In this article we go over the digital marketing trends in Japan for 2022 that will shape this coming year.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Multichannel Marketing Required
The first digital marketing trend of 2022 that advertisers in Japan should be aware of is the need to embrace multichannel marketing.
In a previous article we wrote about alternatives to Facebook Ads in Japan and how more brands are starting to realize the importance of using multiple different channels in order to promote their business and products in the Japanese market.
What brought about this realization is pure and simple: Apple’s iOS 14.
The iOS 14.5 update effectively proved that many businesses were over reliant on a single channel, in other words the Facebook Ads platform, for their digital marketing. This kind of strategy continues to be an incredibly risky approach moving forward in 2022.
The smarter play these days, especially for consumer-focused ecommerce businesses, is to hedge your risk by diversifying your brand’s marketing channels.
This means that if you are purely focused on social media advertising for your business in Japan you may wish to consider looking into search engine marketing (SEM) or even delve deeper into influencer marketing and content marketing in order to expand your reach and grow your business.
By implementing a multichannel strategy and diversifying ad spend across platforms, our ecommerce clients have been able to reach new audiences, grow brand recognition, and increase revenue despite stiff competition and rising digital advertising costs that defined the latter half of this past year.
While we at Plus Alpha Digital strongly believe in the benefit of using a multichannel approach for Japan, it is important to note that developing an effective strategy across multiple channels does require that your media planner, media buyer, or digital agency partner has a firm grasp of various ad platforms, and how they perform in the Japanese market.
First Party Data Matters Now More Than Ever
Businesses that saw the devastating impact that iOS 14.5 had on their brand’s advertising abilities and strategies understand now just how important first party data is to their Japanese digital marketing strategy for 2022.
With less third party data being provided to advertisers by the various digital ad platforms, as well as less data available directly from the platforms themselves, first party data is becoming essential to effective digital advertising, especially when it comes to paid social.
Whatever you use to analyze website and performance data within your organization, whether it be the ever-popular Google Analytics, analytics provided by your ecommerce platform, or other third-party software, the important thing as we start off 2022 is that your business has ownership over this data that will allow you to make informed decisions.
Another reason that first party data is becoming so important is due to to increasing amounts of automation on the various digital ad platforms, which we discuss next, that are taking away insights that digital marketers relied on.
Ad Platforms Continue to Push for Even More Automation
Automation is no longer a buzz word in the world of digital marketing, it’s a reality.
Both Google Ads and Facebook continue to push automation heavily onto the advertisers using their respective platforms, in many cases making automated bidding strategies the default option when creating new campaigns.
While automated bid strategies and machine learning can prove a boon for big companies with the data and adspend required to make it all work, small and mid-size advertisers are losing control and customizability over their campaigns and accounts and that is an undeniable fact.
Furthermore, the move towards greater automation, within digital advertising in particular, raises very real questions about how brands can gain a competitive edge over rivals as tactics become less important than strategy on individual platforms.
With fewer levers to pull and ways to optimize your accounts, brands will require different strategies to achieve results in 2022.
The TikTok Effect
TikTok has had a major effect on the digital marketing landscape, and this will likely continue to be the case in 2022 as the social meida app continues to grow in relevance.
The most illustrative of this fact is that the short video format which TikTok helped popularize is becoming more common across all the major social media paltforms.
Instagram’s newest feature, Instagram Reels is a shameless copy straight out of TikTok’s playbook, and the head of Instagram even went so far as to say that they aren’t a photo sharing app anymore.
Meanwhile, YouTube has also been influenced by TikTok with the site heavily promoting their “YouTube shorts” video format, which mimic the portrait style videos of TikTok, in an attempt to create more bite-sized pieces of content.
Essentially what the TikTok effect illustrates is that video, especially ones under a minute in length, is being utilized by more and more businesses and is quickly becoming the format of choice of many of the biggest and most popular consumer brands.
Despite more advertisers using video in their digital marketing, however, the reality is that not all businesses will have the ability to create content on a consistent basis, which raises numerous concerns with regard to digital content strategy.
Before deciding to go all-in on video for your marketing and digital advertising creatives, we recommend conducting a cost-benefit analysis to see if doing so truly makes the most sense for your business.
Influencer Marketing Makes Its Case
While paid social in Japan suffered a major blow due to iOS 14.5, influencer marketing in Japan is poised to benefit from these changes.
With fewer advanced targeting options available, and lower performance for social media ads as a whole, influencer marketing—which had often been spurned in favor of performance marketing—looks far more appealing to advertisers than it has for years.
Because influencers can be found on all major social media platforms, more advertisers in Japan who our agency works with are looking at influencer marketing as part of their 2022 strategy.
Previously we wrote about what you need to know when working with Japanese influencers, and if you are in need of a quick refresher then much of the information in that article still holds true today.
Of particular importance to note is that influencer marketing will always offer less control compared to digital advertising.
That means brands who have never dipped their toes into influencer marketing or that are coming from a purely performance marketing background will need to adjust strategy accordingly in order to integrate it within their current marketing mix.
Given the current digital landscape we believe that with the right strategy in place, it may be worth considering partnering with local influencers to help supplement your brand’s marketing efforts in Japan.
D2C brands and digital-first brands in Japan all want a bigger share of the ecommerce pie and their number continues to increase.
However, when it comes to online shopping in Japan, sites like Amazon and Rakuten are still immensely popular and influential among Japanese consumers.
In particular, Amazon’s sales grew exponentially during the pandemic and shows no sign of stopping, as more users embrace shopping online in Japan.
But a shift is occurring on the brand side of the ecommerce equation, when it comes to online marketplaces and online shopping malls, which is why we believe D2C brands are going to continue to continue to be aggressive in their quest for market share in 2022.
Indeed, more and more brands are weighing the costs of doing business on Amazon as merchants and selling on the Amazon marketplace.
The same goes for Rakuten and other online malls.
The cut of the profit that these online marketplaces take can really eat away at a business’ margins and this is encouraging more and more brands to try and establish their own direct-to-consumer operations.
In many cases digital savvy brands would rather sell directly to the end user and own the customer relationship rather than sell more, at lower margins, while also sacrificing their ability to grow a loyal brand following.
Finally, as we mentioned earlier, access to first party data especially is proving to be even more important after what brands learned post-iOS 14.5, and with third party cookies being gradually phased out on Google next year, it’s becoming more and more important for businesses to focus on their direct to consumer ecommerce sales.
Investing More in Quality of Ad Creative
Performance marketing, especially on Facebook and Instagram, has taken a tremendous hit post-iOS 14.5 here in Japan.
The promise that paid social would allow for “targeting the right user at the right time” is no longer within advertising platforms’ capabilities because of the significant decrease in user data that is now available.
Furthermore, with the various ad platforms move towards even more automation, advertisers are becoming unable to gain a leg up on the competition simply by being better at using Google Ads or Facebook Ads Manager.
This is why moving forward in 2022 and beyond brands will need to focus more on the other elements of their digital advertising, most notably ad creative.
Of course ad creative was never unimportant, however, in the case of Facebook ads the algorithm used to be able to compensate for lower quality creative to a large extent.
But nowadays that is not the case.
Advertisers can no longer rely on mediocre and lackluster ad creative. Instead, all aspects of their digital advertising need to be at as a high of a level as possible to in order to compete and win out against other businesses vying for the same customers.
Coming from our own experience, our agency’s ecommerce clients have achieved a significant increase in performance and ROI after putting more emphasis on design and creative.
Finding New Ways To Approach Digital Attribution
So far the recurring theme throughout our discussion of the digital marketing trends in Japan for 2022 has been that Apple’s iOS 14 is forcing digital marketers to significantly reevaluate major elements of their digital ad strategy.
For ecommerce brands in particular, accurate attribution on the Facebook ad platform has become increasingly difficult to establish.
In fact, because Facebook has lost much of the ability to track users as they once did, they are now relying on statistical modeling to determine whether or not a Facebook advertisement ultimately played a role in a buyer’s online purchase.
In other words, Facebook is more or less making an educated guess in taking credit for their contribution and ROAS (return on ad spend) claims made by Facebook within the dashboard reports must now be taken with a heavy grain of salt.
As one might expect, this new way of handling attribution does not inspire much confidence in Facebook ads ability to generate a positive return for advertisers on the platform, and is just one of the reasons more and more advertisers are looking to diversify ad spend away from Facebook.
Most importantly to the discussion of attribution though, with ROAS figures on Facebook now proving to be more or less unreliable this greatly complicates both digital media planning and digital media buying functions. Because digital marketers in particular rely heavily on ROAS as a major KPI and an indication of campaign success new approaches are necessary to both gauge performance and achieve various marketing objectives.
At Plus Alpha Digital we believe that how brands measure digital advertising performance and success in 2022 and beyond now requires a different approach towards attribution in order to effectively advertise. While it is definitely a departure from how things have been done up until now, we’ve managed to help our clients navigate this new landscape and deliver some big results in the process by adapting their strategies and media mix to meet these challenges.
Last year there were major changes to the digital marketing landscape brought about by Apple’s iOS 14.5, which many businesses are still struggling with.
In order to meet your marketing goals for Japan in 2022 it will be important to continue to adapt to this new digital landscape, while keeping an eye on new trends and developments on the ground.
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Interested in working together? Contact us and schedule a call to see how we can help you achieve your digital marketing goals in Japan in 2022.