From time to time, it’s important to take a step back. Display campaigns can become very complex, and details sometimes get ignored. If you ignore those details for too long, opportunities can be missed. And opportunities can come from the most interesting of situations.

The browser language lesson

Recently I took a trip to Europe. But of course I couldn’t stay away from the display world for long. While there, I made sure to fire up my laptop and see what kind of display banners and campaigns run are common across the pond. What I saw was a bit surprising: banner after banner in foreign languages (Italian and German for the most part). IP targeting was the main reason I was served those banners, but more specificity would have done wonders for the ad campaigns.

We use MediaMath as our main Demand Side Platform (DSP) for exchange buying needs. Did you know that many DSPs give you the ability to target by browser language? Had the advertisers targeting me in Europe added a simple “LANG_en” variable to their parameters and included banners with English copy, I would have been much more receptive to their messaging.

With all of the English-speaking business travelers in Germany and Italy, I would have expected to see at least a few banners more specifically targeted to me. This tactic might not work 100% of the time, but it sure is better than 0%.

As a traveler in a foreign country, I was not familiar with the areas in which I stayed. Where to eat, what to see, and how to get around were just a few of the questions I had.  It would seem to me that someone in Munich with US English as their browser language setting might be a good target for an advertiser performing one of those services I listed above. Some company probably missed me as an opportunity.

More takeaways

The main point of this post applies not only to people speaking different languages. Simple tactics, like day parting or geo targeting, sometimes can mean efficiency gained or lost. Make a point to check your targeting parameters at least once a week. If you are working directly with premium publishers or networks, make sure to have them audit frequently as well.

Depending on the campaign, one or two extra conversions could mean hitting a CPA goal or coming in below target. Serving the right message at the right time can help accomplish that.  And to the brands serving me banners with Italian and German ad copy, you could have had me at “Hello.”

– Sean Nowlin, Director of Display

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Sean Nowlin
Sean Nowlin has worked in the sales and marketing industry since 2000. Before joining 3Q Digital in February 2012, he spent three years running display campaigns for Progressive Insurance, a top-10 digital advertiser. Sean’s display expertise consists of managing premium publisher relationships, ad networks, Demand Side Platforms, ad verification, and Online Behavioral Advertising compliance. He has a B.A. in Marketing from Cleveland State University and an M.B.A from Weatherhead School of Management – Case Western Reserve University. Sean enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, loves technology, and is a die-hard Cleveland sports fan (Indians, Browns, and Cavs). Sean's insights on display have appeared on several well read outlets, including,, and