Updates From Amazon, Ameba, and Pixiv; What This Means for Digital Marketers

So far it’s been a busy two months in this part of the region and I thought it would be good to take the time out to recount some of the bigger stories that have made the headlines across the digital landscape in Japan.

The digital channel is growing by leaps and bounds, particularly across social, as both Ameba and Pixiv recently hit new record highs in memberships, as highlighted further below. Also, a few steps forward across the smartphone market as Japan prepares for its first smartphone only TV channel to soon launch. As well as new research showing more and more are actively purchasing through the device.

A Rundown of Digital News

Japan’s first smartphone only TV channel to launch in April: A new service called NOTTV created by NTT Docomo, Dentsu, and a slew of private broadcasters is set to launch on April 1, available exclusively for Android smartphones and tablets.

Amazon to bring Kindle to Japan : From April, Japanese consumers will finally be able to buy Kindle. Amazon Japan, the second biggest e-commerce company in Japan, will offer the Kindle for less than 20,000JPY. The e-book market in Japan is worth $1 billion.

Ameba has now topped 20 million users: Ameba(run by local company CyberAgent), launched back in 2004 primarily as a blog network. Then expanded into various services like Ameba Pigg, its virtual community hit. Various ad models are available in Ameba.

Pixiv reaches 4 million members: Pixiv is Japan’s most popular social drawing service that launched in 2007. Users within Pixiv are generating 2.8 billion page views per month and have so far submitted 24.5 million drawings.

A city in West Japan, forces all employees to register and work on Facebook: Takeo city in Kyushu island has switched the city website into Facebook, which now gets 50 times more page views. All city staff will be on Facebook from April, saving around $100,000 annually.

Dentsu terminates strategic alliance with Publicis Group: This alliance that has lasted 10 years shows Publicis acting as the official Dentsu partner for business out of Japan. Both parties are positive on the relationship and will still loosely work together.

A Rundown of Digital Stats

Japanese social gamers on average play for 55 minutes a day: In a recent study by the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association, it highlighted the huge growth of social gaming right now, particularly across Mobage, Gree, Mixi, and now Facebook.

66.6 percent say they click on paid search results: A recent survey from Goo asked a panel about their behavior in clicking banners and 45.4 percent say they have clicked on contextual ads before, and 48.6 percent say they want to click on an ad if it provides a clear benefit.

The two major barriers for social media growth in Japan: The inability to accurately measure the ROI of social media came in at 48.2 percent as the biggest barrier, followed by the lack of internal personnel to handle social media at 39.1 percent, according to Macromill.

Mobile shopping trends: According to research from Goo, 65.3 percent of Japanese actively buy from their mobile phone, with 12.2 percent purchasing “often.” Of these buyers, 74.7 percent purchase using credit cards, 10.6 percent at convenience stores, and 8.2 percent using COD (cash on delivery).

The two key trends that are taking center stage right now seem to be social and mobile. More precisely, it’s the integration of social into mobile as they are so interconnected that as one grows, by default, the other grows with it.

Stay tuned for more market updates. And later this month, Dentsu plans to release its much anticipated annual advertising expenditure update summarizing 2011.

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