Crafting Messaging for PPC Campaigns in Other English Countries

British vs AmericanFor many PPC managers, it’s an easy jump to begin targeting other English speaking countries in accounts. No translation help required and as long as you sell products or provide service there you’re covered, right? Well, you could be missing out on some great language optimizations that can make your new audience feel right at home.

English Can Be Weird

The English language has a high degree of difficulty because it is full of inconsistencies and words with double meanings. Consider these sentences:

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  10. I did not object to the object.

Additionally, the English language just doesn’t even make sense sometimes. For example,

  1. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger, neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
  2. English muffins weren’t invented in England, and French fries aren’t French.
  3. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.
  4. Quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea, nor is it a pig.
  5. And why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce, and hammers don’t ham?
  6. If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth?
  7. One goose, two geese; so, one moose, two meese? One index, two indices?
  8. Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends, but not one amend?
  9. If you have a bunch of odds and ends, and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
  10. If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?


Impacts on PPC Strategy

When developing a PPC strategy that is based on the search queries, the English language presents a lot of challenges. And, if your client provides its product or service to other English speaking countries, you need to be aware of the nuances in their version of English. Particularly because search queries mimic the spoken version of the language more so than the written form. This was a challenge I was recently faced with when I was developing a keyword strategy for the UK.

Although these countries speak English, there are significant differences in how you should approach your audience compared to the US. The first noticeable difference is in the spelling. If you place an ad outside the US and use the US spelling, people are far less likely to click your ad. I am not a linguist, but here are some basic guidelines to get you started on your campaign in in the UK and other English speaking nations outside the US.

In the UK,

  • terms ending in –er often retain their French, greek, or latin endings of –re
    • centre
  • terms ending –or become –our
    • colour
  • terms ending in -yze become –yse
    • analyse
  • -log and –gog become -logue and –gogue
    • catalogue
  • the preference is to not to drop the -e in terms like aging.
    • ageing

For a more complete explanation of the differences between American English and British English click here.

The next difference you will notice between US English and English spoken by other countries is the terminology. Here is a list of words compiled by Ubuntu that differ between the US and UK.

I recommend creating a separate campaign for each country you’re targeting so you can develop a keyword list and create ads specific to that country and their language nuances. How often do you click an ad with a misspelled word in it? Probably not very often. So if you are in the UK and you use the term, color or center, instead of colour or centre, your audience might think you are not a reputable source, or they will immediately know you are American. Either way, you’ve got a lower chance of earning their business.

Unfortunately, successful advertising abroad doesn’t stop at spelling and terminology. You have to consider how people in other countries behave and interact. There are additional pieces outside of language to consider when targeting users in different countries.

  • What other languages are spoken besides English?
    1. US – Spanish
    2. Canada – French
    3. Others?
  • How does the consumer behavior differ?
    1. Are they more/less risk adverse?
    2. Are the pain points the same?
    3. What incentives resonate with those citizens?
  • What types of creatives do users in the country respond to?

What other differences have you noticed across difference English speaking countries? Share with us in the comments!

Easy Reference

I’ll leave you with this. The table below is a great resource if you’re ever needing to know how the US speakers across the pond will write something.

en-US Spelling English Translation
Acronym Initialism
Adapter Adaptor
Adrenalin Adrenaline
Agenda Agendum
Airplane Aeroplane
aluminum Aluminium
analog analogue
analyze analyse
analyzed analysed
analyzer analyser
analyzing analysing
anchor newsreader
anemia anaemia
anesthesia anaesthesia
anesthesiologist anaesthetist
anesthetic anaesthetic
annex annexe
antennas antennae
antialiased anti-aliased
antialiasing anti-aliasing
anymore any more
appall appal
archeology archaeology
armor armour
ass arse
artifact artefact
authorization authorisation
authorizational authorisational
authorize authorise
authorized authorised
authorizing authorising
automobile motorcar
ax axe
backward backwards
balk baulk
barnyard farmyard
basicly basically
bathroom toilet
beet beetroot
behavior behaviour
behoove behove
bill note
binder clip bulldog clip
bobsled bobsleigh
boogey bogey
brace curly bracket
braces curly brackets
braked broke
broil grill
buddy mate
bullhorn megaphone
burned burnt
bum tramp
cafe café
caliber calibre
canceled cancelled
canceling cancelling
candy sweet
candy bar chocolate bar
canned tinned
capitalization capitalisation
capitalize capitalise
capitalized capitalised
capitalizing capitalising
carburetor carburettor
cart trolley
case insensitive case-insensitive
case sensitive case-sensitive
caster castor
catalog catalogue
categorization categorisation
categorize categorise
categorized categorised
categorizing categorising
chapstick lip balm
centimeter centimetre
center centre
centered centred
centering centring
centralization centralisation
centralize centralise
centralized centralised
centralizing centralising
cesium caesium
check cheque
check tick
checkbox tickbox
checked chequered
checked ticked
checker chequer
checkerboard chequerboard
checkered chequered
chips crisps
cipher cypher
coffee shop café
cold neutral
color colour
colored coloured
colorer colourer
colorful colourful
coloring colouring
colorkey colour-key
colorspace colour-space
congress parliament
congressman Member of Parliament, MP
cookie biscuit
cooperate co-operate
coordinate co-ordinate
corn maize
cornsilk maize silk
cotton candy candy floss
counterclockwise anti-clockwise
counter-clockwise anti-clockwise
coupe coupé
coveralls overalls
cozy cosy
curb kerb
curriculums curricula
customizable customisable
customization customisation
customize customise
customized customised
customizing customising
dealed dealt
defense defence
delete Permanently Delete
dialed dialled
dialer dialler
dialing dialling
dialog dialogue
diaper nappy
diarrhea diarrhoea
digitization digitisation
digitize digitise
digitized digitised
digitizer digitiser
digitizing digitising
dishrag dish cloth
dishtowel tea towel
disk disc
disorganized disorganised
distill distil
donut doughnut
downspout drainpipe
downward downwards
Dr. Dr
draft draught
dreamed dreamt
drugstore pharmacy
dumpster skip
eastward eastwards
eggplant aubergine
e-mails e-mail
email e-mail
emails e-mail
encyclopedia encyclopaedia
endeavor endeavour
England Britain
English British
English Imperial
enology oenology
equaled equalled
equaling equalling
equalize equalise
equalized equalised
equalizer equaliser
equalizing equalising
esophagus oesophagus
esthetics aesthetics
estrogen oestrogen
expressway motorway
fag homosexual
fall autumn
familiarization familiarisation
familiarize familiarise
familiarized familiarised
familiarizing familiarising
fanny buttocks
fanny pack bum bag
faucet tap
favor favour
favored favoured
favoring favouring
favorite favourite
fetus foetus
fiber fibre
filet fillet
fill out fill in
flashlight torch
flatware cutlery
flavor flavour
flavored flavoured
flavoring flavouring
forever for ever
formulas formulae
forums fora
forward forwards
forward slash slash
fourth quarter
freeway motorway
french fries hot chips
freshman fresher
fries chips
fueled fuelled
fueling fuelling
furor furore
garbage rubbish
gas petrol
gasoline petrol
globalization globalisation
globalizational globalisational
globalize globalise
globalized globalised
globalizing globalising
globaly globally
glycerin glycerine
goiter goitre
gotten got
gray grey
graylist greylist
graylisted greylisted
graylisting greylisting
ground earth
grounded earthed
grounding earthing
guerilla guerrilla
gynecology gynaecology
hanged hung
harbor harbour
harbored harboured
harboring harbouring
hemophilia haemophilia
hemophiliac haemophiliac
hauler haulier
hobo homeless person
homeopathic homoeopathic
homeopathy homoeopathy
honor honour
honored honoured
honoring honouring
hood bonnet
hot live, active
humor humour
humored humoured
humoring humouring
infeasible unfeasible
initialization initialisation
initializational initialisational
initialize initialise
initialized initialised
initializer initialiser
initializing initialising
inquire enquire
inquiry enquiry
insure ensure
internet Internet
internationalization internationalisation
internationalizational internationalisational
internationalize internationalise
internationalized internationalised
internationalizing internationalising
jail gaol
jello jelly
jell-o jelly
jelly jam
jeweled jewelled
jeweler jeweller
jewelery jewellery
journaling journalling
judgment judgement
kilometer kilometre
kiwi kiwifruit
kneeled knelt
labeled labelled
labeler labeller
labeling labelling
labor labour
labored laboured
laboring labouring
ladybug ladybird
last name surname
leaned leant
leaped lept
learned learnt
leukemia leukaemia
license licence
license plate number plate
licorice liquorice
lighted lit
line mains
liter litre
localization localisation
localizational localisational
localize localise
localized localised
localizing localising
mail post
mailbox letterbox
mailman postman
mail slot letterbox
math maths
medieval mediaeval
meter metre
micrometer micrometre
milliliter millilitre
millimeter millimetre
minimize minimise
minimized minimised
minimizing minimising
misspelled misspelt
modeled modelled
modeler modeller
modeling modelling
mold mould
molt moult
mom mum
momma mumma
mommy mummy
mom-and-pop mum-and-dad
most almost
movie film
movies cinema
movies films
Mr. Mr
Mrs. Mrs
Ms. Ms
mustache moustache
nanometer nanometre
neighbor neighbour
neighboring neighbouring
neuron neurone
newsdealer newsagent
normalcy normality
normalization normalisation
normalize normalise
normalized normalised
normalizing normalising
northward northwards
offense offence
off of off
oftentimes often
onward onwards
optimization optimisation
optimizational optimisational
optimize optimise
optimized optimised
optimizing optimising
organization organisation
organizational organisational
organize organise
organized organised
organizer organiser
organizing organising
ornery irritable
orthopedic orthopaedic
ouster ousting
pacifier dummy
pajamas pyjamas
paneled panelled
paneling panelling
pants trousers
pantyhose tights
paren bracket
parentheses brackets
parenthesis bracket
parenthesized bracketed
parking lot car park
pediatric paediatric
period full stop
persnickety pernickety
picometer picometre
plow plough
pop dad
popsicle ice lolly
porch veranda
postpend suffix
pound sign hash
power cord flex/mains lead, mains wire/wiring (source)
practice practise
premiere première
prepend prefix
prioritization prioritisation
prioritize prioritise
prioritized prioritised
prioritizing prioritising
program programme
prong pin
proved proven
pry prise
quint quin
railroad railway
randomization randomisation
randomize randomise
randomized randomised
randomizing randomising
rappel abseil
realator real estate agent
realization realisation
realize realise
realized realised
realizing realising
recognizable recognisable
recognize recognise
recognized recognised
recognizing recognising
reinitialize reinitialise
reinitialized reinitialised
reinitializing reinitialising
resume CV
résumé CV
route round
row house terraced house
rumor rumour
rumored rumoured
saber sabre
sailboat sailing boat
sanitarium sanatorium
Santa Claus Father Christmas
scalawag scallywag
scepter sceptre
schedule timetable
season series
serialization serialisation
serializational serialisational
serialize serialise
serialized serialised
serializing serialising
shivaree charivari
sidewalk pavement
signaled signalled
signaling signalling
simultanous simultaneous
skeptic sceptic
skeptical sceptical
skepticism scepticism
sled sleigh
sneakers trainers
snicker snigger
soapbox podium
soccer football
soda soft drink
solitaire patience
southward southwards
specialization specialisation
specializational specialisational
specialize specialise
specialized specialised
specializing specialising
specialty speciality
specter spectre
spelled spelt
spider spyder
spilled spilt
spiraled spiralled
spiraling spiralling
spoiled spoilt
St St.
St. St
standardize standardise
stickshift gear stick
story storey
stories storeys
streetcar tram
stroller pram
sulfur sulphur
sulfurous sulphurous
summarization summarisation
summarizational summarisational
summarize summarise
summarized summarised
summarizing summarising
sweater jumper
symbolization symbolisation
symbolizational symbolisational
symbolize symbolise
symbolized symbolised
symbolizing symbolising
synchronization synchronisation
synchronizational synchronisational
synchronize synchronise
synchronized synchronised
synchronizing synchronising
synthesize synthesise
taffy toffee
tailpipe exhaust pipe
taliban taleban
teleprompter autocue
templatization templatisation
templatizational templatisational
templatize templatise
templatized templatised
templatizing templatising
theater theatre
thumbtack drawing pin
tic-tac-toe noughts and crosses
tidbit titbit
tire tyre
totaled totalled
totaler totaller
totaling totalling
toward towards
trackless trolley trolleybus
transportation transport
trapezium trapezoid
trapezoid trapezium
trash rubbish, Rubbish Bin
truck lorry
trunk boot
turnpike toll road
turtleneck polo neck
tuxedo dinner jacket
uncategorized uncategorised
undershirt singlet
unauthorized unauthorised
uninitialization uninitialisation
uninitializational uninitialisational
uninitialize uninitialise
uninitialized uninitialised
uninitializing uninitialising
unorganized unorganised
unrecognizable unrecognisable
unrecognized unrecognised
upcoming forthcoming
upscale upmarket
upward upwards
useable usable
utilization utilisation
utilize utilise
utilized utilised
utilizing utilising
vacation holiday
vacationer holidaymaker
vapor vapour
vectorization vectorisation
vectorizational vectorisational
vectorize vectorise
vectorized vectorised
vectorizer vectoriser
vectorizing vectorising
virtualization virtualisation
virtualize virtualise
virtualized virtualised
virtualizing virtualising
vise vice
visualization visualisation
visualize visualise
visualized visualised
visualizing visualising
vs. Vs
web Web
westward westwards
windshield windscreen
yogurt yoghurt
zee Zed
ZIP code postcode
zucchini courgette


Comments (2)

  1. very comprehensive list but, take if from a native English person, some of them are totally wrong or simply haven’t been used since the 19th Century! Good effort though 🙂

  2. Thank you! It has been a challenge learning the differences between our versions of English. Being that you are a native English person, would you mind sharing some of your thoughts on what we should be conscience of when we develop our ads to target people in the UK?

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