How To Do Online Marketing in Japan: A Simple Guide

Entering an Asian marketing can seem overwhelming for many, and online advertising in Asia is indeed different from online advertising in Europe and the US in several different ways. These differences can be attributed to cultural, economic, and technological factors that vary between the two regions. In this article, I’ll outline the largest differences between advertising in Asia and Europe/US, what to consider when advertising in Japan, and how the largest social network in Japan (Line) can be used for advertising.

How does advertising differ between Asian and Europe/US?

One of the biggest differences between online advertising in Asia and Europe/US is the level of mobile usage. In Asia, mobile usage is higher than in Europe and the US, with many consumers relying on their smartphones as their primary means of accessing the internet. This means that businesses in Asia need to focus on mobile-optimized advertising, such as mobile-friendly websites and mobile apps. In contrast, in Europe, desktop usage is still more prevalent, therefore advertisers may also focus on website advertising and less on mobile-optimized advertising.

Another key difference between online advertising in Asia and Europe/US is the platforms and channels that are popular in each region. In Asia, social media platforms such as WeChat, Line, and KakaoTalk are widely used, while in Europe and the US, Facebook and Instagram are the most popular. Additionally, e-commerce platforms like Alibaba and Rakuten are popular in Asia, while Amazon and eBay are more popular in Europe. These differences mean that businesses in Asia need to focus on advertising on these local platforms, whereas businesses in Europe and the US have more options and can also focus on global platforms.

Cultural differences also play a role in online advertising in Asia and Europe/US. In Asia, advertisements tend to be more subtle and rely on building trust with consumers over time. In contrast, in Europe, advertisements tend to be more direct and focused on creating a sense of urgency. Additionally, in Asia, it is important to respect cultural norms and be aware of the social and economic climate when creating ads, whereas in Europe and the US, the cultural differences are not as significant.

Language is also an important consideration in online advertising in Asia. Many Asian countries have their own languages, and businesses need to ensure that their advertisements are translated and localized to effectively reach their target audience. In Europe and the US, there are many languages but most of them are spoken in small regions, whereas in Asia, there are fewer languages but spoken by a larger population. In Europe and the US, most people do also communicate in English, meaning that you can target consumers across various marketing with English ads – this is not possible to the same extent in Asia.

What is important to consider when doing advertising in Japan?

Online marketing in Japan is a rapidly growing industry, with businesses of all sizes leveraging the internet to reach consumers. The main online marketing channels in Japan include search engines, social media, e-commerce marketplaces, and e-mail marketing.

Search engines are one of the most popular online marketing channels in Japan, with Google being the most widely used search engine. Businesses can use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to improve their search engine rankings and drive more traffic to their websites organically, or by doing PPC advertising on the search engines. Yahoo is, however, also widely used in Japan, meaning that you should ideally be using both search engines to get the full reach of the population through this respective channel.

Social media is another popular online marketing channel in Japan, with platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram being widely used. Businesses can use social media to engage with their target audience, build brand awareness, and drive website traffic. Platforms like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube are also popular among the younger generations. However, Line, a messaging app, is commonly used in Japan and can be utilized for businesses’ messaging and customer service. This is the most locale social network in Japan that you should be aware of, and should be a channel that you explore from the very beginning if you are to enter the Japanese market.

E-commerce marketplaces is also a key online marketing channel in Japan if you’re optimizing for visibility, with platforms such as Rakuten and Yahoo! Shopping being widely used. These platforms allow businesses to sell their products directly to consumers, and can be an effective way to increase sales and revenue. E-commerce websites can also be used to gather customer data, which can be used to improve marketing strategies.

E-mail marketing is another popular online marketing channel in Japan, with open-rate and click-through rates being higher than what you on average see in Europe and the US. Businesses can use e-mail marketing to stay in touch with customers and promote new products or services. E-mail marketing can be used to create targeted campaigns, which can be segmented based on demographics, purchase history, or other data.

In addition, Influencer Marketing has recently grown in popularity in Japan. Many Japanese consumers trust influencers and celebrities more than what you see in European countries and the US, so brands often collaborate with them to promote their products and services. Influencers can create sponsored content, review products, and host giveaways, which can help to increase brand awareness and drive sales.

Overall, online marketing in Japan is a dynamic and rapidly evolving industry, with new technologies and channels emerging all the time. Businesses can use a combination of these channels to reach and engage with their target audience, build brand awareness, and drive sales. However, it is important to note that each channel has its own unique set of benefits and challenges and it is important to select the right channels based on the target audience, budget, and goals of the campaign. Line and Yahoo! are the two largest, local platforms that you should be aware of, and in the next section I’ll also add a small deep dive on how you can use Line for advertising.

Different ways to use Line for promoting your business

Line is a popular messaging app in Japan, with over 81 million active users. As such, it has become an important platform for businesses to reach their target audience. Here are some ways businesses can use Line for advertising in Japan.

  1. Line Sticker Ads: Line offers businesses the opportunity to create and promote their own stickers, which are animated images that can be used in conversations. These stickers can be used to promote a brand or product, and can be a fun and engaging way to reach users.
  2. Line Official Account: Line also allows businesses to create an official account, which users can follow to receive updates and promotions from the business. This can be a great way to build a following and stay in touch with customers.
  3. Line Live: Line Live is a live streaming feature that allows businesses to connect with their audience in real-time. This can be a great way to showcase products, host Q&A sessions, or provide behind-the-scenes access to a business.
  4. Line Ads: Line also offers a variety of ad formats, such as sponsored messages, home screen ads, and sponsored stickers. These ads can be targeted to specific demographics, interests, or behaviors, and can be a great way to drive sales or website traffic.
  5. Line Campaigns: Businesses can also create campaigns on Line, which can include a combination of different ad formats, such as stickers, official accounts, and sponsored messages. These campaigns can be used to promote a specific product or event, and can be a great way to reach a large audience.

It is important to note that Line’s advertising platform is only available in Japan, so businesses outside of the country will not be able to advertise through the platform. Additionally, Line’s advertising platform is only available in Japanese, so it is important for businesses to have a good understanding of the language and culture in order to effectively reach their target audience.

In conclusion, Line is a powerful advertising platform in Japan that can be used to reach a large and engaged audience. Whether through Line Sticker Ads, Line Official Accounts, Line Live, Line Ads, or Line Campaigns, businesses can use the platform to promote their brand and drive sales. However, it is important to understand the language and culture of Japan and tailor your strategy to the local market.

6 Marketing Channels That Brands Use to Grow Their Business in China

China is the largest e-commerce market in the world, and it has been a challenge for many Western brands to enter this market. Creating an E-Commerce presence in China is close to impossible without using their national server infrastructure (or completely migrating to T-Mall or one of the other major marketplaces in the country), and traditional Western marketing channels (e.g., Facebook, Google, etc.) are likewise blocked by the Chinese government, meaning that there are mainly national marketing channels available for western brands to use in order to advertise their products and/or services. However, when it comes to reach in search engines and social media, China’s search engines and social networks are among the largest in the world. In this article I’ll go over six of these channels which include Weibo, Baidu, WeChat (which also serves as an e-commerce platform), Little Red Book and other social media sites like Tudou.

1. Weibo

Weibo is the most popular microblogging site in China with over 500 million monthly active users! Brands can create accounts on Weibo where they share information about themselves through posting articles or videos from time to time. These posts usually contain links back to the brand’s official website. It also got a live video streaming feature, as well as its own version of the wildly popular Instagram Stories function.

Weibo, like its Western counterpart, originally restricted postings to 140 characters, but this restriction has since been lifted. (Except for reposts and remarks.)

Sina Weibo was founded in 2009 as “Sina Weibo,” before being rebranded as simply “Weibo” in 2014. The website has grown to be one of China’s most popular social media sites since its inception with more than half a billion users.

With such a huge audience on the platform, it should be clear why Weibo is so desirable for marketers, especially those outside of China seeking to break into the market.

Brands can similarly to Western social media platforms both grow organically and through paid activities – and as always, the paid activities will allow you to accelerate your brand growth. Here’s three reasons why Weibo’s advertising platform is good to use:

1.1 Extensive audience targeting

Weibo allows you to target your campaign to a variety of different demographic groups in order to fine-tune and direct your marketing. Brands can currently target Weibo users through the following characteristics:

  • Age, gender, and location
  • Interest areas
  • Device
  • Competitor brands
  • Specific followers

1.2. Ideal entry point to promote in the Chinese market

Weibo is a tremendous platform from which to begin marketing in China. With so many users, Weibo provides a wonderful entry point for any business interested in breaking into the Chinese market. Because advertising on Weibo is relatively inexpensive, businesses may test the water before committing to larger efforts.

1.3. Can help brands grow organic as well as paid

As mentioned before, Weibo is similar to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram in that it isn’t only used for sponsored marketing. In reality, much of the brand’s growth may be organic. Paid advertising might lead to a larger Weibo following, which can help reduce the need for paid channels on the long term when there’s a stronger pull for your product and/or service.

2. Baidu

In China, Google has a relatively minor market share of less than 3%. The search engine environment in this country differs significantly from that in most Western countries, with several key players such as Baidu, Sogou, Haosou, and Shenma. Baidu is without a doubt the first stop for most businesses looking to conduct search marketing campaigns in China, as it is by far the largest search engine in the country with more than 500 million active monthly users. So it makes sense that most companies would want to make sure they have their ads running on this platform.

When looking for a brand on Baidu, the content which appears is similar to that on Google, meaning it includes websites, news articles, blogs about the company with links back to the brand’s homepage where visitors can purchase goods or services offered, and the like. Baidu is therefore a channels which – just like Google and Yahoo – should be used to optimise a brands SEO presence, as well as advertising through paid search, display and shopping strategies.

However, one thing which is fundamentally different to how things are in the Western world from a search behaviour point of view is that consumers in China usually don’t use search engines when they have an actual purchase intent – at this stage, they search directly in one of the country’s large marketplaces (T-Mall, Taobao or The same is quite similar in the United States, where close to 70% of consumers now start their shopping journey on Amazon as opposed to Google.

3. WeChat

WeChat is one of China’s most popular messaging apps with over 900 million monthly active users. The app can be used for many things including sending pictures or videos from device to device; it also has a feature where retailers can create mini stores on the app so customers can browse through items before they purchase anything.

The WeChat advertising platform, which is operated by Tencent, enables businesses to promote ads on consumers’ timelines or at the bottom of WeChat Official Account stories. Companies which advertise through WeChat can use the ads to grow their WeChat Official Account followers, increase their brand awareness, drive traffic to their websites, increase conversions, and generate app downloads.

There are three main WeChat ad types:

  • WeChat Moments Advertising
  • WeChat banner ads
  • WeChat Key Opinion Leader ads

4. Little Red Book

Little Red Book is China’s most popular lifestyle website where users can buy clothing or find beauty tips, but it was originally created exclusively for female consumers so gender equality issues have been discussed on LRB’s platforms from time to time.

5. Tudou

Tudou is China’s largest video site where users can upload videos on topics from cooking recipes to DIY tutorials or even music performances. Brands can pay a fee to have ads placed within the videos that are uploaded by other users or they may be able to sponsor content created by celebrities on the app too! Videos uploaded by other users are available for brands to sponsor, but companies must have an expensive advertising budget in order for this tactic will be worth it. Tencent Video is also one of China’s most popular video sites, but Youku would be better suited as its target demographic skews towards older audiences than Tudou

6. Youku

The only two national advertising options left would be Youku and Tencent Video where companies could hope to advertise their content if they had a large budget or wanted to reach out to a younger audience.