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The once traditional-media-focused nation has been seeing a dramatic shift to digital over the past few years. In this article, we compiled the latest trends surrounding online advertising in Japan and how to begin online promotions.
Japan has one of the most mature advertising markets in the world. It comes in third place for total media ad spending (USD 51.68 billion), just behind the USA (USD 285.21 billion) and China (USD 97.31 billion).
In a country that embraces consumerism, the Japanese audience is receptive to ads and is accustomed to being targeted daily. If you have ever been to Japan, you will know that billboards are everywhere in cities, and ads shout at you from every urban street corner or on public transportation. It is the norm, and the Japanese are used to it.
This also applies online. Celebrity endorsements and anthropomorphised animated characters are often seen in traditional and digital media.
However, for a nation known for its technology, it is surprisingly behind its Western counterparts in digital marketing.
Many traditional companies still value TV and magazine ads over anything online. Yet, in recent years, (and in the wake of COVID-19 and forced digital transformation at Japanese companies), Japan has finally started to catch up to the rest of the world. In fact, in 2021, total internet ad spend in Japan was 2,705 billion JPY (approx USD 23 billion), exceeding mass media ad spend (TV, newspapers, radio, magazines) for the first time.
Top digital trends in Japan include a continuous increase in digital ad spend, with many companies switching their focus to online marketing initiatives, influencer marketing and video content.
Here is a graph that breaks down Japan’s digital advertising spend. As you can see, the largest share goes to search advertising, followed by banner (display) ads, social media advertising, and video advertising.
In Japan, Google is not the only major search engine. The other popular search engine platform is Yahoo! JAPAN, which accounts for 13.81% of the market.
If you are promoting to businesses, Yahoo! JAPAN has the no.1 share of PC users. We laid out all the features of both Google and Yahoo! JAPAN and their differences in our blog post here →
For a holistic Japanese promotional strategy, we recommend advertising on both platforms to ensure maximum reach of Japanese internet users.
If brand awareness is your goal, then why not try running display ads on Yahoo! JAPAN, which we’ll talk more about later under Display Advertising?
Make sure to go over our beginner’s guide to the Japanese PPC market → for details on search and pay-per-click advertising.
Sponsored content and ads on social media are effective ways of promoting your brand, product or service to your audience.
Unlike PPC search ads, promotions on social media will help to build an online community in Japan. As is the same in other markets, it is essential to understand who your audience is and then choose which platforms to prioritise.
Here is a complete guide to social media in Japan → to better understand in detail how the Japanese use each of the popular platforms.
LINE is the number one messaging app and social media platform in Japan, with 95 million monthly users.
It’s a super app similar to WeChat and WhatApp with multiple features and functions. In fact, of the SNS used on smartphones, 83.4% of respondents from a study said they used LINE.
Businesses can also open an official account and use the interface for community management. LINE Ads use targeting features similar to Facebook and can appear on other apps within the LINE Ads Network.
For more information, please read our article on how to use LINE to promote your business to Japanese mobile users →
Japan’s most popular social networking site is Twitter, with 65 million monthly active users.
If you are targeting Japanese consumers, this is the platform for you to use to build your community and hear what your customers are saying. We particularly recommend promoted content on Twitter if you are selling a B2C product.
Instagram boasts a user base of 49 million in Japan. If you are a B2C brand with a target audience aged 18+, it should be your primary platform.
Selling on Instagram is also growing in popularity in Japan. Japanese users are three times more likely than other countries to view product details from shopping tags. Make sure to run sponsored ads here and partner with an influencer, as influencer marketing is widely popular in Japan.
Unlike most Western markets, Facebook is used for business connections (like LinkedIn) in Japan, with 15 million users.
If you have a B2B product or service, this should be considered as one of your social media platforms. Ensure to run promoted ads, accounts, and events in this space.
The best platform for display advertising in Japan is Yahoo! JAPAN.
It has the no.1 reach for PC users (beating Google), and you can reach 80% of mobile phone users in Japan. Accordingly, infeed ads on mobile apps have excellent CTRs and CVs. Brand panel ads on both PC and mobile get the most impressions, which is great for cost-effective brand awareness campaigns.
Source: Yahoo! JAPAN
No matter which type of advertising you choose, localisation is critical for a successful campaign in Japan.
As part of the SoftBank family and Yahoo! JAPAN’s official representative, DMFA provides free support to advertisers – both agencies and individual clients – on Yahoo! JAPAN.
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