07 Case Study

Global Advertising For An Online Auction Marketplace

International Expansion


A publicly-traded marketplace of online vehicle auctions requires media planning and buying across 9 countries and 3 continents. Recognizing a growing demand in emerging markets, the client sought Criterion Global for its specialty in international media planning and buying to test demand in identified emerging markets. The work that resulted created a framework for global advertising for an online auction marketplace. 

The Challenge

The selection of markets, including Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Russia, UAE and India, each carried unique challenges given the direct-response goals of the campaign, budgets available and campaign launch speed desired for initial market testing.

Additionally, users of the online auction marketplace, which focused on auto, were scattered across used vehicle dealers, dismantlers, rebuilders, exporters and, only in some cases, end users, making precise targeting a challenge with limited budgets for initial market testing.


Initial creative provided to Criterion Global was translated from English into each market’s dominant language. Yet this process required local knowledge to make it usable, as many standard English idioms simply do not translate.

For example, the client’s original copy communicated that the marketplace offered products “from A to Z,” using market-specific localized city names beginning with “A” and “Z”, to demonstrate the range of offering – appropriate for global advertising for an online auction marketplace.

Creative copy was meant to show the wide range of the auto offering, this proved problematic where the two locations weren’t geographically very far. Saying, for instance ‘We Sell Autos from Angola to Zambia’ isn’t compelling given they border one another. Criterion Global corrected these novice international marketing mistakes early on, with creatives optimized for each market.


The test markets’ populations ranged from 9M to 1.1B. Naturally, we needed to narrow our focus. It helped to understand that the client’s most valuable target prospect, with the greatest expectations of ROAS were B2B entities, rather than end users. 

We leveraged this insight to formulate intricate market-specific media planning and buying strategies across the 9 test markets. Media targeted business owners actively seeking cars and trucks as re-sellers, exporters and other “non-consumer” contexts, specifically using digital, print, and on one occasion in Lagos, Nigeria, out-of-home media.


During the initial 6 month introduction period, this international plan generated strong return on ad spend, as measured by marketplace brand lift, growth in active auction participation by country (avg. daily users), and ultimately, online marketplace sales.

Though some markets in this multi-market test proved were insufficiently lucrative to merit long term investment, returns generated on the effort as a whole proved that expanded investments in global advertising for this online auction marketplace were quite profitable. 

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