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What is LINE? The Ultimate LINE Guide

Do you have a business you would like to promote in Japan? If your goal is to effectively reach the Japanese audience, then advertising on LINE Japan may be the best solution for you. There are several ways foreign companies can use the LINE platform to leverage their marketing campaigns in Japan. Here is the ultimate guide for non-Japanese companies wishing to advertise on LINE Japan.

Why is LINE so popular in Japan?

LINE is the no.1 messenger app in Japan with over 95 million Japanese users. There are several reasons behind its success, including its unique animated stickers and other integrated services. Unlike WhatsApp, its Western counterpart, LINE is a super app with various offerings. Furthermore, it offers other features (LINE Voom, LINE News, LINE Pay, LINE manga, LINE Game, LINE Shopping, etc.) apart from messaging also, advertising opportunities for businesses wanting to promote their product or service in Japan.

Engage with fans and customers via your LINE Official Account

A LINE Official Account allows you to have a business profile page in LINE, where you can: update ‘friends’ on promotions, make posts in Timeline, increase online engagement with customers, send direct messages for customer support and share coupons for special deals. You can find further details on LINE Official Account here or in the latest LINE Business Guide.

Reach Japanese mobile users with LINE Ads

With  94 million MAU, LINE Ads is the most effective way to reach Japanese mobile users. Similar to CPC ads on other popular social media platforms, your LINE Ad will appear in different locations within the LINE app as well as the LINE Ads Network, which includes an array of other apps. You can pay per click on banner ads or by impression for highly effective video ads. You can also define your target audience according to user demographics and interests as well as lookalike audiences. Find out more on how businesses can use LINE Ads in Japan

How LINE compares to Facebook in Japan

LINE has 92 million MAU in Japan, while Facebook only has 15.55 million. Yet, because of Facebook’s global popularity, many businesses run Japanese advertising campaigns on Facebook without researching which social media channels their target audience is using. You can find out more on why LINE Ads might be a better digital strategy for your Japanese campaigns over Facebook Ads. 

LINE Advertising Case Studies

This Japanese game company successfully used LINE Ads to gain new customers and bring back dormant users. Make sure to read about their tips on how to increase CTR by experimenting with ad creatives. 

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L’Occitane has found an effective way to increase both online sales as well as digital membership cards using LINE Japan. They were able to offset their lower in-store sales with their online campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Waqoo Inc is a direct to consumer cosmetics company. Their main brand, Hada Nature, includes skincare, makeup, and hair care products. Waqoo started running LINE marketing campaigns for Hada Nature in September 2018, creating successful video advertisements. We spoke with Torayu Tsunoda from Waqoo’s Business Management Department, and Hiroki Asai, Marketing Division Manager at marketing agency Bleach, about their creative process and video production work.

SABON Japan (SABON) offers a variety of natural body and hair care products. It opened its LINE Official Account in 2019, and regards LINE as the cornerstone of its customer relationship management (CRM) strategy. It focuses on one-to-one communication by linking membership information with users’ LINE accounts. We spoke to the company’s E-commerce & Digital Marketing Manager, Yumiko Nishi, about its efforts to increase customers via LINE and its secret to increasing e-commerce sales. 

Start advertising on Japan’s most popular social media platform

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In order to start advertising on LINE, you will need to open a LINE Official Account and LINE Ads Account. Your LINE Ads Account will need to link to your LINE Official Account.

How to open a LINE Official Account in Japan

Register for a LINE Official Account (unverified)

Both individuals and businesses can open this type of account. The basic features are the same as verified accounts, and a Premium ID can be bought to switch to a paid plan.

>Open an unverified account

Register for a LINE Official Account (verified)

Only available for companies with a business registered in Japan that undergo a strict approval process by LINE Japan.

>Open a verified account

LINE Official Account (premium)

Only available for select individuals and businesses that undergo a strict approval process by LINE Japan.

How to get started with LINE Ads in Japan

Register for a LINE Ads Account

Currently, LINE Japan only offers overseas advertisers prepaid accounts using a Japanese credit card. For a post-pay account, it is very difficult for overseas advertisers to pass LINE Japan’s pre-approval process. In the case that you require help opening a LINE Ads Account, we at DMFA can help. Depending on the credit check results, we can invoice you for the ad spend and open an ad account on your behalf. 

>Open a LINE Ads Account

>Open a LINE Ads Account through DMFA

LINE Ads account pre-approval

You can apply to have your website pre-screened for LINE Ads approval. The application process may be complex without a Japanese representative or contact at LINE Japan. 

>LINE Ads pre-screening form (in Japanese only)

Some industries/services that cannot advertise on LINE Japan

  • Religious institutions
  • Beauty salons (some exceptions may apply)
  • Gambling (excluding public competitions and public lotteries)
  • Adult
  • Dating sites (some exceptions may apply)
  • Multi-level marketing companies
  • Detective services
  • Tobacco, electronic cigarette
  • Weapons
  • Political parties
  • Medical services and clinics (some exceptions may apply)
  • Unapproved drugs and medical devices
  • Money-lending businesses such as consumer finance, pawn shops (some exceptions may apply)
  • Internet-related businesses (e.g., information products, self-development seminars)
  • Financing such as fund-raising, donations and crowdfunding (some exceptions may apply)

Useful links 

LINE Business Guide Oct 22-March 2023 (English)

Line Ads Guideline (Japanese)

LINE Ads – Basic Rules for Creative Screening (English)

LINE Ads: Tips on crafting a perfect creative (English)

As you can see, most LINE resources are in Japanese only, and it can be challenging for overseas businesses to open a LINE Ads account – but we can help! Do not hesitate to contact our team of bilingual Japanese digital marketing experts for additional information, support, or management of LINE Ads or a LINE Official Account in Japan. 

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