Misaki Tsuchiyama
Sep 28, 2016

Takeaways from Ad:tech Tokyo 2016

Topics from this year's ad:tech Tokyo: sake, sports, AI, understanding the LGBT community.

Hidetoshi Nakata
Hidetoshi Nakata

TOKYO - This year's ad:tech Tokyo presented wide-ranging views on a variety of topics. Here are some highlights Campaign Japan picked up on.

Language seen preventing Japanese products from making inroads

Footballing legend Hidetoshi Nakata promotes sake and other traditional Japanese offerings throughout the world. He presented some of the key issues to date in his keynote speech.

“Foreign consumers cannot read Japanese labels, so they rarely choose products based on brands," he said. "Low-priced sakes have been a poor fit for European restaurants that carry expensive wines and champagne. I want to build a platform that brings drinkers and producers together, sharing the wonders of sake with the rest of the world.”

Masatoshi Kumagai, chief executive officer of GMO Internet, added, “Some markets in Japan are half-baked. Only 4.8 percent of companies with “co.jp” domain names have multilingual websites. It’s vital to change that situation."

You can't hope to understand the LGBT community unless you engage with it

One panel discussion focused on marketing to lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender people, who together account for somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of Japan’s population.

Takahiko Morinaga, founder and chief executive officer of the Japan LGBT Research Institute, offers marketing support to corporations. "You cannot resonate with LGBT people if you only factor them in from the product development stage," he said. "You have to engage with them after carefully studying and assessing what they want. I’d like to see companies that have started LGBT marketing to work on taking advantage, even a little, of the interest that people from these communities have shown in them."

One company that has embraced LGBT consumers is Lifenet Insurance, which offers coverage to same-gender partners. “You’ve got to make sure you engage with the people concerned," said Shinichi Iwata, head of marketing. "It took around two and a half years from our initial volunteer study session to launch our new service, and I realized from the scale of the response that this process was very important."

You still have to think in order to make AI useful

“We can use AI to reveal long-tail data in real time, which was impossible before," said Kazuto Ataka, chief strategy officer of Yahoo Japan. "Digital marketers are employing this data.” He added that, there’s nothing really new about AI, as it already serves in search advertising and other areas.

Professor Yukio Ohsawa of the University of Tokyo said AI proves useful in data analysis. “We’ve found from a theoretical stance that AI isn’t intrinsically all that useful," he said. "But if you use it to combine data, you can study time series, detect value aberrations, and even analyze data to spot new opportunities. You might, for instance, find marketing openings by delving into market and conference communication data.”

Takuma Iwasa, chief executive of Cerevo, later spoke about the Internet of Things. He noted that, “You don’t need to have a ton of data. There are techniques to amass important knowledge even from compact data sets.”

Changing sports landscape will lead to new forms of content delivery

Koji Ishii, chief strategy officer for the Japan Women’s Baseball League, noted in a discussion that Japan is attracting a lot of investment from around the world.

"The nation’s ability to capitalise on the resulting opportunities will shape the future of Japanese sport,” he said. Ishii referred to ongoing initiatives by the Japan International Cooperation Agency to leverage baseball instruction, which has helped enhance the academic performance of women. “From a global strategy perspective, I think there is plenty of scope for further growth in female professional sport as women gain more equality,” he said.

Tomoki Negishi, chief operating and marketing officer of Pacific League Marketing, noted the potential for western-style content businesses. “The times are changing," he said. "It’s vital for content holders and advertisers alike to be willing to take the plunge.”

Campaign Japan

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