Dentsu Becomes Official Sales & Marketing Representative for Facebook Japan

Dentsu and Facebook Japan have announced today a major deal to appoint Dentsu as the official sales and marketing support representative in Japan. As outlined in their press release, Dentsu will offer services to include effective fan page creation and maintenance, exclusive access to Facebook Premium Advertising, and offer strategies that will integrate Facebook ads into Dentu’s infamous mass media campaigns.

With recent coverage of Facebook in Japan in mass media and the expsoure from the Social Netowork, both the advertising agency world and marketing departments of major Japanese brands are in a state of anxiety and confusion on the best way to integrate Facebook as a part of their brand strategies. And while Facebook Japan lacks robust user numbers and growth (when compared to the explosive rise of Twitter in late 2009, early 2010), major agencies like Dentsu are no doubt scrambling to ride this next social media wave early. Smelling the social marketing opportunity, employees at Dentsu were regularly encouraged to use Facebook actively since late last year.

This deal will also offer Facebook Japan the unique opportunity to access Dentu’s long list of major Japanese clients and multi-million dollar campaign budgets. Facebook Premium Ads, which Dentsu will have a one year exlusive right to, will be pushed through media planning proposals to clients on par with print, OOH, and television.

While the past year of Facebook Japan’s operations has been focused on engineering and laying the foundation for future user growth, this deal will represent the first significant attempt for Facebook to capitalize on the massive domestic advertising expenditure of Japanese brands it has yet to capture.

Family Mart Debuts New Rice Balls Suggested By Twitter Users

Following the cooperation between soft drink company Calpis and noodle maker Acecook with Mixi in 2008, we have yet another case of social media integration into product development in Japan. Major  convenience store chain Family Mart is concluding its campaign [J] where they release new rice ball flavors according to the suggestions of Twitter users [J]. During September, twitter users imagined and tweeted new flavors of rice balls for Family Mart – which were then selected based upon a popularity ranking on the campaign website.

As of November 30th, Family Mart released the top five rice balls including 1) fish egg cheese 2) seaweed beef and egg and 3) bacon and cheese, with many more flavors to follow. Family Mart also published some of the more interesting ideas which they eventually turned down – two popular ones being “russian roulette” rice ball – where you have a 1/3 chance of having a wasabi-filled rice ball, or a Fami-Chicken rice ball, with a piece of Family Marts trademarked fried chicken in the middle. You can find more detailed photos / dissection of the products over at Gigazine [J].

As Twitter rises into one of the dominant, marketing friendly social networks in Japan, its use in mainstream product campaigns has risen like with Georgia Coffee’s twitter novel campaign, or Sony Vaio’s outdoor installation displaying tweets. Depending on the success of this rice ball campaign and the sales of the product, Family Mart may have taken a small but important step forward in integrating social media into other parts of business like product development.

Adtech Tokyo: Event Wrap Up

The 2nd annual Adtech Tokyo took place this week in Tokyo at the Prince Park Tower for marketing and agency professionals. The conference aims to gather leading thought-leaders to share insights and trends in digital marketing. This years programme featured 12 dedicated tracks, 36 individual sessions, and 5 keynotes. This article will summarize some of the speeches and panel discussions that happened for those who missed it.

Panel Discussion: Brand Content. What does it mean? How do we manage it?

The Brand Content panel was themed around defining brand content and strategy that stimulate consumers to share. The panel was comprised of Jessica Greenwood, director of Contagious, Kazuki Nishiguchi, CMO of Rhoto Pharmaceuticals, Lance Shields, Digital Marketing Director of MRM Worldwide, and moderator Satoshi Ohashi, Innovation Director of ADK. The concensus among the panel revolved around the idea that brand content must be either entertaining, useful, or insightful – and does not necessarily need to contain the product within the given content. Jessica Greenwood from Contagious proposed several case studies of branded content including the Gatorade Replay project, as well as Volkswagen’s recently successful Fun Theory project. Kazuki Nishiguchi introduced his branded content campaigns I Want Chu as well as an upcoming iPad promotion for eyedrops aimed at young men featuring a virtual girlfriend that requires regular attention and eyedrops. Nishiguchi said the I Want Chu campaign had roughly 1.5 million hits – but admitted he has no idea how the I Want Chu campaign affected sales. He let slip that men inside the company loved it and are planning to extend the campaign.

Panel Discussion: Creative Solutions and Advanced Innovations for Multiple Platforms

The Multi-platform panel was themed around understanding the best use of platforms through advertising, as well as creative development that is flexible for any platform. The panel was comprised of Jonny Shaw, Founding Partner at Naked Communications Tokyo, Teiichi Ota, Technical Evangelist for Adobe Systems, and Akihito Abe, Creative Director for Ogilvy One Japan, and moderator Naoto Oiwa, Senior Creative Director at Dentsu. This panel differed on their conceptions on the state of multi-platforms. Akihito Abe stated that as the growth of platforms becomes increasingly more complex, the creative and execution would have to become more simpler. He defined fancy flash websites as elephants – large and interesting but ultimately unable to reach through different platforms, while text based messages like Twitter were nimble, but unable to bring innovative levels of interactivity to the user experience. Jonny Shaw outlined his frustrations in the poor level of interactivity within brand communications or websites when compared to the gaming industry – and told attendees to get their heads out of their silos. He argued that the gaming industry has not only grown to tremendous proportions, but is currently leading innovation in interactivity that can stretch across differing platforms while the marketing industry, especially the Japanese marketing industry, has lagged years behind. Akihito Abe introduced his work with Castrol for the World Cup, where they built a robotic leg to kick a football at world record speeds of 200 km per hour. The concept was to use this central, interesting idea to spread brand awareness. This promotional robot was covered across various media channels without spending media budget. While this was not necessarily an example of multi-platform more than it was multimedia, Abe asserts the same principles apply.

Keynote: ‘The Advertising Revolution: How consumer evolution is shaping our industry’

Carolyn Everson, VP of Global Advertising Sales and Trade Marketing at Microsoft Advertising, kicked off the first keynote by speaking about the changing nature of the consumer these days and how the consumer holds a lot of power, deeming that while ‘companies make the products, the consumers make the brand’. She also touched upon the necessity to have seamless brand presence across multiples mediums but customizing each experience to fit the consumer expectation/use of that particular medium. For example when purchasing a car, what you expect to receive from a 60 second spot, is different from what you are looking to find when you actively go online in search of more detailed information.

Follow-up Panel Discussion: ‘The Advertising Revolution: How consumer evolution is shaping our industry’

A number of issues were raised during the panel discussion between Carolyn Everson, Anna Kirah, an Innovation and Design Anthropologist, Hiroto Ebata, Coca Cola’s Director of i Marketing, Marketing and New Business and Victor Misawa, VP Marketing of Unilever Japan Customer Marketing KK. Anna Kirah firstly spoke about how the most important thing she learnt about marketing was something she learnt at kindergarten. As someone who grew up in Taiwan, China and Japan, as a kid, she learnt that in order to make friends, she needed to understand things from the other side; in other words, as a marketer you need to put yourself in the shoes of your consumers. Mr. Ebata discussed Coca Cola’s needs to not only have a multi-platform brand presence, but for these to be more closely connected and integrated, whilst making sure that each mediums is specifically catered to. Carolyn Everson and Victor Misawa discussed how the content of each medium also differs according to the product as, whilst purchasing a car is a high involvement purchase which may require the consumer to expect more detailed information about price and quality, Unilever’s typical products would instead focus on product and brand experience. To this end Misawa spoke about Unilever’s latest success with an event for the male grooming products brand Axe, which utilized Twitter and Ustream to expand its audience and impact.

Keynote: ‘ Revolutionizing Digital Publishing For Consumer Demands’

The next keynote speaker, Kenneth Estenson, Senior VP and General Manager of, spoke of how over the years the change in the way in which the public consumes media has affected news reporting. With the rise of social media and consumer involvement with brands CNN has had to modify, not only the format of their online site by giving over large sections of the home page to videos and incorporating Facebook, but they have also had to fundamentally shift their view of what ‘journalism’ entails. This has predominantly come about by their ‘iReport’section which allows anybody to upload to the site, any video footage or photo from their phone which they deem news-worthy. On receiving these submissions, the CNN editorial team of journalists will get in touch with the ‘iReporter’ to verify what they have sent in. This form of crowd-sourcing news reporting has meant that CNN is able to get live, immediate news coverage from all over the world (there are now over 6000 iReporters across the globe) in some cases, from places where CNN reporters are not allowed or cannot get to. For example during the Haiti disaster CNN was able to get a group of volunteer iReporters on the ground at Haiti to set up a Google Docs Spreadsheet with all the available information about people who were missing or found, integrating it with Google’s People Finder, and information from the databases of the Red Cross, and the US State Department, enabling people to get information about their loved ones.  While Estenson admitted that this form of reporting has meant that news reporting companies are now less in control of what and how news is broadcast, he sees it as an exciting and necessary step for any news networks which want to stay relevant to the people in this day and age.

The presentation files for other presenters can be found below.
Marvin Chow, Google APAC Marketing Manager
Jonny Shaw, Founding Partner of Naked Communications

Thanks to Matilda Ruffle for contributing on this article.

Japanese Government Allows ISPs to Target Ads by Browsing History

Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (総務省) working group recently published an opinion stating that certain network monitoring technologies (Deep Packet Inspection) can be used by Internet Service Providers to serve targeted advertising to users, but only after the user has been clearly notified of these practices. This news made the top page of Sunday’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

As all user communication with websites and other internet services travel through the user’s Internet Service Provider, these Providers theoretically can monitor or even modify these messages. ISP’s often do a simple version of this, looking only at the headers of packets (including the sender and the recipient of the information), in order to operate firewalls or to slow down certain types of traffic, such as file-sharing. Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) is a variant of this method whereby the ISP inspects the actual messages being transmitted, including online purchases or search terms, rather than just the headers. Proponents argue that such technology can lead to better targeted and thus more effective advertising.

Naturally, such technology can also lead to privacy concerns. In the past, US Congressional concerns hampered the widespread use of similar DPI-based targeted ads by NebuAd. Such case law from the United States, as well as similar cases in Europe, were also reviewed in the Japanese Ministry report.

The report (PDF, summary PDF, both in Japanese) is the second recommendation from the Workshop on Various Issues Related to IT Services Considering the User’s Perspective (利用者視点を踏まえたICTサービスに係る諸問題に関する研究会), finalized after a public comment period. The report considers the implications of technology such as DPI-based ad targeting in light of Japanese case law on privacy and telecommunications issues (section II.6, pp. 54-59), and concludes that such technology cannot be used without constituting a breach of private communications if it does not first receive approval from the user (p. 58). However, elsewhere in the report it is stated that an opt-out mechanism must be in place (p. 59), suggesting that the system need not be opt-in.

It will be interesting to follow the public’s response to this opinion and to this type of advertising, if and when they are implemented by ISPs.

Internet Ads Overtakes Newspaper To Become No.2 After Television In Japan

Dentsu Inc., Japan’s largest advertisement agency, published its annual Japan’s advertising expenditures report. [J, pdf]

According to the report, Dentsu estimates that advertisers spend 7.77 billion USD (1.2% growth) more on the Internet than on newspaper advertising 7.40 billion in 2009, first time in history. The No.1 television earned 18.84 billion, which is 10.2% decreased.

On the same Dentsu’s past reports, the Internet advertising expenses passed magazine in 2007, radio in 2004.