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LINE Ads in Japan – How to target your audience

Are you looking for an effective way to reach a large audience through digital campaigns in Japan? LINE Ads is a platform available on the country’s most popular communication app. With 94 million monthly active users (as of February 2023), LINE Ads offers a wide range of targeting to ensure your ads are delivered to the correct audience.

However, to truly maximise the potential of LINE Ads, it’s crucial to understand the delivery and targeting options available. 

In this article, we walk you through the LINE Ads targeting options and settings, and help you to deliver ads to the Japanese audience effectively.

1. LINE Japan Ads Platform

LINE Ads is a powerful ad distribution platform that leverages the reach and capabilities of Japan’s most popular communication app. With 94 million monthly active users, representing approximately 72% of the Japanese population, LINE Ads offers a wide range of opportunities to reach users across a diverse set of placements. These include “Talk List”,  at the top of the chat section, or “LINE VOOM”, a timeline where users can enjoy short videos.

LINE Ads also boasts impressive engagement metrics, meaning that your ads have the potential to reach a massive audience. This includes users of a wide range of age groups, through channels such as LINE NEWS, one of the largest news services in Japan.

One of the key advantages of LINE Ads is the ability to target users based on attributes such as age, gender, location, interests, and more, using LINE’s vast behavioural dataset. 

This, combined with the ability to reach users who cannot be reached through other social media platforms, makes LINE Ads a highly effective tool for advertisers looking to maximise their impact in the Japanese market. Whether you’re looking to reach a specific demographic or want to deliver ads to users with a particular set of interests, LINE Ads offers a wealth of targeting options to help you achieve your advertising goals.


Social media usage in Japan (mobile phone users) Data based on an internet survey conducted in July 2022 gathering 20,000 participants aged 15-69.

*LINE Ads leverages the rich audience data available through LINE and its family services to enable highly effective targeting of advertisements. This data is categorised based on a variety of factors, including gender, age, area information registered by LINE users, their behaviour trends, browsing history of LINE content, and exposure to advertisements.

The results provide advertisers with valuable insights into their target audience, without compromising the privacy of individual users. This information is based on the users’ purchasing experience, and is estimated statistically, meaning that specific individuals cannot be identified.


2. LINE Ads – main distribution methods

LINE Ads offers three main distribution methods for delivering advertisements: “Segment Distribution,” “Audience Distribution,” and “Similar Distribution.” To ensure the efficient delivery of ads, it is crucial to select the appropriate distribution method and set appropriate targeting based on the campaign’s goals.

  1. Segment Distribution: reach users through specific segments

This method allows advertisers to distribute ads by specifying segments, based on the audience data available through LINE and its family services.  

  • Attributes: marital status, children, income, mobile carries, etc.
  • Age: from under 14 to over 65 years old.
  • Gender: male/female
  • Behaviour: TV viewing frequency, career change history, conversion history, gaming habits, relocation history
  • Interests: choose from over 31 categories
  • Location: prefecture, city, residential area, place of work, or current location

The Segment Distribution method allows for targeted advertisements based on factors such as age, gender, location, and interests. By carefully setting appropriate targeting options, ads can be displayed to the desired target audience, leading to a cost-effective delivery.

However, it’s important to be mindful of the level of detail in targeting settings. If the settings are too specific, the target audience will be limited, reducing the population of users who will receive the ads. To ensure optimal results, we recommend starting with broad targeting and gradually narrowing it down as the campaign progresses.

Please see below for a detailed description of available audience segments.

Segment type Details
Location Ad delivery can target or exclude a specific region: prefecture, city, residential area, place of work, or current location
Age Ad delivery can be divided by age group, from those under 14 to those over 65 years old.

Age groups:

Under 14,

15-19 years old,

20-24 years old,

25-29 years old,

30-34 years old,

35-39 years old,

40-44 years old,

45-49 years old,

50-54 years old,

55-59 years old,

60-64 years old,

65 years and older.

Gender Ad delivery can be specified to a user’s gender (man/woman).
OS In addition to Android OS and iOS, it is possible to target specific versions of each operating system.
Interests It is possible to target users based on their interests. In addition to the list below, more interest segments are being developed:

  • Gaming
  • Digital Devices/Home Appliances
  • Sports
  • Work/Business
  • Fashion
  • Home/Interior/Gardening
  • TV/Programmes
  • Music
  • Education/Learning/Qualifications
  • Finance
  • Health
  • Entertainment
  • Shopping
  • Books/Manga
  • Food/Drinks
  • Beauty/Cosmetics
  • Travel
  • Automobiles
Behaviour LINE offers a wide range of targeting based on user behaviour. Please see the examples below:

  • TV Viewing Frequency: High/Average /Low
  • Career Change: Changed careers in the past 2 years/Did not change careers in the past 2 years
  • Conversion: High website conversion/High app installation rate
  • Gaming habits: Adventure game player/Casual game player/RPG game player
  • Mobile Device Change: Changed mobile devices in the past 2 years/Did not change mobile devices in the past 2 years
  • Relocation: Likely/not likely to relocate
  • Relocation history: Relocated within the last 3 months/Relocated within the last 6 months
Attributes Further targeting options based on user attributes:

  • Marital status: Married/Single
  • Children: has/doesn’t have children
  • Mobile Carrier: NTT DoCoMo/au/Softbank/Rakuten Mobile
  • Estimated Annual Income: Below the top 51%/Within the 21% to 50%/Within the 11% to 20%/Within the top 10% of incomes
  • Occupation: Full-time worker/Part-time worker/Stay-at-home spouse

     2. Audience Distribution: reach users based on their online behaviour

Audience distribution is a powerful tool which leverages users’ online behavioural data, such as site visit history and product purchase history, to target users who are more likely to convert. This results in more efficient advertising, with a lower cost per acquisition (CPA).

One of the benefits of this method is that it can be used for retargeting. By targeting users who have previously visited your site, you can remind them of your products or services and encourage them to take further action. This can be especially effective for users who have shown an interest in your products or services, but haven’t yet made a purchase.

In addition to site visit and product purchase history, audience distribution can also use in-app data and LINE friend information from LINE Official Accounts. This helps to expand your reach and even get to users who may not have visited your site before.

To take advantage of audience distribution, you’ll need to install a “LINE Tag” on your site. This will allow you to collect the necessary data and create audiences based on user behaviour. 

For more information on how to use LINE Tags, be sure to check out this guide (Japanese only), or contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our LINE experts.

Please see below for more details about available audience types.

Audience type Details
Website Visitors Website visitors based on LINE Tag tracking information, as well as audience based on website events such as in-site purchases.
Mobile app users Audience based on events that occur within the app, such as users who open the app or make purchases via the app.
IDFA/AAID Audience based on the IDFA/AAID data.
Phone numbers Audience based on the users’ phone numbers. You can add or update audiences later on the edit page.
Email addresses Audience based on the mailing list. You can add or update audiences later on the edit page.
LINE Official Account Friends Audience based on your LINE Official Account friends or blocked friend lists.
Lookalike audience Find users similar to the audience you’ve already created and expand your audience size. You can select user similarity from 1% to 15% or enable auto-optimisation mode.
Video viewers Audience based on users who watch selected video content. You can specify the playback rate of the user.
Image click audience By specifying a campaign ID, you can create an audience based on users who have clicked on images used in that campaign.


      3. Similar Audience Distribution: find new audiences similar to your customers

Similar distribution is a method that searches for users similar to the specified source audience from within LINE, expands the audience size, and distributes advertisements.

For example, by using a similar distribution with users who have a history of purchasing products, it is possible to reach new users who are also likely to purchase the product. 

Similar distribution can be set to “Automatic” or “Manual”. If set to “Manual”, you can specify the size of the similar audience between 1% and 15%.

A lookalike audience size of 1% will have limited distribution but will be more similar to the source audience. The higher the degree of similarity, the higher the probability of conversion. However, the audience size will be smaller.

A lookalike audience size of 15% results in higher distribution and lower similarity to the source audience. The lower the similarity, the less likely the users are to take action on your ad.

Audience Size Range Description
1% High similarity to source audience user.

High chance of conversion.

Narrow audience range.

15% Low similarity to source audience.

Low chance of conversion.

Wide audience range.


3. Case Studies

When distributing LINE Ads, targeting varies depending on the campaign goals and audience. Below, we discuss 3 different examples of how companies have utilised LINE’s delivery settings in order to drive better results:

Real Estate company

  • Goal: reach residents in the neighbourhood 
  • Real estate agent: We are launching a campaign during the busy moving season. We want people living in the neighbourhood to visit our website.
  • Campaign goal: Reach people living in the neighbourhood, Have them visit the website and read information
  • Best solution: Segment distribution

This community-based real estate company wants to announce campaign information to the local audience. By targeting users who are both located in the specific city and in the age group where there are many single-person households, the ad will have a higher chance of reaching users who are interested in rental properties.

Additionally, targeting users who are interested in real estate or renting will further increase the relevance of the ad and improve its chances of being seen and acted upon.

Targeting settings:

  • Location: Set the target area to “xxx city”.
  • Demographic: Set the target age group to “20s and 30s”.
  • Interest: Set the target interest to “Real Estate” or “Renting”.

Delivery method:

  • Segment Distribution

Game Company

  • Goal: announce a new game release to frequent players and gamers
  • Game developer: We are releasing a new game next month. We want to reach people who love playing games, so they can download our new title.
  • Campaign goal: Spread awareness about the new game release, Get as many game downloads as possible right after the release
  • Best solution: Segment distribution + Audience distribution

This gaming company wants to announce the release of their new title to as many users as possible.

By targeting both users who are interested in games and users who have previously shown interest in the company by visiting its website, it can maximise the reach and impact of its ad campaign.

The broad distribution to users who are interested in games through audience segment distribution can help increase visibility and generate initial interest in the new game. Meanwhile, the targeted distribution to users who have visited the company’s site can provide them with more detailed information and a clear call to action, such as pre-ordering the new game or signing up for updates.

Targeting settings:

  • Interest: Set the target interest to “Games”.
  • Demographic: Set the target age group to “Teenagers” or “Young Adults”, as these groups tend to have a higher interest in gaming.
  • Behaviour: set the target to users who have previously visited the company’s website

Delivery method: 

  • Segment distribution – for users in “games” interest segment
  • Audience distribution (retargeting) – for users who have previously visited the website

Cram school

  • Goal: increase the number of student applicants
  • Cram school owner: New student enrollment is not going as well as we expected. We want to increase the number of people enrolling for courses and requesting pamphlets.
  • Campaign goal: Increase number of new students, Increase the number of distributed pamphlets.
  • Best solution: Audience delivery (retargeting) + similar delivery

This cram school wants to increase the number of new students.

By combining audience distribution based on user behaviour data and similar distribution, the cram school can effectively reach two groups of users who are likely to be interested in their services.

Users who have visited the cram school’s site but did not request a pamphlet may still be considering the school as an option, and targeting them with an ad can help rekindle their interest. Meanwhile, users who are similar to those who have requested pamphlets in the past, are likely to be highly interested in the school and more likely to convert into new students.

It is important to note that the targeting settings should be adjusted based on the specific needs and goals of the cram school. For example, the similar audience size can be set to a lower percentage for a more similar audience and a higher percentage for a larger audience.

Targeting settings:

  • Custom Audience: Set the target audience to “Users who have visited the cram school’s website but did not request a pamphlet”.
  • Similar Distribution: Set the source audience to “Users who have requested a pamphlet from the cram school’s website”.

Delivery method:

  • Audience delivery (retargeting): to reach users who have previously visited the cram school’s website 
  • Similar delivery: to reach users similar to those who have previously requested a pamphlet from the cram school’s website.

It is important to note that targeting alone is not enough to guarantee success in ad campaigns. It is also necessary to create appealing and informative ads and creatives that can grab the attention of the target audience and effectively communicate the campaign information.

Get started with LINE Ads

As part of the SoftBank Group, DMFA is LINE’s official partner. Our team of bilingual Japanese digital marketing experts offers full support and management of LINE Ads and LINE Official Accounts. 

To get started with LINE Ads, please get in touch.

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