Back in 2017, Ipsos Mori concluded that 69% of consumers distrust brands, seeing brands as part of “the establishment”, and not trusting them until they have seen “real-life proof” of their promises. It seems like little has changed since then, as evidenced by comments made earlier this year by Advertising Association president Keith Weed, who spoke about the “seven deadly sins” that the advertising industry is making.
So what is the role of localisation in helping advertisers clean up their act? We’ve picked a few sins to explore below.
The Declining Quality of Ads Is Annoying Customers
While quality can be defined in many ways, one of the most objective measures is spelling and grammar. Many advertisers opt for automated solutions to localise their advertising content, choosing cost reduction at scale over quality. While this may provide access to a wider customer base at speed, poor quality can have a lasting negative effect on brand perception, so automated solutions need to be used with care, and budget must be allocated to human post-editing and quality assurance.
Weed points to the trend of buying fake followers and likes, which he believes is undermining influencer marketing. In China, where many brands have long understood the power of key opinion leaders (KOLs) in supporting brand awareness and trust across social media, consumers are already waking up to inauthentic activity. Amazon has anticipated this trend and is already encouraging consumers not to “blindly follow”, but rather to discover a bigger world through their own preferences. This example of a truly localised campaign that speaks to growing KOL fatigue, can only be achieved with deep cultural insight and understanding arising from the target market.
Concerns over Personal Data Being Exploited
The need for specialist legal translation is well documented with cases sometimes being won or lost over the mistranslation of a single word. Furthermore, while the recent GDPR legislation is not explicit about the need to translate privacy policies, there is a requirement to be clear, transparent, easily understandable and readable, which makes the indirect case for translation. For brands wishing to respond to the increased consumer focus on data privacy, localising policies and creating multilingual content around the brand’s commitment to data security are worthwhile activities.
The average consumer is bombarded with 10,000 brand messages a day according to Weed. To increase the chance of cut through, and avoid becoming part of the white noise, great ad campaigns are nuanced, tailored to consumer needs and often very witty. In an increasingly crowded ad space, many brands, therefore, spend a huge amount of time and effort on ideation and content development. This process is often largely done in English and then translated into foreign languages. While the translation may be smart, the emotional engagement can be lost if the concept is not as relevant to the target market, so the campaign fails at the activation stage. Engaging local market specialists early in the ideation process will help identify how global campaigns need to be adjusted to resonate with local audiences and drive the split-second emotional responses that support engagement.
The Ipsos Mori report spoke to an increasing disconnect between the so-called metropolitan elite and consumers outside of the capital. The UK-focused research found that consumers felt that life outside of London was poorly represented in advertising. If UK advertisers are already struggling to create campaigns reflective of their own market’s needs, it raises the question of how well they are connecting with consumers overseas, where language and culture are arguably an even greater barrier. In the “fake news” era, where there is increasing mistrust of all things “foreign”, brands and advertisers who want to see international success must consider localisation as a key part of their efforts to garner consumer trust.