Reaching Japan’s Powerful App Market Through Ad Creatives


The land of the rising sun continues to fascinate people from around the world. Japan is a nation known as a frontrunner in technology, from pocket calculators to robots. The country has adapted as industries have shifted, and right now there’s a big move towards programmatic advertising. 

Japan accounted for 15.4% of global app revenues in 2018. The country’s mobile app engagement is strong and continues to show potential based on the growth score for each app category. The increase in smartphone users is steady, with forecasts showing a penetration of 57.6% of the country’s population. 

How can you make the most of this opportunity? Advertisements are a major factor in mobile campaigns. That’s why putting thought and effort into designing ads to reach a foreign market is key to a successful strategy. Creative preferences are different for every country, so here are some tips on how to tap into Japan’s app market through ad creatives:

#1 Improve reach through localization 
Japan is a largely native-speaking country. The majority, if not all, of its 126 million citizens speak Japanese. Research shows that 70% of Japanese consumers favor Japanese-language websites - localizing your ads will greatly help to reach this market. Localized creatives also often outperform their English equivalents in both conversion rate (CR) and click-through rate (CTR) by 86%. 

Our own data shows localization works. Return on investment was three times more when a localized ad was initiated and the CTR of a localized ad was 20% greater than a non-localized ad.


#2 Pair flashy creatives with a significant message 
Grab your audiences’ attention with flashy or loud ad creatives. Design your ads so they are distinctive from the rest that users see every day. You can make your ad creatives even more appealing by adding a relevant message that will speak to your audience. Help your message stand out by highlighting a certain word or phrase through animation or other creative means. For more on flashy creatives, check out this article.


#3 Display cute characters or mascots 
Play into the captivating culture of Japan by winning the hearts of your target users by showing cute characters or mascots. Japan has a long history of creating charming and emotionally appealing characters. “Loose characters,” more commonly known as yuru-chara, are immensely popular and now used by companies as part of their marketing strategy. 

In your next mobile ad campaign, put the spotlight on any cute characters that your app already has or design one that could help you achieve higher engagement.

japan-game-mascots     japan-shopping-mascot

#4 Highlight app features
You can entice users by showing them what to expect when they use your app. Make use of characters or other unique features on your ads to help them better visualize what your app contains. A gaming app could showcase the game’s top characters; a dating app could display filter options. 

japan-game-features     japan-dating-features

There are a variety of strategies you can utilize when designing ads for a certain market. In the case of Japan, hitting close to home is an approach with a lot of potential for high audience engagement. Lastly, to measure which creative strategy works, test variations and keep in mind the important KPIs for your campaign!


Topics: Creative Insights