HOW TO SUCCEED IN JAPAN’S GAMING APP MARKET

THE ROLE OF AN AGENCY


Septeni Global has been building marketing solutions for mobile gaming app companies to succeed in the Japanese market for over 10 years. As an agency business manager of Septeni Global, I am honored to have the opportunity to explain the role and the value of agencies in the Japanese market, while diving into the latest game app market trend in Japan.


CHAPTER 1 - JAPANESE GAME APP MARKET


According to the latest data.ai report, the Japanese game app market has hit a plateau in both spending and download growth.



The total population of Japan is small relative to the rest of the world and hence the number of game downloads in Japan is low on a global ranking. However, what is most unique about Japan's mobile game app market is that it ranks second globally after the United States in terms of in-app purchases volume.


This means that there is a large number of core users with extremely high literacy in Japan despite a smaller total number of gamers. Also, “mobile game in-app purchase” is strongly rooted in the national gaming culture.


In addition, our own data indicates that CPI (cost per install) of the game app in general is gradually increasing every year.


In summary, the Japanese market has two main characteristics.


CURRENT STATE OF THE JAPANESE GAME MARKET

1) Both the literacy of gamers and their in-app purchase rate is high, but the number of downloads has hit a plateau.


2) CPI (cost per install) is increasing every year, and the advertising unit price is also rising.


In other words, Japan's mobile game app user base is saturated and the pie is limited, leading to rise in the advertising unit price as companies compete for the same small number of users.


In the midst of this, the number of foreign game apps entering the Japanese market has accelerated in recent years. Below is a list of the top 100 titles in sales in Japan in 2020 based on our own research. 34 titles out of all 100 titles were released by publishers outside of Japan.

Septeni Global is helping with most of these company's marketing strategies. And I would like to share what challenges overseas players are facing when entering the Japanese market, and what kind of solutions we are providing to solve those challenges.


CHAPTER 2 - CHALLENGES IN

THE JAPANESE MARKET

While we have been helping overseas clients' business expansion into Japan for over 10 years successfully, one of the biggest challenges our clients always had to overcome was understanding the unique culture of Japan to connect with the local audience.


In my opinion, the following three cultural aspects unique to Japan are the key obstacles for overseas clients.


1) Language

2) Creatives

3) Concept of media buying


Let's talk about these three aspects.

1) Language


Needless to say, the language barrier is still extremely high in Japan. According to the English proficiency index, Japan ranks 78th out of 112 countries in the world, and there are many Japanese who do not understand English.


There are also many cultures unique to Japan, and when launching a game app for the Japanese market, it is very important to optimize the language and localize the app with the Japanese culture in mind.

2) Creatives


Language and cultural barriers are also critical for success in advertising creatives. Many app publishers outsource the localization of their apps to specialized vendors, whereas the marketing is carried out by the person in charge of marketing in their home country. Advertising creatives that have localized languages ​​and expressions for the Japanese market yields far better results than distributing the creatives created in English for the global market in Japan.


3) Concept of media buying


The larger the promotion, the greater the number of media will be used. In Japan, there are many placements where advertisements cannot be secured without going through an ad agency, and TV commercials are the most representative of this practice. Even in digital media, there are some branding menus that are exclusive to agencies.


CHAPTER 3 - SEPTENI GLOBAL'S STRUCTURE

TO OVERCOME THE BARRIER

1) An organizational structure specialized in marketing support for overseas gaming companies


Septeni Global is an organization that specializes in overseas business within the Septeni Group, which has approximately 2,000 employees. This year marks the 10th anniversary, and we have offices around the world. We mainly support marketing activities in Japan for overseas clients, and we have a lot of great track record in marketing support for game apps in particular.


2) Creatives


The trends in creative design in English-speaking countries and those in Japan differ greatly. Our company's track record has proven that there is a big difference in CTR and other key metrics when actually distributing advertisements.


English UA vs Japanese UA Creatives

As part of the Septeni Group, we have led the digital marketing industry at the forefront of digital marketing in Japan for nearly 20 years, and based on our extensive track record, we have a vast database of case studies of effective and efficient creatives.


In addition, Septeni Global's creative team has built a team structure that can be optimized for multiple languages, so we produce creatives not only for Japan, but also for South Korea, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, etc. We have an organizational structure in place that allows mass production based on our deep understanding of the marketing context.


3) On-Off Integration


As mentioned above, the Japanese gaming app market has hit a plateau, and multiple titles are competing with each other on a daily basis for a limited number of users.


For this reason, the marketing budgets of each company are increasing year after year, and nowadays, almost every title with great success is making a large investment in TV commercials around grand launch.


Thanks to the capital and business alliance with Dentsu Group, Japan's largest comprehensive advertising agency, we are also strong in large-scale promotions including TV commercials and offline events.


So far, we have explained the current condition of the Japanese gaming app market and the role of agencies in Japan. There is still a lot of information that cannot be shared here. Also, for the success of our clients, the most important thing for us is to have a firm understanding of them as a partner, and I believe that everything starts from there. If you happen to read this article and have even a little interest in the Japanese market and Septeni Global, please feel free to reach out to us.


RYUTA IRISAWA

VICE PRESIDENT


Ryuta Irisawa has successfully managed many overseas clients, mainly from Greater China, into Japan. He has been in charge of the strategy of many large-scale promotions and has a wide range of experience from branding to user acquisition, mainly in the digital domain. After joining Septeni in 2013, he spearheaded the Social Media advertising management team as a founding member. In 2014, as a consultant, he was instrumental in establishing the advertising management team for supporting Twitter. After joining the global sales team in 2017, he worked as a sales representative for many large-scale clients. In 2018, he received the annual MVP award.


ABOUT SEPTENI GLOBAL


Septeni Global is a global organization that specializes in digital marketing. With end-to-end services, we are committed to providing solutions from strategic planning to creative production that centers on brand awareness and user growth in the digital domain.

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