Sohei Mitani
Aug 18, 2016

What will it take for Japanese marketers to finally 'go digital'?

Online advertising may look firmly part of the marketing landscape in Japan. But in truth, it remains largely an extension of mass advertising practices. That has to change, argues Dentsu Digital's Sohei Mitani.

Sohei Mitani
Sohei Mitani

Is online advertising here to stay?

Online advertising is enjoying double-digit growth in an otherwise mature advertising market. In Japan, online revenues eclipsed those of newspapers to place second after those from TV commercials. Online revenues admittedly lagged those of television by almost 800 billion yen, although the gap could erode if the overseas experience is anything to go by. The Internet has closed in on television as the most popular medium in the United States and has already outstripped it in the United Kingdom.

Reluctantly digital

But while online advertising is increasingly important in Japan, the nation’s bigger advertisers are reluctant to go digital. They remain firmly focused on television commercials and often treat the online world as little more than an extension of that approach. They run video ads online to augment TV reach or use PR clickbait  simply to clock up more video views than rivals. They fail to understand the promise of online advertising.

See also: Why Dentsu is finally taking the digital plunge

'Being' digital

Online advertising can only fulfill its potential if it truly embraces the digital world. So, it is worth considering the two major differences between the mass media and online advertising models.
The first is that online you can target specific individuals with personalized ads. The second is that online advertising enables you to track behavior in response to your messages and measure results so you can fine-tune your approach. Such advertising is therefore less of a vehicle and more of a solution. Yet, many advertisers and even advertising firms have yet to harness the power of digital marketing.

A marketing solution

In embarking on your digital journey, you should make targeting your first priority in designing your overall marketing approach. So, determine your targets and develop and deploy your messages accordingly, and this may involve creating new content. You will now be able to formulate a media plan as a result of that deployment. Then establish key performance indicators so you can evaluate impact.

Skills and experience are naturally necessary to draw the complete planning picture. One key need would be marketing capabilities so you can design the overall approach beforehand. Another would be the ability to crunch a lot of data to gain insights. And then you need to be able to execute with backing from your media and ad tech knowledge. So, you need to draw on expertise in a range of fields.

Putting digital first

Devising a digital plan that harnesses diverse skills and knowhow will bring you closer to creating solutions that can emotionally engage targets.

Once you focus on targets, you will be ready to move everything forward, and, when necessary, incorporate mass media elements in your planning. With targets on center stage, digital will naturally drive your marketing approach.

Embracing digital presents massive opportunities pursue more effective advertising, empowering marketers to present evidence-based results and offer almost endless scope for improvements in their advertising.

Sohei Mitani is senior vice-president of data and insight with Dentsu Digital

Translated from Japanese by Mark Darbyshire 


Campaign Japan

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