Mass Media and Search in Japan

I am watching TV. It almost seems that one out of three TV ads end with a search box with a keyword.

Who actually searches those keywords? And how effective are these marketing tactics?

This is called ‘mass rendo’ in Japanese, driving search traffic from mass media like TV, print, and radio.

Impress R&D surveyed which media influenced consumers to search. Number one is TV programs at 63.9 percent, followed by TV ads at 35 percent, and friend’s referral (WOM) at 32.7 percent (Source: Internet Hakusho 2010, Pg 197).

TV Programs – 63.9 percent

TV Ads – 35 percent

Friends’ Referral – 32.7 percent

Newspaper Articles – 25.8 percent

Ads in Mail – 20.8 percent

Magazine Articles – 20.2 percent

Family’s Referral – 20.2 percent

Banners on Websites – 18.4 percent

Newspaper Fliers Ads – 16.6 percent

Newspaper Ads – 15.0 percent

That search box (TV ads) is the number two influential media in search.

People who search keywords from TV ads said they prefer to type in keywords rather than URL. It’s a different practice from the usual search. Internet users are not asking for the best match, they are asking for specific sites and products.

One of the reasons why users prefer to type keywords rather than URL is the nature of languages. In English, a URL is associated with company names or English words like companyname.com or productname.com. Since domain names only allow alphabets and numbers, Japanese users find it easier to use Japanese keywords to find companies and products.

Using big budget to drive search can be risky work. Advertisers must rely on search engines to be there at the right place.

Ever since TV commercials started to use the search box, it has become a work for SEM agencies to secure the top position for both natural and paid search results. The last thing advertisers want is to have the traffic go to their competitors.

You will find some trends in keywords that advertisers use. None of them use big keywords.  It’s merely impossible to secure the top position for big keywords in such a short time, so they prefer to use long-tail keywords. If an advertiser is marketing their new condominium, rather than buy ‘condominium in Tokyo’, ‘big blue condominium in Tokyo’ is used.

However, keywords cannot be too far end of long-tail keywords. Google needs sufficient amount of search volume to be displayed in paid search placements. (Yahoo Japan will display paid search in all keywords regardless of volume.)

Mass media is driving search traffic. New technology is making it easier to search.

Recently, Nielsen Wire reported 68 percent of smartphone owners in the U.S. use their smartphones while watching TV. This report is not available for Japan, but smartphone sales in the country are growing rapidly at 370 percent for 2010.

With more smartphones, more people are watching TV with search capability; it seems ‘mass rendo’ will remain to be the traffic driver in search for a while.

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