook Ads and TikTok Ads.

But wait — does that mean you can recycle the same ad campaign from one country and use it for another? As inspiration, sure, but Yadegar confirms you should “100%, separate them for different countries.”

International PPC campaigns typically use different keywords, audience targeting criteria, ad elements, visuals, and languages from domestic campaigns.

Consider this:

Nike, Verizon, and Microsoft sell billions of dollars’ worth of products per year worldwide. But how did they reach a global audience?

(Image: Adobe)

They wouldn’t recycle their latest US ad campaign in other countries, like England or Croatia, because each country has unique audiences and demographics.

As an award-winning digital marketing agency, we worked with all three of these high-ticket clients on international PPC campaigns that tailored every ad to each audience’s specific country.

But how do you merge all these elements into a successful international PPC campaign? We’ll show you.

How to create international PPC campaigns: 8 steps

Marketing to a German audience? You can still promote the same products that you would to your American customers.

You’ll want to consider a few extra steps for an internationally robust marketing campaign:

1. Identify your target international markets

First step? Think about where your current and prospective customers live. Suppose 80% of sales come from the US and 20% from Russia. It makes sense to zero in on Russia in your PPC geotargeting.

However, specificity is key. Search engines like Google Ads let you target based on region and city, so you’ll need to conduct audience research to determine the most valuable locations of a particular country to target.

As you pinpoint target markets, you can drill down into more specifics by crafting ideal customer profiles and buyer personas. These should detail each audience’s cultural preferences, languages, and preferred PPC advertising platforms.

For example, if you notice that one of your audience segments spends more time on Amazon than LinkedIn, you’d focus your targeting efforts on Amazon.

But should you target international audiences in countries where your customers don’t live? Yadegar thinks so:

“If you have a strong foothold in a given region, and you know your brand will resonate locally, it’s usually a win-win,” he explains.

This might manifest as an influx of branded keyword queries from a certain country or an audience persona that identifies a particular region as their home.

Locations marked with pins on world map, global communication network, closeup

(Image: Adobe)

2. Conduct international keyword research

Keyword searches will differ from country to country. You can identify these differences with search engine optimization (SEO) tools like Google Keyword Planner or Semrush.

International audiences usually search in their native languages, but this doesn’t mean your product’s keywords will always translate seamlessly.

If you simply plug your US keywords into Google Translate, you might lose high-intent keywords in the process. That’s why professional translation services are a must for accurate and effective international search marketing (we’re happy to help with that).

But that’s not always the case. Some English words, like “laptop” and “McDonalds,” are used universally. This means you can still target an international audience with these globally recognized English terms.

3. Assess your budget and CPC

You might invest a certain budget amount into specific keywords for your domestic audience, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all for international campaigns. The second audience might have different spending habits, which suggests you’ll need a smaller budget to avoid wasted ad spend.

The good news? Yadegar says international CPCs tend to be cheaper:

“We can see fluctuations in cost per click when advertising in different regions,” Yadegar explains. “More often than not, it turns out to be a solid opportunity where you can drive high-quality conversions at a lower cost in different regions.”

4. Refine your geographic targeting

When you hear the word “international,” it’s easy to assume the topic involves different countries. But you can structure international ad campaigns in other ways, too:


As mentioned, this is one of the most common global PPC campaign structures, most ideal for brands who can realistically offer products and services across a large service area. Ecommerce businesses, take note: this lets you cast a wide net with your geotargeting.

The only downside? You might spend a lot of marketing dollars to reach people who aren’t hot to convert. But don’t underestimate the value of browsers; if they see you, that’s one step closer to conversion and a win for building brand awareness!

Areas within a country

Let’s say you tend to sell more in dense urban cities than small towns. If you targeted an entire country, you risk investing in rural audiences with little interest in your offerings.

In this case, you can target specific cities, bigger regions, or even postal codes within a country with this structure. And you can replicate this approach for multiple countries to optimize your ad spend where it truly counts.

Region or radius

A successful PPC strategy hinges on personalization. Our take? Regional PPC campaigns connect better with your target audience than the previous two structures.

That’s because region-specific campaigns can include multiple campaigns within the same country or even city. Google lets you choose a specified radius from any location.

We’ve seen high-ticket SaaS brands harness radius targeting to successfully reel in big spenders. Just be careful not to short-change yourself by making your radius too small. Google’s minimum is 1km, but overly tight targeting could result in missing out on other potential customers.


It’s not uncommon to have international audiences that share the same language. For example, a brand with Canadian, American, French, and Belgian audiences could structure campaigns like this:

  • English: Canada, US
  • French: Canada, Belgium

Notice how Canada appears in both structures? That’s because you can target two types of Canadian audiences based on the dual national languages, English and French.

Language-based campaigns can target multiple countries at once, though you might risk brushing over certain audiences.

For instance, a Canadian French-speaker and Belgian French-speaker might each have different preferences, budgets, dialects, and local cultures that warrant customized campaigns.

5. Consider time zones and seasonality

Timing is everything for certain brands. If you overlook seasonality in international campaigns, it could invite a drop in your Google Ads performance.

Think about it; people are more likely to search for “late-night delivery,” for movie night snacks or when fourth meal strikes. Similarly, brunch spots and coffee shops might capture more local traffic in the morning hours.

These ad schedules can help you align your ads with peak hours to maximize your ad spend.

Now imagine these restaurants are international chains. You can set up custom ad schedules to bid on keywords during morning hours in the US However, you’ll need to adjust these times for your audience in Europe, too.

Sure, you could simplify things and let your ads automatically target audiences 24/7. But if you want to make every dollar count, we recommend tweaking ad schedules for each international campaign.

Seasonality is another important factor. An ecommerce business that sells summer apparel might pay for more exposure during July and August in the US However, if they ship internationally to Argentina, the summer season spans December to February.

6. Create and localize your international PPC ads

Now it’s time to craft your first ad. To start, why not use a domestic ad as a template to build your international ad with updated keywords?

Sounds easy enough, but it could cost you conversions. As we’ve discussed, international audiences are each unique. To truly connect, you need to reflect these location nuances in your ads.

Localization could include:

  • Currency: The dollar sign might be standard for you, but if you target audiences in Beijing, China? Make sure those ads display prices in the Chinese Yuan.
  • Language: Your ad could be the most persuasive piece of content marketing out there, but it won’t mean much if it’s not in your audience’s language.
  • Payment method: Research and incorporate payment methods (credit card, PayPal, e-transfer, etc.) that are most common in each target country.
  • Laws: Heineken sells beer almost everywhere. But some countries don’t permit alcohol drinking, so they could market their non-alcoholic beer alternatives instead.

Don’t forget to keep that momentum going all the way to your landing page.

7. Build compelling landing pages

Landing pages are where your audience lands after clicking on your ad. The most effective ones have branded visuals, a concise lead or contact form, persuasive web copy, and an engaging call to action (CTA). Peep our landing page guide for a full walk through.

This is your chance to convert your international audience, so you want to incentivize them with an individually tailored landing page. Just like your ad copy, your go-to domestic landing page might not work for an international audience.

Imagine a Spanish citizen clicks an ad only to redirect to an English landing page. You can bet they’ll likely bounce. Perhaps they also speak English, but still, the page isn’t personalized to them. And it’s not just language discrepancies that can spoil a potential conversion.

Landing pages need to flow seamlessly. The entire experience should have a consistent tone and branding — from the localized ad and headline copy all the way to its lead form and CTA.

Don’t forget to check your domain, too. One way to build trust with your international audience is through local domain extensions that make their user experience feel more personalized.

For example, a potential customer from Canada might feel subconsciously more at ease seeing a “/ca” at the end of your landing page URL.

8. Monitor and optimize performance

PPC management for international campaigns still requires regular monitoring. Luckily, key performance indicators (KPIs) don’t vary too much between domestic to international campaigns.

Here are the most important KPIs Yadegar recommends you monitor for international PPC campaigns:

  • Clickthrough rate (CTR): The percentage of people who click your ad versus those who scroll past it
  • Cost per click: How much each click on your ad costs
  • Cost per conversion: The average cost a brand pays to achieve a customer conversion, usually a purchase
  • Conversion rate: The percentage of your audience who converts from your ads
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS): The amount of money you earn from each dollar spent on your marketing strategy
  • Quality Score: Google’s own metric that measures your ad’s effectiveness compared to competitors
  • Ad quality: Google’s assessment of your audience’s user experience of your ad and landing page

As a baseline for comparison, you might note KPIs for your domestic campaigns in Google Analytics. If you notice a lower CTR on an international campaign than your domestic one, don’t panic just yet — Yadegar says fluctuation is normal in new markets.

But if you want more insights, he suggests going deeper with HawkSEM’s proprietary tech:

ConversionIQ offers granular revenue tracking, and can break down campaigns based on regional revenue generated,” he says.

International PPC versus domestic PPC

International PPC campaigns target locations outside your brand’s headquarters. This opens doors to more audiences and potentially more revenue than if you were to rely solely on domestic campaigns.
Here are a few more differences between international and domestic PPC campaigns:

  • Costs: Less competitive international markets might offer lower costs per click (CPC) than dominant ones.
  • Seasonality: International campaigns might offer more conversion potential at different times of year compared to your domestic campaigns.
  • Ad copy and visuals: International ads must reflect local language, cultural preferences, and values that may differ from your domestic audience.
  • Audience behavior: Website history, purchase behavior, and sales cycles can all differ in an international market.

The takeaway

International PPC campaigns are your secret weapon to tap into more international customers and revenue. But as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Multiple languages, local cultures, different countries to target, and localization all take time you might not always have in your busy schedule.

One way to sidestep the headache without relinquishing global impact?

Expert PPC services from an international agency with a global client roster — all of which experience an average of 4.5X ROI. Your dedicated account manager will oversee every aspect of your PPC campaign, from audience research and localization to performance monitoring and analysis.

Ready to turn your international PPC campaigns into frequent flyers that capture audiences across the globe? You’ll need a first-class international PPC agency to pilot your strategy — we’ve got the ticket.

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation