An Overview of Advertising in Japan

Understanding the topic  

Advertising is an art. For years, people from different backgrounds have been using the art of advertising to convey a message that is dear to them while promoting a new product or service. In today’s world, more than ever, images are mostly used in this industry because, as it’s been said for decades: a picture is worth a thousand words.       

There are multiple ways to define advertising. A classic academic definition suggested by highlights that: “the ultimate goal of advertising art is to persuade consumers and/ or convey a message”. In most cases, visual images are utilized by organizations to communicate a concise, clear and attractive message, idea, or point of view in order to conquer their audiences. 

Advertising in Japan

Advertising market in Japan is the 3rd largest advertising market worldwide. In recent years, the total advertising spending registered a steady growth of  more than ¥6 trillion as of 2018. Additionally, the size of the advertising market puts it among the most important markets for Japan, because it represents more than 1% of the country’s GDP.

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From the previous figure, it appears that most advertising in Japan was done on TV until the end of 2018, as in some other countries around the world. However, the trend has been reversed because now most advertising in Japan is done via the internet, according to a report published by Dentsu in 2019 on Advertising Expenditures in Japan

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Indeed, all other advertising tools or media platforms are still used in Japan to advertise products and services, namely: newspapers, magazines, directories, direct mail, catalogues, leaflets, radio, cellphones, online/internet, social media platforms, and so on. However, compared to what is known in the western world or other regions such as Asia, the way of advertising in Japan may show some differences from a cultural standpoint.  

In Japan for example, while analysing the trends of old media in Japan to see how relevant they still are today, experts suggested in 2019 that: “Traditional media is facing issues of declining viewership and revenue in this new age of how Japanese are consuming media. However, some are getting creative to stay relevant by leveraging new technologies and incorporating new media into their ecosystems”.

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Major advertising agencies in Japan

In Japan, there are numerous advertising agencies, but here are a few major ones,  according to HR Force, as described below.  

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Put particular strength on mass media, overseas, and sports. Dentsu’s strength lies in its global expansion with mass media such as TV advertisements.

It is no exaggeration to say that the mass media, including Japanese TV advertisements, is dominated by Dentsu, and its high share compared to its competitors is obvious.

The size of TV advertisements is very large, and it is only Dentsu that youth can be involved in such large projects.

 The company succeeded in raising its global position in the advertising industry among the top in the world. 

Put strength on collecting and analyzing consumer data. Hakuhodo has strengths in data collection and analysis.

Marketing that focuses on the use of data is called data-driven marketing, and the ability to devise effective marketing measures based on data will become more important in the future era.

Hakuhodo is particularly good at consumer data, and we are also developing a medium called consumer data driven marketing communication.

Differentiate with content such as animation. ADK has a strength in content rather than media like Dentsu and Hakuhodo.

For example, there are anime contents such as “Doraemon”, “Crayon Shin-chan”, and “One Piece”, and in addition to planning and production, they undertake a wide range of work such as commercializing characters and product tie-ups. Therefore, it can be said that the network with distributors and publishers is one of the points that is superior to Dentsu and Hakuhodo. 

In particular, anime content is gaining popularity overseas, and ADK anticipates future growth.

In a nutshell 

Even though TV is still the biggest platform of advertising in Japan, the advent of digital marketing and social media has brought about other forms of advertising. In fact, more people are using social networks via their mobile phones to connect with families, friends and colleagues  just for fun or for business,  now more than ever: this is the era of mobile advertising heading to its sharpest, in Japan as well.