In today’s digital era, online advertising has become a fundamental component of business strategies worldwide. However, when it comes to reaching specific markets, language barriers can often pose significant challenges. One such obstacle exists for advertisers in Albania, Kosovo, and North Macedonia, as Google AdSense and Google Ads do not fully support the Albanian and Macedonian languages. This limitation hampers the ability of businesses to effectively target their audiences and taps into the immense potential of these emerging markets.
The Language Gap
Albanian and Macedonian are widely spoken in the Balkan region, with over 7 million people speaking Albanian and approximately 2 million speaking Macedonian. Despite their significance, these languages have been overlooked by major advertising platforms, including Google AdSense and Google Ads.
What usually happens is that when you try publishing an ad in Albanian or Macedonian, or try to advertise a webpage that is written in these languages, they get automatically rejected because the languages are not supported. Ostensibly, the reason behind the block is that Google cannot confirm that the ads are in unison with Google’s advertising policies – but, confusingly and frustratingly, some ads and website do manage to pass the filter, so the more likely reason is that the entire region is totally neglected by Google.
Challenges for Albanian and Macedonian advertisers
Advertisers in these countries face unique challenges:
- Limited Reach: The absence of Albanian and Macedonian language support on Google AdSense and Google Ads restricts the reach of online advertisements to these specific markets. Advertisers face difficulties in effectively conveying their messages to the local audience, ultimately hindering their ability to connect with potential customers.
- Reduced Ad Relevance: Without comprehensive language support, advertisers struggle to create relevant and engaging ads that resonate with the local population. Targeted advertising, a powerful tool for marketers, becomes less effective, resulting in suboptimal campaign performance and lower return on investment.
- Competing Platforms: Advertisers in Albania, Kosovo, and North Macedonia are forced to seek alternative advertising platforms that offer language support in order to effectively target their desired audience. This fragmented approach may require additional time, effort, and resources to manage multiple platforms simultaneously, complicating the advertising process.
- Missed Business Opportunities: The lack of language support hampers the growth of local businesses in these regions. Small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, face obstacles in reaching potential customers and expanding their customer base. This limitation not only affects businesses directly, but also hampers the overall economic development of these countries.
Addressing the Language Barrier
Some of the professionals in the region have already raised the alarm. One petition by the Albanian community on change.org has been running since May 2022 and has already collected more than 15,000 signatures.
The lack of the Albanian language in the Google Ads and Google Adsense platforms currently penalizes several countries, mainly Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. – the Change.org petition states.
Recognizing the significance of these markets, it is crucial for major advertising platforms, including Google, to expand their language support to include Albanian and Macedonian. By incorporating these languages into their systems, Google AdSense and Google Ads can unlock substantial opportunities for both advertisers and local businesses.
Macedonian efforts are trailing back to at least 2021, when one of the country’s leading associations for improving digital marketing – IAB Macedonia wrote a memo to Google demanding the inclusion of Macedonian and Albanian language in Google AdSense and Google Ads.
“This is another attempt to establish an official communication with Google and get a formal response on why these services are not available to Macedonian publishers, while YouTube Premium services are fully available.
On behalf of IAB Macedonia, we expect an official stance on your language policy concerning Macedonian and Albanian language support. Additionally, we would be happy to take all steps necessary and provide more data that you may require in order to change this policy.” – the memo concludes.
Ironically, Google gives coupons for the Google Ads program in Macedonian.
Getting Big Tech to accommodate smaller markets is no small feat. For years, Slovenia has been actively trying to persuade Apple, the only major mobile phone manufacturer without a Slovenian language interface, to include Slovenian among the language choices. Despite meetings and appeals to the company, no progress has been made thus far. So they decided to do something a bit more radical: require the inclusion of Slovenian language in all electronic consumer devices by law.
This echoes the recent ChatGPT ban in Italy, where OpenAI was required to add privacy disclosures and controls in order to protect minors.
Maybe the time has come for Albania, North Macedonia and Kosovo to get the attention they deserve in a similar way.