Recently, while reading an email on GMail from a friend in China, an ad caught my attention. It was for a Chinese bookstore. What surprised me about the ad was that the creative was written in Chinese. Mostly likely, the few Chinese characters in my friend’s email prompted Google to serve the ad in a foreign language. It got me thinking, though, wouldn’t users automatically gravitate towards ads written in their native language?
Let’s take for example a very competitive vertical, say, insurance leads or specifically the inquiry “auto insurance quote,” for which Google conjures up the usual suspects – AAA, Geico, Mercury, etc. Now let’s imagine you are one of the 4.6 million  “persons of Hispanic or Latino origin” residing in Los Angeles and your mother tongue is Spanish. Instead of searching for “auto insurance quote,” your search term would probably a variation of “Cotizaciones de seguro de auto.”
Taking this hypothetical one step further, let’s imagine you could search for “auto insurance quote” and based on your zip code , in this example a location with a heavy latino population, Google could cater to your demographic and language. Wouldn’t the likelihood of you clicking on that ad be greater, if it were written in your native language? The question becomes even more prevalent for languages outside the Latin alphabet, for example Chinese.
In essence, we would be bidding twice on the same keyword, once in English and once on a non-English version based on geo-targeting zip codes. In a competitive vertical, this could provide an edge.
One side note: the autoinsure.org ad in Chinese above leads to a page written completely in English. If you were ever looking for an example of what not to do in CPO, this is it!