Cross-Border Banner Ad Retargeting

Another important strategy for reducing shopping cart abandonment is (re)targeting customers through banner ads. The good news about this is that it works largely the same way that domestic consumers’ banner-ad retargeting works with a few additional steps, many of which are one-time.

Map your traffic

The first task is a one-time step performing a simple traffic-mapping exercise, where you should determine answers to the following questions:

  1. Which countries and geographies are sending the most traffic to your website? Is this traffic significant?
  2. What percentage (%) of your total traffic does each country represent?
  3. What are the specific sources (websites, search engines, etc.) of the traffic?
  4. Are people searching in English (the native language of my website) or are they searching in their own language and coming to my site? If you cannot determine the answer to this, it is possible to estimate looking at the general language demographics of the country in question. With Japan, for instance, there is a strong likelihood 100% of the traffic speaks Japanese, whereas in Belgium it may be Dutch, French, German, or English.

Validate potential markets

Next is another one-time step. Study how the retargeting strategy might fit into, or function within, the expectations and capabilities of local market.

Check that the target customer profiles are at least on par with local disposable income, industry, and regulations. Verifying this can be as simple as asking pertinent questions to a friend from the target country, or asking someone who speaks the local language to spend a few minutes searching for this information online.

Determine which ad networks to use

In order to commence banner ad retargeting, you will want to determine which ad targeting networks are 1.) available in the target language and 2.) available in the target country, and ensure that they have a substantial network.

For example, if you are targeting Chinese speakers in China, Facebook and Google may not be ideal choices since they’re blocked there. Instead, you may want to utilize Chinese ad platforms or social media such as Tencent’s WeChat or Weibo, or Baidu (China’s largest search engine.)

Also, since this is Mainland China (as opposed to Taiwan or Hong Kong,) you will want to make sure that your ads are displayed primarily using simplified mandarin Chinese characters and NOT traditional ones. Google Adwords has a tool that advises users which languages to consider once they select the country they wish to target.(1)

For most countries, it’s likely that you’ll be able to use standard platforms such as Facebook, Google, or Adroll, but you may want to verify the usage rate and demographics of these.

In countries like Germany, Japan, and France, for example, there are a high percentage of users who do not use social media.(2) In these countries, using popular networks like Facebook and Twitter may be less effective, that is unless you wish to target a younger demographic.

Conversely, social selling is a great opportunity in places like Southeast Asia, so Facebook retargeting may be a stronger strategy than search engine banners (for example) to win over customers. Consider learning more about where your target customers prefer to do their buying, since this may vary from country to country as well. Occasionally, there is a local network champion that may be a better opportunity. In Taiwan for instance, though Facebook is incredibly popular, many younger Taiwanese use a software called Plurk for their tweeting instead of Twitter.

The Datanyze website has a very useful tool on display ad networks that has a country rank tool at the bottom of the network pages.(3) From there, it is possible to check many different markets depending on the ad network, and each network is ranked in terms of its market penetration. According to, the following companies have divided the global market share for ad targeting generally along these parameters.


Sources:, Google, Facebook, Criteo, Adroll, Captify, Rubicon Project/Chango (4)

Finally we get to the last critical step: localizing your content.

In some instances (as with Facebook Global pages) there may be built-in, machine-translated automation. However, you may wish to have this, as well as a translator, edit or confirm some of the content that you wish to display. Depending on the ad network, target market, etc., you may also need to employ additional translation or localization tools, or run it through your local team.

In any scenario, you will want to establish a regular process for this as well as for A/B testing your messages and images to make sure that, even in languages you don’t understand, or in countries where your company may not have a physical presence, there is a good ROI.

In many cases, the insight you have already gained from working on these platforms in your home market will be incredibly valuable as you target foreign ones that are essentially similar types of customers. Of course, there will be diversity within any market, and going cross-border means you will likely need to spend some time learning and optimizing. You may also need to replace some of the images, and in some cases, you may wish to adjust the campaigns.


  1. “About Language Targeting,” Google Adwords Help,
  2. Jacob Poushter, “Not Everyone in Advanced Economies is Using Social Media,” Pew Research, April 20, 2017,
  3. “Facebook Web Custom Audiences,” Datanyze,
  4. Data sources: Datanyze (, Google (, Facebook (, Criteo (, Adroll (, Captify (, Rubicon Project (

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