The State of Programmatic Advertising in Japan

BH Programmatic in Japan

Asia-Pacific (APAC) has become one of the fastest growing markets for programmatic advertising. The country that stands out with one of the most mature advertising markets not only in APAC but throughout the world is Japan, with advertising expenditures surpassing 45 billion dollars. 31% of publishers are generating over 40% of their revenue via programmatic across Japan and Asia-Pacific (JAPAC) region. On the buy side, 21% are allocating over 40% of their spend to the channel.

Japan was one of the first countries that adapted a mobile phone culture. It is forecasted that the smartphone penetration rate in Japan will reach approximately 92 percent by 2025, equaling a total of more than 114 million smartphone users. Nowadays, Japanese people enjoy spending time on smartphones, especially by playing mobile games. Since many people have long train commutes in Japan, playing mobile games is a convenient way to pass the time. Using phones while walking is known as "aruki-sumaho" (literally “walking-smartphone”) and is also typical in Japan. However, in crowded cities like Tokyo or on train platforms, this practice is quite dangerous. Some Japanese smartphones even have a feature which warns you of upcoming obstacles or prevents the use of smartphones entirely when it detects you’re walking.

How can online advertising benefit from this? Driven by mobile ads, the online advertising market in Japan is growing exponentially. The market was valued at approximately 1.9 trillion Japanese yen in 2019 and it is expected to reach around 2.84 trillion yen by 2023.

Basic Creative Strategies for Programmatic Advertising in Japan

We at Aarki have run numerous mobile ad campaigns in Japan and the success of these campaigns was influenced by several factors. In this article, we will unpack the basic creative strategies that paved the way for our effective campaigns specific to the Japanese market.

  1. Show the users a walk-through of the app

Showing the users a walkthrough of the app by highlighting important features of the app is an effective way to increase app awareness and help users learn the core values the app can bring. This strategy succeeds in visualizing what the app contains and what to expect when using it. For instance, a gaming app could showcase bonuses of the game, a dating app could display filter options, and an educational app may highlight learning tools.

Showing a walk through of the app

  2. Feature more characters/mascots of the app

Featuring characters/mascots is another helpful way to establish human-like communication between users and the app. Getting the public to recognize your brand can be one of the biggest challenges. Leveraging extremely memorable characters/mascots helps to make this task much easier.

Japan has a long history of creating charming and emotionally appealing characters. “Loose characters,” more commonly known as yuru-chara, are immensely popular and frequently used by companies as part of their marketing strategy.Feature more characters

  3. Highlight flashy animations paired with an appealing/catchy layout

Grabbing the audience’s attention via flashy animations is another user-centric approach. This is a great way to help your message stand out and draw the users’ attention to the details. Moreover, highlighting a certain word or phrase through animation or other creative means will make your ad creatives even more appealing and more relevant to the users.

Highlight flashy animations



Case Study

Aarki recently delivered a successful user acquisition campaign together with Alphakt, a Japanese marketing support company in the entertainment field focused on gaming apps. Several of the creative strategies listed above contributed to the success of the campaign. 

As a result, the campaign registered incredible performance, exceeding ROAS goals as measured on a monthly basis. Taking a closer look at the campaign performance we also noticed that the cost per install was 60% of the target CPI. Want to learn more? Read the full case study here.

Programmatic Trends in Japan

Programmatic advertising is entering its second decade. It continues to advance and adapt to the changing needs of marketers. To understand the state of programmatic advertising in Japan better, let’s explore some programmatic trends for this country.

  1. Mobile programmatic 

Japan’s mobile app market is becoming one of the strongest mobile app markets around the world. Mobile is an ideal way to reach and engage with customers no matter where they are given its always-on and always-available nature.

With more Japanese consumers owning smartphones than ever before, demand for mobile apps is also increasing. Japan offers vast opportunities for mobile app developers who can successfully meet the unique demands of the region’s customers. There are more than 7,192 Japanese publishers and 37,511 apps from Japanese publishers on Google Play

  2. Video Advertising

It goes without saying that video can play a vital role in contributing to the success of mobile advertising. Images and texts alone sometimes fail to deliver the desired message to the target audience. Whereas video ads incorporate audio and visual elements that appeal to the multiple senses of the users. Hence, they are more entertaining compared to static ones.

It is estimated that ad spend in the video advertising segment in Japan will reach US$4,007m this year and will show an annual growth rate of 8.11%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$5,475m by 2025.

Bottom Line

So, what should we expect for programmatic adoption in Japan? Although the programmatic concept is relatively new in Japan, the speed of its adoption is significant. Moreover, the gap between Japan and US or Europe in respect to programmatic information is closing. We can expect to see Japan’s programmatic growth mirror overseas trends.

Major events like the 2020 Tokyo Olympics happening now are expected to open new horizons to the programmatic boom in Japan.

Want to be more informed about the state of programmatic advertising in different regions? Keep an eye on our Insights page.

Topics: Industry News