In the era of hyper-targeted performance advertising and country specific KPIs, it is easy to fall into the trap of only hiring creators with highly country-specific audiences – even when your product is essentially global or available in a very big part of the world.
This can easily happen e.g. if you have country- or region-specific marketing teams managing the process. However, this approach can substantially hurt performance because it ignores the actual behavior of creators’ audiences and causes you to miss out on many opportunities.
This post covers why country-specific targeting with YouTube creators is usually a bad idea, and what are the exceptions where it can make sense.
Why geo targeting happens
First of all, we need to define what we mean by geo or country targeting with creators. A creator can have viewers from any country in the world, so when it comes to creator marketing, geo targeting means that you only hire creators who have a big enough percentage of their viewers from a specific country or region. For example, you might only hire creators who have 50% or more of their viewers in the United States.
The most common reason why advertisers end up using geo targeting too much is organizational: influencer marketing is often run by local teams who focus on a specific region or country. Because of this setup, each team might only be interested in getting views from their own region, or they might only have budget authority to pay for creators that have a heavy presence in their market.
The second reason is experience from other marketing channels. In many other channels such as paid search or social ads, you typically have target KPIs and budgets per market, so it makes sense to split campaigns along geographies as well.
However, even social platforms advise against this kind of unnecessary splitting nowadays if you have customers across the globe. For example Meta offers things like bid multipliers and cross-border advertising solutions that help you customize your creative and bidding inside the same campaign without needing to split the audience unnecessarily.
The third reason is limited product availability. If your product is only available in a single or a few countries, it rarely pays off to invest in marketing outside of those geographies. This is in fact one of the very few reasons when geo targeting actually makes sense with creators.
When you start out with creator marketing, it is tempting to follow the same logic as in other channels for the sake of simplicity, even if it wouldn’t bring the best results. But why should you avoid this kind of approach with creators?
YouTube creators have global audiences
To put it plain and simple: if you have a product that is available in many countries, only focusing on creators that heavily serve a particular country is usually a mistake. By their nature, creators are surprisingly global.
This doesn’t just apply to creators that speak languages used across the globe like English or Spanish, but also for creators making content in other languages.
A large number of people that speak languages officially used in one or a few countries at most live across the globe. On top of this, many creators provide subtitles for their international audiences, so viewers can enjoy the content even if they don’t speak that particular language.
The amount of creators with 20% or more of their audience in the US is at least 5x that of creators with 50% or more of their audience in the US
This does not mean you shouldn’t hire creators that have most of their audience in a single country at all – you definitely should. But you should not leave out creators that have only some (e.g. 10-40%) of their audience in a specific country. We’ll discuss the best way to do this later in this post.
To give you an idea of what this means in terms of scale: the amount of creators that have 20% or more of their audience in the US is at least 5 times higher than the amount of creators that have 50% or more of their audience in the US (based on Matchmade’s internal analysis). This shows that lowering your country-specific requirements can already make a huge difference in the reach you can achieve in a specific country.
When should you use geo targeting with creators?
There are only a few situations where focusing on very specific geos makes sense. First is product availability. If you are selling a product or have an app available only in a specific country or set of countries, it makes sense to only focus your marketing efforts into these markets.
If you have country-specific app versions or webstores, it can also make sense to focus on country specific creators. However, this can also easily be solved by having the creator provide links to different country-versions of apps in their video or setting up automatic redirection based on a visitor’s location on your webstore for example. This way, you won’t miss out on any potential creators but still send people to the correct local version of your product.
How to run multi-country campaigns
Price views per country
When hiring creators with global audiences, you need to account for target audiences in different countries having different lifetime values. The best way to do this is pricing views per country differently.
To do this successfully, you also need to know the view share each creator typically receives on their videos per country so you can make sensible offers.
This can be an arduous process when done manually, but Matchmade can handle this automatically and pay each creator a different rate per country for the views that matter to you.
Try worldwide targeting
If your product is truly global and available pretty much everywhere in the world, you should also try global targeting. The easiest way to do this is to set a certain price level for views from your most important core markets, and then offer a lower fee for the rest.
Worldwide targeting with YouTube creators can be surprisingly cost-effective and allows you to hire creators of all kinds very efficiently. They will also take care of localizing the content for you as in most cases you can still provide the creative brief in English.
This approach is similar to a worldwide targeting strategy for Facebook ads where you can get a large number of conversions very cost-effectively by targeting all English speakers across the globe, maybe customize a few of the ad elements with country-specific variations (using dynamic creative), and exclude a few countries that you know won’t perform.
Use country-specific audience requirements sparingly
Country-specific audience requirements can make sense, but you should not set them too high. The best approach is typically to set a low (think 10-20%) threshold for only the most crucial markets, as raising it higher can easily make you miss out on great creators, hurting your reach and making your campaign less effective.
Creators meeting this threshold can be hired at scale with solutions like Matchmade and easily supplemented by hiring bigger creators that are well known in your most crucial markets.
Use joint campaigns between regional teams, invoice separately
The best way to work with creators that have audiences across markets that different regional marketing teams are responsible for is to hire them for a joint campaign. The main thing you need to ensure is that the views (and potentially conversions) they receive are tracked by country. This way, the costs can be shared between and results tracked for each team separately.
This is tedious to do manually, but by using Matchmade creators with global audiences can be hired for a single campaign that is shared across teams so that we automatically price and invoice specific countries and regions separately. This is based on the views each market accumulates so there is no double-paying and each team only has to pay for activations in their specific region.
This way, the only thing the teams need to agree on is the creator brief and per-market pricing, and we handle the rest. It also removes the need for separate, joint budgets across teams that might be hard to get approval for.
Validate and readjust as needed
After the campaign, you should look at the results on multiple levels: how did the campaign do overall and per region in terms of views and conversions? Are there markets where you should be investing more and markets where you should be investing less? Then you simply adjust the creator hiring for future campaigns according to these findings.
A note on English-speaking creators
It should be noted that English-speaking creators are a bit of a special case, since they are typically viewed by people from all over the world, in English-speaking and non-English-speaking countries alike.
This causes some interesting phenomena, because many English-language creators do not have a heavy presence in a single country alone. The United States is somewhat of an exception to this. Simply due to the size of the country, there are more US creators that have a majority audience from their own country than in any other English-speaking market.
People from the US love to follow English-speaking creators from other countries as well, so it is not equally easy to find other English language countries with the same kind of majority audience share. It is for example much harder to find creators that have a majority of their audience in the UK or Canada simply because these creators have followers from all over the world.
We will release a separate follow-up article discussing best practices of working with English-speaking creators
To summarize, creators have surprisingly global audiences and not working with some creators simply because of this is very likely to hurt your performance. You should focus on hiring creators that reach people in many countries, but simply price the most valuable countries separately.
While there are a few special cases, where only hiring heavily country-specific creators makes sense, in a majority of cases you shouldn’t restrict yourself to working only with them .
Don’t let things such as organization structure or old habits from other marketing channels prevent you from maximizing performance and taking full advantage of creators as a medium. Once you are able to do this, they can become a powerful tool in your marketing toolkit.
If you are interested in working with global creators in a cost-effective way, or want to validate your current approach to creator marketing, get in touch. Our team is more than happy to help you plan your creator strategy for the future.