To get a sense of how the industry in Japan is feeling as we enter 2019, we asked five very different individuals (spanning agencies, ad verification, direction and production, and technology and startups) to outline the direction they see things taking—or at least hope they will take.
Following are the responses from Chieko Ohuchi, executive officer and corporate branding officer of Dentsu; Taro Fujinaka, managing director of Integral Ad Science Japan; Claudia Cristovao, Google’s Asia-Pacific head of Brand Studio; Peter Grasse, founder of Mr Positive; and Aiko Teranishi, team leader of ADK marketing solutions, who also leads Schema, an initiative to bridge advertising and emerging technology.
What is your biggest hope for marketing in 2019?
As the structure of the advertising/marketing industry is disrupted, the fields that demonstrate the most creativity will expand dramatically. I hope that people with creative talent will join our industry and collaborate together to realise new and exciting innovations.
That brands will respect users with truth, but also with beauty and delight.
Monolith Moment! Humanity is seeing the dawn of a transformation in global culture. A new age devised and driven by our progressive visual language. Japan is at the forefront of this change and we, as producers, are leading it. How so? Here we go… As postmodernists, we believe language is the fundamental building block of civilisation. As millennials, the language with which we communicate is increasingly visual. From emojis to Instagram, we now consume images more than words. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, then the rate of societal change has exponentially increased. Hence, and here’s where it gets interesting, as postmodern producers we have the opportunity to monolithically motivate culture. The media we create are the new cognitive tools of the masses. And, if this be true, then there is great responsibility to produce great work. As Wittgenstein so aptly said “Producing commercial content is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination”. Our future depends on it!
My biggest hope is that marriage between branding and technology will develop further. If we hear the word ‘technology’ from the marketing perspective, we tend to imagine ad tech for big data. However, branding-wise, there is much more to it. Branding is going to continue to change from how we show the brand to what the brand represents, and as such PR thinking is going to become mainstream. In this context, we marketers can’t have walls between departments and must learn to use the technology at our disposal to bring the facts of a company to life. I’m very excited to see how every company uses new technology to move forward.
The industry in 2019 will be largely focused on the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in 2020. It’s going to be an unparalleled year for the brands in Japan and will see most brands preparing to navigate the cluttered Olympic landscape. Innovation and creativity will be key in making the brands stand out and my guess is that Japanese travel and tourism brands along with the majority of Japan’s national clients will leave no stone unturned in trying to get their share of consumer attention. It’ll be a very exciting 12 months for brands in Japan and I’m hoping to see some local brands seize the opportunity and make history.
What worries you when you look ahead to the coming year?
Peoples’ growing concern over an increasingly unstable economy is beginning to impact the way they view the world and I’m worried to think that our expanding global vitality is in decline.
That important moments will keep being engulfed by incessant noise.
Despite all our potential, our industry makes a lot of crap. It says ‘no' to new methodologies and rather than support each other, readily throws team members under the bus when things get tough. Yet, media production is a philosophical endeavour and Positivism is gaining momentum. In fact, optimism is the most disruptive idea in the world today and Japan can lead the way. Experienced filmmakers are full of enthusiasm in producing crafted culture. We’re alchemists consistently smelting gold from shrinking budgets and puny ideas. Like Deleuzian timekeepers, we know our present opportunity is the result of all past and future potentialities.
In Japan, digital advertising is behind the global standard. We tend to use the word ‘globalisation’, but need to understand that we are already in the global sphere, work accordingly and absorb information on a global level. Japanese people are more focused on perfection than efficiency. Is that right from a global standard? Does it contribute to GDP? We should all be asking this sort of question.
With increased awareness around issues of ad fraud, brand safety, and viewability, advertisers are becoming acutely aware of the weaknesses of current KPIs. Increasingly it is becoming clearer to them that CPC and in many cases even CPA can be gamed by fraudsters causing unacceptable levels of waste. It would be a shame if instead of realising these issues can be mitigated, advertisers stick to the old way of media buying (along with associated blind spots of current KPIs) and digital budgets shrink due to poor performance. As consumers already spend more time online than with traditional media, going backwards isn’t really a feasible option.
Make one prediction about the industry for the next 12 months.
The fusion of ideas and passion created by human beings and state-of-the-art technology will create new emotions and desires. As a result, how we refer to the ‘advertising industry’ will either be further disrupted or transformed.
‘Premium mediocrity’ will lose some of its appeal; good things will stand out more because they are rarer and users are ready to reward them.
The wheat will be separated from the chaff. It's not enough to just be bilingual. I hear ’no’ a lot because it's the default answer to those that have never tried. Positivism will empower our potential to go the hard yards and make great crafted work. The resulting confidence will free us from the deadening weight of a punctilious PPM document. Risks will reward. The future is bright!
Companies like Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Slack are expected to IPO this year, and the impact on the economy will be immeasurable. As 5G becomes dominant, more and more startups will disrupt people’s behaviour and also our common sense. From a marketing perspective, we can’t say that the competitors of today will be the same as those of tomorrow. We must prepare for the unexpected and keep our eyes open wide.
2019 will be the year we see the value of clean impressions and true time-in-view become further quantified. This will pave the way for marketers to change the way they buy media to achieve real business results at scale. This shift in focus of using verification for defensive purposes towards true ROI-positive results will represent a long-overdue paradigm shift in the Japan market.