Corinne is the Social Media and Content Lead at BLEND. She is dedicated to keeping global business professionals up to date on all things localization, translation, language and culture.
We’re kicking off our 2024 edition of our Localization Leaders series with Debora Cohen, AppsFlyer’s Head of Localization. AppsFlyer is a mobile marketing analytics and attribution platform that serves businesses around the world and is available in 10 languages.
Join us as Debora shares how AI impacts her localization processes, what AppsFlyer’s greatest localization strength is, and which localization challenges to consider when expanding to new markets.
Read the full interview, or watch the videocast below:
Can you start by telling us a bit about your career path and how you ended up in your current position as the Head of Localization at AppsFlyer?
Sure, I’ll just give you a very brief summary. I was born and raised in Spain, and from a very young age I moved to the UK. I lived between London and Manchester where I completed my studies in translation and interpreting. As part of my studies, I also went to Italy so it was a very interesting experience altogether.
Then I moved to Israel twelve years ago, and I’ve been living here in Tel Aviv since then. I joined AppsFlyer almost six years ago and it’s been quite a ride, I have to say.
Want to hear more about Debora’s background and professional journey? Check out our interview with Debora from 2021.
What role does localization play at AppsFlyer and how is your team structured?
What we do here at AppsFlyer is quite interesting because I like to define our localization department as a service provider. And in fact, we actually provide services to the whole organization. And what do I mean by that? I’m actually sitting in the marketing department, but we also give support to the CSM team and the sales department. I also manage the localization efforts for KB (knowledge base), product, and UI.
We also have a learning and development team that just joined us very recently, so we also give support to that team. So it’s a very active role within the organization, very busy, very dynamic. There’s always loads of stuff going on and it’s so interesting, I have to say.
So what would you say is AppsFlyer’s greatest localization strength?
This is obviously a personal opinion, but I think it’s the fact that we are very well organized. We have very robust and strong processes because at the end of the day, localization is all about logistics and operations.
There’s a lot of tools that we need to use and if we don’t have the right workflows and processes, it’s very difficult to handle the amount of volume that we have every day. So we have a very good structure and we’re very well organized. We use Asana, we have very clear guidelines and instructions, and we use templates.
And because we work with so many different stakeholders within the organization, we have to make sure that everyone understands how we work, even if they don’t really know us. So I would define very strong processes as the best, most successful localization.
Did you find that there were any markets that were particularly challenging to break into?
In my case specifically, I love working with all regions. Some of them are easier to work with and some of them are a bit more challenging, and I guess that’s because of the culture. It’s usually down to cultural differences, but sometimes it can also be the challenge of time differences.
You have some regions that are really far away from your mentality, the way that you work. They have completely different processes and they have different ways of working.
In any case, I would say that cultural differences sometimes make it a little bit more challenging than others. But in general, we’ve found a very good balance within the company between the different team members and our 20 offices all over the world. We’re very close with the whole team, we have to be. The headquarters is here in Israel, but we do have a marketing team in each office.
So we have to make sure the communication is open, it’s transparent, and that we’re on the same page.
Do you have any advice for either fellow localization professionals or for people who are interested in entering the field?
Yeah, of course! I’ve been in this profession for so long, nearly 14 years now. So I do have a few ideas on the top of my head. People might think it’s kind of obvious what I’m going to say, but it’s just so important. You really need to be very aware of cultural differences.
Why am I mentioning this? It’s because people take other cultures for granted and you think that because something works very well in an English-speaking country, straight away it’s going to also work in GCR or in Japan or in Thailand or wherever you’re focusing your effort in, right? And it doesn’t necessarily work like that.
So for me, the first piece of advice that I give to people is make sure you understand who your target audience is. And I mean it from the cultural point of view because again, what works in English doesn’t necessarily translate straight away to the relevant language. So that is one super important one.
Networking – it’s also very essential, and this applies to all professions, not just for localization. But because it’s such a small niche, we all know each other. That’s why it’s also very important to make sure that we attend conferences and online events, especially during these times where we’re still working in this hybrid mode. So make sure that you’re connected to people and that you’re in touch and know what’s going on.
One more thing I want to highlight is to always try to be up to date on what’s going on. The world is running, it’s going really fast and there are so many advancements, like AI for example. You need to be up to date and you need to know what’s going on.
You need to know how to utilize all these new resources and new technologies. And so make sure that you know what’s outside and that you will be able to make the best use out of it.
That’s great advice, and we’ll touch on AI again soon. Before that, do you have any advice for a brand that’s going global and is thinking of building a localization team for the first time?
That’s a very tricky question because you don’t have a set rule for everyone. It depends on many different factors. It depends on the size of the business and how many markets they have, what’s the ARR? You need to do a lot of research before you start understanding what the localization needs will be.
So what works really well for AppsFlyer might not work at all for the company that works next door or even for our competitors. Because each company is different, the products are different, even the language.
Take AppsFlyer, for example. We deal with analytics and mobile attribution. It’s all very technical content, right? SDKs, APIs, etc. When it comes to all this very technical stuff, you also need to find very relevant and specific translators for the job.
So this question is always super tricky because we will have to look into every single organization and discover their needs and what will be required for their localization. There’s no such a straightforward answer, I’m afraid.
That’s fair. Jumping back to AI, it’s obviously a really big deal in our industry. How does AI impact your day to day, specifically as a localization professional? And do you have any tips on how to use it effectively for localization processes?
My personal opinion is that it’s like everything in life, you have the positive and the negative side of it. I’m a firm believer that you have to take advantage of whatever it is out there. You need to make sure that you’re utilizing it as best as possible. And this is what we are trying to do.
We do use AI because we use a TMS at the moment, and it has some features that use AI. People who are not very involved or aren’t very familiar with localization, which sometimes happens to upper management, might think that with AI you can just replace human beings and the in-house translators that we have and that AI can do the whole job. And I do have to say something about that.
While AI is fantastic, and it’s a great tool, and I one hundred percent believe we should all be utilizing it, that doesn’t mean that you can replace humans with this new technology that just came out.
And I’ll tell you why. For us, specifically at AppsFlyer, localization is very complex. It’s always complex for all companies, but for us, it’s super complex because it’s a lot of, as I mentioned before, processes. We use a lot of technologies and different tools. We have so many different integrations, and then we have to consider design as well and our many stakeholders, which means that the translation part of the work itself, I would say it’s only like 20 or 30% of the overall work that my team does. So can we use AI for this 20-30%? Yes, 100%. It speeds up the translation process. You save 50% of your time on translations, but that’s it. That’s only that part of the process.
Then you need to remember that you still need to QA and you need to actually implement the content into the right tools. This is something that a machine can’t do, at least not yet. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow with all these advancements, so you need to take it with a pinch of salt.
Can we use it? 100%. Are we using it? Yes, of course. But it doesn’t necessarily replace the work that a human person can actually do.
It’s all about striking a balance. Thanks, Debora. Let’s move on to our rapid-fire questions. Firstly, what’s your favorite language?
What’s your favorite localization tool?
Currently it’s the Phrase TMS.
What’s your favorite place that you’ve traveled to?
This is difficult. How can you pick one? I would say Trieste. It’s a place where I lived a while ago.
What’s the best localization advice you’ve received?
This is also a tricky one. I think the networking one, to be connected.
What’s the most successful market you’ve invested in?
What is your localization nightmare?
Because I’m a very organized person, I think the worst for me is when they don’t give me enough time to work on a project.
And who is your localization role model?
It’s actually also a Spanish girl that’s also from the south of Spain. We have very similar backgrounds and stuff. Her name is Cristina Triviño, she’s been in the industry for many years. She’s fantastic.
Lastly, which brand is your localization crush?
I think it’s Netflix. They’re doing an amazing job.
Absolutely, I have to agree. So before we go, are there any localization projects you have coming up at AppsFlyer that you want us to look out for? Anything that’s not confidential?
It’s not really confidential, but we’re working on a thousand projects right now. We’re currently booking them, so I can’t share much information, but all I can say is that H1 is coming strong with lots of projects in the pipeline, big plans, and we’re very excited about it.
Sounds great! Looking forward to seeing that. And thank you again, Debora, for taking the time to speak with us and for joining us again on Localization Leaders to cover some different topics.