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Translation of online advertising material into other languages

If your business is heavily web-based, you’re probably already aware of the potential of the Internet to reach an international audience, and to reach them quickly through online advertising. To serve your international customers, you’ll likely have your website translated into the major languages ​​spoken in your target markets. For many people, this part is relatively straightforward: send your copy to the translator, who will provide you with a quote based on the volume of the text and any other special requirements you may have, such as checking the translated text of web forms once. they are online. But have you considered how you will handle the translation of your online advertising material?

Done correctly, online advertising material translation differs from ordinary translation in a few important ways. First, a significant portion of the material that will be translated will be the keywords you bid or buy for, rather than the ad text itself. Translating keywords effectively is somewhat different than translating paragraphs of text for reasons we’ll discuss below. A good ad translator should also work differently than a colleague who works with ordinary text when it comes to the ad copy itself.

This last point may seem the most obvious, but it is worth expanding on. The ad scheme you’re using will usually have restrictions placed on it, such as the maximum length of headlines and other ad lines. Your ad copy was probably chosen to sound catchy rather than because a particular literal meaning was important. Therefore, to translate an online advertisement, it may be more effective to use a rough translation that sounds catchy and meets length restrictions. As an example of the type of decisions the translator can make, there is a Spanish word that can be used to translate “summer vacation” (“veraneo”) that is actually shorter than the general word for “vacation”). If the translator knows that your business or campaign deals specifically with the summer holidays (and a good translator will always take the time to understand your business), you can use the shortest word which can be crucial when translating an ad headline with a 25- character limit

Problems related to the translation of advertising keywords may be less obvious. But first think about the process you went through to choose your keywords. He probably started by choosing a few phrases that characterize his business. Then you may have expanded this list by considering synonyms, possibly using a tool like Google Trends to find the most likely synonyms a user would search for. He would also have considered which combinations of these synonyms were most likely in English. For example, in British English, the words “hire”, “rent” and “let” have similar meanings, but “hire” is often associated with industrial vehicles or machines, “rent” with residential property and “let” with property. commercial. . Subconsciously, your choice of possible keywords was probably influenced by English grammar and web search grammar. For example, he would probably choose “van rental” instead of “van rental” or “van rental”, neither of which are usually grammatical in English. If he were running a vacation company, he might choose “minibreaks Paris” over “minibreaks in Paris” because he knows people tend to skip short function words like “in” in web searches.

When it comes to translating these keywords, you may naively think that you can look up the translations of each individual word and do a search and replace on the list of keywords. Unfortunately this will generally not be effective for a number of reasons. Where there are synonyms like “hire”, “rent”, “let” in English, the foreign language probably won’t have exactly the same number of synonyms with a direct mapping between them. (In Spanish, for example, the two verbs “alquilar” and “rentar” can apply to both vehicles and property.) Therefore, in the foreign language, you may need to consider word combinations that you did not consider in English, and some combinations may not be feasible.

Some of the grammatical restrictions that affected your English keyword selection may not apply in the foreign language. For example, in English, the phrase “vans for hire” is generally ungrammatical. But in French, Italian, and Spanish (and indeed many other languages), the phrase would be common and ungrammatical, either singular or plural, leading to more keyword combinations to consider bidding on. And in these and other Latin-based languages, compounds are usually formed by inserting the word “of” between content words (for example, “de” in Spanish and French, “di” in Italian). But in web searches, this word can be optionally omitted, so that in Spanish, for example, a Spaniard searching for “car rental” might search for (among other things) “alquiler DE coches” or simply “alquiler coches”.

Most subtle of all, the grammar of web searches actually differs from language to language. Some of my own research suggests, for example, that Spanish speakers are more likely to include the word “de” among content words than French speakers, and that Spanish speakers are more likely to pluralize words in their searches.

Finally, remember that some online advertising systems offer a keyword tool that will suggest keywords so you can bid on an initial listing. You should also talk to your translator to see if they can help you choose from the list of suggestions and advise you on their meanings where necessary.

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