I had the privilege of having a client come to me and ask me my thoughts on an ethical and business dilemma he is having in regards to his search marketing campaign. Let me start off by giving you a bit of vague background on the situation.
The company specializes in a very unique niche, manufacturing a product specifically for a need. What this means is that they will not sell a product off-the-shelf. They design solutions in the form of customized products based on a customer's problem. This type of detail requires that an engineer from the company speak with the prospect before a solution (i.e. product) can be designed. The company has engineers that speak the languages, English, German, and Hebrew.
The company is a big user of PPC engines; Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Second Tier PPC Engines. They want to target a wider market, because they know they can offer a solution to anyone in the world. The only issue is that they can not understand all the languages in the world, in order to be able to understand the problem, in order to formulate a solution (i.e. a product).
The idea of creating specialized landing pages in any other language outside of English, German or Hebrew sounded both good and bad. (Good) By creating these pages they can effectively provide an avenue for other markets to find them and the company's offerings. (Bad) Since they do not speak the language, (1) the prospect might feel deceived and (2) it will lead to unnecessary costs in translation and PPC spend.
So I decided to post a thread on this topic over at Search Engine Watch Forums. The responses were kind of contradictory to each other. Mikkel feels that you must be able to speak the native language to offer a product, such as this client is offering. Others believe that if the copy on the page explicitly notes that the company engineers do not speak that language and they must have an English, German or Hebrew speaking representative call the company - then it is perfectly ok.
Mikkel places a good logical statement down in the thread:
In my experience people search in the language they expect to be serviced in.