Behind the scene of YouTrivia(Kentei Gocco), new style of Web Ads using trivia from Manabing

YouTrivia (in Japanese, Kentei Gocco) is new style of advertisement to reach customers using trivia style questions to certain topics. The company named “Manabing” which means “on learning” in Japanese (http://www.manabing.jp). They grew 15,000 trivia for 8 million users for last three years. Their new ads attracts large clients like Nissan, Hitachi since it has low abandonment rate and good amount of hard core enthusiasts as users. Asiajin’s Yasuyuki Matsushita met with Mr. Igarashi of Manabing to drill down their success.

screenshot of Kentei gocco

Asiajin: Can you describe original concept of Kentei Gocco ? Does this come from cultural preference of Japanese people who loves quiz or trivia ?

Igarashi: Well, our original vision was to combine education, entertainment and advertisement on Internet as our core business. We had discussion among our staff, it started as blog widget or something. But just within 10 or 20 minutes of dialog, it became idea of having serial quiz or collection of trivia on entire web site not blog widget. We have created web site in around 2 weeks and made it public. It was coincident that date was same as “niconico douga” (http://www.nicovideo.jp/) went public as beta, Dec.12 2002. I joined this company to make good web service which is greater than mixi which is No.1 SNS in Japan.

Asiajin: Do you have any difficulties on beginning ? You are quite popular so far.

Igarashi: No, not exactly. As we opened the web to public, we were lucky to have clients to turn our business on. It helped a lot. But it was so exciting to see first boom on a trivia happened then.

Asiajin: What was the first trivia which gathered so much traffic ?

Igarashi: First trivia was one about Urawa Reds, our premier professional soccer club in our region. It was spread by word of mouth to fans of the club around here, Urawa is our local town in Saitama, with deep knowledge of players and club which fanatic supporters typically has. That trivia has over 40K users so far. We also has trivia for each players of the club. We think these professional sports related trivia are pretty much popular. For example, trivia for hanshin Tigers. Other popular trivia for Junji Takada, a very funny comedian, has large amount of trivia and fan for it. He is crazy and funny like hell. His trivia is HOT 🙂

Asiajin: Oh, I know 🙂 Let’s talk about functionality for moment. What is your future plan for functionality ?

Igarashi: We had more functions at initial plan for web site. But as we see our usage of it, it is better to keep it simple. We used to have function like uploading images, it was cut by intention.

Asiajin: As I tried to answer a trivia for myself, after I answered several quiz, then it automatically starts Flash movie as advertisement before result come out. I think this is clever to do so since you want to know how you’ve done or points you got.

Igarashi: Yes. This is the good reason not let users leave our site. After you answered several trivia, then it is natural for you to wait the results. Our founder has background originally from e-learning industry, this is the result of these expertise which is not focused on functions but based on approach of education or psychology. Our clients are very happy that their messages are delivered appropriately.

Asiajin:We know that you have English site and Chinese site for these trivia. What about your future for these global expansion ? it seems that it is remarkable to company at your size to offer services in Chiense.

Igarashi :Yes. We found that Chinese contents or trivia had increased organically on our Japanese site with huge traffic from Taiwan. Most of these trivia has been made for Japanese singers or actors who are very popular in Taiwan so far. Of course situation are same for anime, manga or games in Japan. it is quite unique to find that these users in Taiwan generate “Own Trivia” so much. Yes, it is trivia for yourself. We don’t see that phenomena in Japan. It is quite fun to see.

Asiajin: You mean Quiz for yourself ?

Igarashi: Yes. like “Do you know my hobby ? Choose from below..”  kind of 🙂

Asiajin: It is funny.  Who would give correct answer to such personal stuff ? Family ? or friends ?

Igarashi: Friends, Maybe. We don’t see such stuff from Japanese users so this would be a character of personality which each nation has. Or maybe by their culture.

Asiajin: I know that your services are famous of using Amazon Cloud Computing in some respect. You are very early adopter of AWS aren’t you ?

Igarashi: Oh, yes. We had good learning period by reading bunch of English documents. 🙂  Our first deployment of AWS was around September 2007 so it is fair to say we are early adopter. I think wev service which is open to public, cannot plan coming traffic ahead like us is appropriate for using cloud computing. We also run consulting services for cloud computi¥ng based on ES2/S3, you can find useful information on our news site (http://cloud.manabing.jp).

Asiajin: You are giving seminars to public, right ? Can you tel me future plan for your business ?

Igarashi: We believe these quiz or trivia trigger users not by technical or informational but more emotional desire in people’s mind. So our plan is to deliver variety of serivces which mix not only advertisement but education, marketing activities, questionnare, user experimental testing so on. So we can be very unique company to the market.

Asiajin: Thank you very much. I hope to see your growth soon.

Trivia based new approach for let clients deliver messages is quite unique. Manabing and their Kentei Gocco is something you need to watch if you want to find the way on advertisement.

Agile Media Network raises $1M

amn-logo

Agile Media Network raised a $1M investment from Ant Capital Partners on March 31st. They use the investment to develop new software systems.

Agile Media Network is a Japanese ad-network / blog marketing company for blogs and social media which was established in February 2007. They sell ads of many Japanese top blogs such as Netafull.

They expect first monthly profit in March 2009.

Disclosure: Motohiko Tokuriki, CEO of Agile Media Network, is an advisor of Asiajin.

via Venture View [JP]

Yahoo Japan to Launch Interest Matching Advertising Technology

Last week I attended an information event for Bloggers organized by Agile Media hosted at Yahoo! Japan’s offices in Tokyo Midtown.

The theme of the event was Yahoo Japan’s soon to be launched ‘Interest Match‘ [J] advertising service. The technology displays adverts based on previous pages people have viewed and page referrer information in addition to the content of the page with the advert. Advertisers can also target adverts by gender, age, geography and time. The service was billed as a development beyond context sensitive adverts. The technology is developed by Yahoo! Japan and will initially only be available here.

The pages a user has visited in the past are tracked using a cookie so this means that it won’t be as effective if multiple users use the same login on the same computer or if you use more than one machine. One attendee described the system as a ‘cookie devouring network’.

The first questions in the Q&A were not surprisingly about Privacy. In Japan there is a hyper-sensitivity to privacy. In the discussion that ensued it was pointed out that there is not really anything malicious happening, but generally user’s may feel it’s ‘kimochi warui’ (perhaps roughly translated in this context as ‘creepy’) if they felt that their browsing was being tracked and that data used on other sites.

As the event was for bloggers many of them said this privacy issue would be a concern, but other said they would be happy if it helps increase revenues from advertising.

The evening finished with workgroup session. The bloggers were asked for ideas on tactics to help get site owners using the new service. Suggestions included off-beat ideas such as a TV feature showing people who made millions using the new service or who lived off Yahoo! Points. Other suggestions where making the adverts easy to install and use. Finally the winning idea voted on by Yahoo! staff was to make the data collected in the service ‘open’. It was great to see recognition of the ‘opening’ trend and an interest to go in that direction by the staff.