Too many U.S. companies are missing huge business opportunities by not marketing in Spanish. Are you one of them?


In 2019, advertising to the Hispanic audience using paid search through Google Ads (formerly AdWords) is a no-brainer. 


Millions of people speak Spanish, many of them are bilingual, and many of them use Google search every day.


By targeting your Google Ads/AdWords campaigns to those who have their browser or search settings set to Spanish, you can access this market for significant returns. Since many businesses overlook Spanish speakers, you have the chance at quick wins with a fairly low competition.

How many people speak Spanish in the US?

Marketers may be surprised at how huge of an audience is at stake. According to a report published by the Instituto Cervantes, the U.S. has more resident Spanish speakers than Spain. The US has the second-highest Spanish-speaking population in the world at 52.6 million people. Of those, 41 million are native Spanish speakers, and 11.6 million are bilingual.


What this data tells us is that marketers can target millions of U.S. search users without necessarily needing AdWords campaigns written entirely in Spanish. By adjusting your AdWords campaigns to display to Spanish speakers, you gain substantial opportunities — regardless of the language in which your ads or content is written.

Bilingual Digital Marketing Campaign

Below outlined, you will find out when to use Spanish AdWords campaign settings as well as how to start configuring a campaign of your own by considering the following suggestions and insights below.

Create Spanish AdWords Campaigns for Customers in the U.S.

Creating an AdWords campaign that delivers ads to Spanish speakers is incredibly easy. All you have to do is adjust the “Language” settings for a new or existing campaign to include both English and Spanish. That’s it!


When done properly, your campaign dashboard will display both “English; Spanish” under the language column.

With this setting selected, Google will make your AdWords campaign eligible for display to anyone who has their search interface set to the Spanish language. In some instances where a Spanish-language query returns Spanish-language web page results almost exclusively, then the AdWords campaign may display your ads for these searches, as well.


And, since English is still selected as a language, adding the additional language has no effect on the existing audience for your campaign.

Adding Spanish to your campaign-level settings can be enough to grow your potential market volume by 20 million people or more. Your ads or campaign content need not even be written in Spanish. In fact, it may be advisable to use identical ad copy and campaign materials as your English-language campaigns in most situations.


Why displaying English-language AdWords campaigns to search users with Spanish-language preferences makes sense? Well, let’s look at some statistics to explain.

Hispanic Digital Marketing: Diverse Language Preferences

The majority of Spanish speakers in the U.S. are bilingual or have at least a conversational grasp on English. Yet, an individual who communicates daily in English may still prefer to have their Google search settings defaulted to Spanish.


spanish language in US

Second Most Prevalent Languages in the United States


As a result, many intersecting possibilities arise for the language a Hispanic internet user may communicate in online. Take a look at the graph below to decide how your business might approach the question of how to create campaign content for Spanish AdWords campaigns.


According to research from Google and Ipsos Media, 28% of digitally-connected Hispanic people say they communicate predominantly in Spanish in their own home. However, just 16% of respondents said they use Spanish “most of the time” or “always” while browsing online.


On the flip side, 52% of connected Hispanics say they use English “most of the time/always” while online. More importantly, 94% of digital U.S. Hispanics say that they are “comfortable” consuming English content online for at least one activity category — such as when shopping or looking up information.


Businesses can, therefore, find effective results using English-language AdWords ad copy and related content to appeal to search users who have their interface set to Spanish.


Just make sure to understand the specific needs and expectations of your Hispanic audience segments before creating campaigns. Referring again to the Google/Ipsos study, 41% of digitally connected Hispanics feel more favorably about brands that include aspects of their specific Hispanic culture within advertising. 88% say that they pay attention to online ads that reference aspects of their Hispanic culture, regardless of what language in which the ad is written.


That said, cultural relevance or recognizability can vary greatly from demographic group to demographic group under the larger Spanish-speaking umbrella. For instance, children of Spanish-speaking Cuban immigrants will have quite different cultural experiences compared to a millennial-age bilingual immigrant who has recently moved from Argentina.


Even from region to region within Spanish-speaking countries, experiences can differ greatly, so be cautious and look to audience research before making blanket assumptions about what your audience will respond to.

Spanish Content Marketing: Translating Copy


target hispanic marketing-got milk? cow image

Are You Lactating?


Choosing to create your ad copy or campaign materials (like landing pages) in Spanish can provide even better performance when targeting Hispanic audiences. But it also invites risks.


Bad grammar in any language hurts conversions and lowers trust in your brand. That’s why poorly written Spanish can quickly alienate your audience.


Things can get even worse if you try to make literal word-for-word translations from English to Spanish. Just remember that one time Coors Brewing tried to translate their slogan “Turn it loose” into Spanish, but it instead came out meaning “Suffer from diarrhea.” Similarly, a literal translation of “Got Milk?” in Mexico resulted in a campaign asking millions “Are You Lactating?” based on how the phrase was understood.


Looking at it from the other side, the Spanish phrase “Mi amigo no tiene pelos en la lengua,” can be translated as: “my friend tells it like it is” or “my friend doesn’t mince words.” But the literal translation would be: “my friend has no hairs on his tongue.” Imagine seeing that phrase context-free in an English ad slogan!


Words can have many different connotations based on grammar, culture, context, etc. For this reason, Spanish content must not only be written in proper, fluent Spanish but also in fairly neutral Spanish.


There are as many different ways to speak Spanish as there are countries that use it as their primary language: 21. For example, “lentes” is the most common word for “eyeglasses” in most of Central or South America, but some countries prefer “gafas” or the more old-fashioned “anteojos.” In some countries, even different regions end up with different common word usages or interpretations.


So be incredibly cautious when writing Spanish language content, and resort to the most neutral phrasings to be understood by a wider range of Spanish-speaking search users. Definitely avoid translating your content verbatim. Instead, adapt existing copy into unique content that’s suited specifically to your audience, your purpose and the context at hand.

Creating AdWords Collateral and Marketing in Spanish

Yes, you have to be careful with direct translations. But remember, marketing in Spanish is rare for most U.S. companies looking to reach a general audience. For this reason, competition for Spanish-language keywords is much lower, leading to CPCs as low as 75% less than the equivalent keyword term in English. If your staff has the talent to supply adequate content and the best display ads, the market is certainly there for the taking.


As marketing in Spanish becomes more complex and the need for bilingual paid search and video ad campaigns grows, leading companies like Google are finding ways to keep up.In the past, Google Ads allowed room for one line for headline text. Spanish is roughly 30% longer to write out than the English language, so this created a problem for writing those headlines. Now, Google Ads come with two lines of text for a total of 60 characters, making it easier for marketers to reach the Spanish-speaking audience in their first language — one they tend to respond to at a much more effective rate.

Does The Same Multilingual Strategy Work on Bing? Sadly, No

With Note that the Bing paid search platform differs in its ability to flexibly add or modify the user language settings for campaigns. Bing’s language targeting is at the adgroup level rather than the campaign level, and it can’t be adjusted once an adgroup has published.


If you wish to target multilingual users on Bing search platforms, then you will need to create new adgroups for every new language you intend to target.

Marketing in Spanish Lowers Your Cost Per Click (CPC)

Many marketers and AdWords users aren’t aware of the power and potential for their campaigns to effortlessly reach Hispanic audiences. Even if your campaign is written entirely in English, adding the option to display search ads to Spanish-default search users can provide huge returns. One study by Google estimated that targeting Spanish search interfaces could result in a 5.7% uplift in clicks at a 70% lower CPC.


So go ahead and start experimenting with language settings for your AdWords campaigns. Monitor your performance, and give us a call when you need to create, manage and maximize ROI with AdWords in Spanish and other multilingual campaigns.


¡Buena suerte!