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AdWords Language Targeting

ByMosheTLV and PPCBossman


In our diverse world, where people speak different languages in the same geographic location, advertisers' goals are to reach the broadest audiences that speak the campaign's language. As an advertiser, I want to configure my campaign settings to cover all audiences relevant to my campaign: AdWords offers both geographic targeting and language targeting. Language targeting aims to target multi-lingual users who search in one language, but prefer to use their mother tongue language as their primary language on the internet.


By setting the correct languages, the ones commonly spoken in the location targeted, I expand my campaign's exposure and increase my impressions.


How does Google identify a user language?

Google uses three major techniques to identify the user's language:

  • The user's Google domain interface: -Each Google domain is assigned to a default language. has French as its default language, is set to German as its default language and uses English as its default language
  • The user's language preferences in his browser settings.
  • The user’s actual location.


Why multi-lingual settings?

Here are a few examples why advertisers should consider targeting more than one language:

  • An advertiser, who runs a campaign across the UK in English, may want to target French native speakers, who are fluent in English and are located in the UK. French is their native language, and they prefer to set their browser preferences to French, but, they also conduct searches in English on
  • A Canadian who runs a campaign in French wants to target English-speaking Canadians who speak French as well.
  • A US advertiser that runs an English campaign that targets Florida, wants to target Spanish native speakers, that live in Florida who conduct "day to day" business in English, however, prefer their internet browser setting to be in Spanish.


How to target languages on AdWords:

  1. Identify the primary languages spoken In the Geo-location region you are targeting. (Those are not necessarily official languages),
  2. On the AdWords language setting tab check those languages and click save.


(If you target Japanese, Korean, Thai or Greek, - For these languages, the alphabet characters define the language. If your campaign is in one of these languages, you do not need to set languages. For these languages, a keyword can trigger an ad, regardless of the user's browser language settings.

about Moshe Avichai

We are an online advertising partnership, specializing in Search and Display networks, Global Campaigns, Audience targeting, and AdWords Policy

ShroffS Top Contributor
August 2012

Hey Moshe,


Great article! Smiley Happy

I was actually reading up on language targeting for a client I have and wanted to implement this.

You have perfectly identified the ways that Google identifies a User language.


I had a question regarding this:

If I am targeting the US and have spanish and English Speaking users.. and I want to target my brand terms.. but show spanish users an ad in spanish and take them to a spanish landing page and show my english users an english and and english landing page.


I would ideally structure my account to have 2 separate campaigns.. geo targeted to the US, but campaign 1 would have Spanish as the targeted language and campaign 2 would be english.


I would have Brand keywords in both my campaigns...

Now what happens if someone on a spanish interaface types my brand term in english?

If hes on a spanish interface, I would rather show my ad to him in spanish..

but does Google understand this?


I have implemented this and don't see too much success with this...


I also am not sure if my keywords in the spanish campaigna dn the english campaign are competing against each other..


Could you suggest an alternate method for this kind of targeting?


Or have I done something wrong?

MosheTLV Top Contributor
August 2012 - last edited August 2012


Great question:

As you indicated, If you use a brand-name as keywords in its original English form, in all campaigns - the (brand-name) keywords would compete .

I usually recommend in these cases to use the brand-name localized version, that is tailored/ customized to the local (language) alphabet.

Marco V
November 2015

I realize this might not be the right place for feedback of this kind, but I can't find the right place. So if you would point me in the right direction, that would be greatly appreciated.

It doesn't seem to work very well though.


I live in Belgium where there are 3 major languages. Dutch, French and German.

But I don't speak or understand French.

I have been sharing all of my information concerning ads, like interests, for years now and I have many languages in my profile where French is not one of them.

With all the data that I have been sharing with Google for years, it shouldn't be too hard to figure out that I don't speak a certain language right? So why does it not work properly?


But when I visit

French Ads, and for some strange reason, I have never seen a German ad


I'ts a waste of time if you don't check the data that I willingly share for the purpose of seeing ads that I am actually interested in.

Not only is it a waste of my time, it is a waste of advertisers time and money if the user does not understand the language.


I see that it might be the advertisers fault for not setting up their target audience properly, but I just want it fixed.


Thank you for your time, and keep up the good work,


A generally satisfied Google services user,fanboy and advocate

MosheTLV Top Contributor
November 2015

Marco V;

Indeed, this is not the place to the question, but if asked, remember that Google has many signals in which it determines the user's language, or the use's interest in a specific language. For example, if you visit sites in French frequently (even if you don't speak French),  this could signal some knowledge in French  and surely an interest in French / France


Marco V
November 2015

Sorry Moshe,

Feel free to remove my post.

Google has these nice "feedback" buttons everywhere that I use sometimes. Guess where they are missing.

I just want to get in touch with the right people/computer

Raphaël V

Hi Moshe,


Thank you for the article. I have got one question concerning both language and location targeting.


Let's say that I want to target French people in general, i.e people who are living in a French speaking country (France, Quebec, part of Switzerland and Belgium...) OR people who speak French (language targeting).


You can naturally target people who are living in a specific country AND who are speaking a target language. But is it possible to target with an "OR" statement? Or do I need to set two different campaigns, a first one targeting the language and another one targeting the location?


Thanks in advance!


MosheTLV Top Contributor

@Raphaël V;

This is a good question.

Since geo-targeting and language targeting are both settings at the campaign level, the AND condition applies.

Raphaël V


Thank you for the quick reply. I'll set two campaigns then.