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Beyond Localization: Welocalize Acquires SearchStar

11 June 2019 

Welocalize’s latest acquisition highlights the industry’s need to move past localization and into new global services

Today’s news in the industry is that Welocalize has acquired SearchStar a firm specializing in digital media buying, analytics, and conversion, further increasing their already-impressive capabilities in the realm of digital marketing performance services. Combined with Welocalize’s recent acquisition of Adapt Worldwide, which enhanced Welocalize’s multilingual SEO offerings, this latest acquisition builds out Welocalize’s ability to offer global pay-per-click services.

The combination of native digital marketing expertise (Adapt and SearchStar) combined with the full force of Welocalize’s linguistic resources, creates a powerful offering for enterprise clients that are going global and need an integrated solution.

As of the date of publication (June 11th, 2019), this news is hot off the presses, so if you have not had a chance to check out the press release, then please feel free to do so here.

Industry observers will note that this is a continuation of the industry trend for larger (and sometimes smaller) localization services providers (LSPs) to strategically invest in expanding their service offerings.

Rather than seeking out partnerships or acquisition opportunities with other LSPs, Welocalize is looking to evolve past the traditional “language service provider.”

The language services industry continues to evolve. Enterprises are getting more strategic about how they spend their international budget, and LSPs are working harder to provide more comprehensive services.

The need for enterprises to invest strategically

Translation has never been the goal. Translation is a step towards a goal. Companies looking to expand internationally don’t define their quarterly goals based on how many words they translate or even how many languages they are translated into. They set goals based on market penetration, brand recognition, and international revenue. Localization may be an important step towards achieving these goals, but it is not (and never has been) the goal in and of itself.

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Companies that do business online can capture over 80% of the market by localizing into ten languages (plus English, of course). For each additional language translated, these companies will see a diminishing return on their investment. Rather than invest their limited budget into more markets, many ROI-driven companies are choosing to invest more into capturing deeper market share in their existing markets.

This means investing in services and activities above and beyond standard localization, such as:

  • Multilingual SEO
  • Geo-centric marketing strategies
  • International pay-per-click (PPC) strategies
  • Multimedia localization
  • In-market teams and local customer support
  • Improved UX and UA availability for priority markets

The list could go on…

The challenge is that globalization managers are often already stretched too thin. They need help.

In a recent survey of enterprise localization buyers, nearly two-thirds of enterprise globalization managers reported that they had a desire to outsource more tasks to their localization supply chain, with nearly half reporting a “strong” or “very strong” desire to do so. These companies want to spend more money with their vendors but are finding it difficult to do so.

The need for LSPs to evolve

The opportunity for LSPs is clear. By branching outside of traditional localization activities, they can diversify their service offering, add more value to their clients, and create new markets for themselves to compete.

Diversified service offerings

There has been (and will continue to be) a lot of speculation in the industry about just how much longer we can expect to be selling translation services before the machines come to take over our jobs and put us all out on the streets. This debate is well outside the scope of this article, but regardless of what you believe about the future of our industry, you can’t argue with the fact that it is important for a company to diversify a service offering.

Let us play the role of devil’s advocate and say that in 10 years, translation as we know it will cease to exist. If this were the case, then any LSP that will fail to evolve into additional services will find themselves bankrupt. While it is not Nimdzi’s position that this is how our industry is going to evolve, it is an interesting thought exercise nonetheless. More likely, translation as a practice will continue to exist indefinitely, albeit the human-driven tasks surrounding it will continue to evolve. Service providers will do well to keep an eye on this continued evolution, making sure to continuously develop new services.

Adding more (and deeper) value

LSPs that offer service upstream in the value chain are not just adding more value to their clients, but they are also able to add a deeper, better quality of value. Historically, clients tend to treat localization as an afterthought. It is at best a step to be taken at the end of a long process, whether that process is developing an app, launching a website, writing a book, or manufacturing a product. Rarely is localization seen as something that adds value itself.

What’s ironic about this, though, is that this attitude persists even as organizations are focusing more attention on global markets. With a growing percentage of revenue coming from international customers, companies are itching to invest more into satisfying these markets. We still can’t seem to get past our collective disdain for buying pay-by-the-word translations.

LSPs are in a unique position to help these companies invest into global markets by offering a whole range of services outside of traditional localization. The same client-side manager that is counting pennies in her translation budget may have a separate (and larger) budget for multilingual SEO or for targeted geographic marketing campaigns.

Creating new markets

Rather than responding to market demands and playing catch-up, LSPs have an opportunity to write their own success story.

By focusing less on the necessity of translation, and more on the opportunities provided by new services, LSPs can create new markets for themselves and sell services that they couldn’t even have imagined as little as 10 years ago.

LSPs need to remember that translation is not the goal. The goal is to launch new products. The goal is to reach new markets. The goal is to improve brand awareness and brand perception. LSPs are uniquely situated to help their clients accomplish these goals on a global scale.

Welocalize and SearchStar

Competitors and investors into the language services industry are smart to keep an eye on the direction Welocalize is heading. Traditionally, LSPs have been contracted to provide translation and localization services, but buyers have been hesitant to trust them with any higher-value tasks, such as multilingual digital marketing, SEO, and PPC. Welocalize is taking aggressive steps to gain a first mover advantage into a valuable, new service that will add value to their existing and future clients.

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