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Japan's technologically advanced population has the highest annual app install rates world-wide and consistently impressive usage rates. As one of the most important mobile app markets, overseas app publishers often deem Japan a significant opportunity to explore. However, with its unique culture and language, it has been a real challenge to successfully penetrate the Japanese market. Literal translations don't work in Japan and can be misleading. Understanding the culture is key to truly making a connection that catches the attention and meets the needs of Japanese users. In this article, we share some insights on how to come up with the localized creatives, from ideation to production.

Some of the UA creatives often seen in Japan are those with multiple characters lining up, a split view of actual gameplay, imitation style, profile style, live-action materials, and many more. There are many different ways to communicate with the users but which one should you choose for your brand?

Septeni Global Experts shares best practices and processes from their own practical localization experiences of executing UA ad campaigns for multiple brands successfully in Japan.

Let’s take a look at what kind of creatives actually work for Japanese users!

Septeni’s ways of thinking for creatives

First of all, creativity needs to be cultivated every day and Septen’s approach is to gather creative ideas on a daily basis to create powerful ideas that improve ads’ performances.

There are two key methods to get inspired by ideas. First, we promote a culture of creativity in the organization by building a community where each member exchanges ideas. Art directors will share interesting UA and branding ads they are inspired by. Brainstorming, regular reviews and discussions help us keep abreast of current ad trends and utilize this knowledge for future creatives for campaigns. The other one is using idea-sharing sites. One of the most popular sites in Japan is Pinterest. You can curate ideas by searching by keywords or you can also curate similar designs.

After ideation, we explain how to apply these ideas into making the UA creatives.

First, please choose the type of presentation methods base on the KPIs. Do you want to acquire new users or re-engage with inactive users? Next, adjust the creatives based on the characteristics of the media platforms. Lastly, what kind of users you target makes a great impact on the scheme of creatives as well.


Creating creatives based on a variety of KPIs

The kind of creatives created varies based on the purpose of each campaign, but you can refer to some specific cases below.

Branding (Awareness): Attempting to complement mass-reach and interlinked with TV commercials.

Install: Messaging to encourage to install

Retention: Appealing new features and events to existing users

Brand awareness ads:

In order to increase awareness, ads need to be exposed to many users. Picture your targets’ thought process (“Want to click it” -> “Want to read it to the end” -> “Want to share it”) when you create creatives for this kind of ads.

Brand awareness ads:

Make new users understand and feel attracted by the appeal points of your game (Worldview, characters and how to play) in order to have them download the game. The targets’ thought process would be similar to “Attention-grabbing” -> “Interesting” -> “Want to download”.

Retention ads:

This type of ads target inactive users who once downloaded the game but are not currently playing it. Using terminology which only people who have played the game would understand is essential to create the “insider privilege” and grab their attention. Further, emphasize on the new features and ongoing time limited events to encourage them to re-download the game.


Are you producing the creatives with the correct understanding about media’s characteristics?

You might need to re-create your creatives in some cases based on the characteristics of some media. There are appropriate and inappropriate creatives for each media. For example, Twitter and TikTok are both social media but the characteristics of their platforms are totally different. Twitter focuses on how to grab users’ attention in the first 2~3 seconds of the video. On the other hand, for TikTok, it is important that music and video are synced well.

You need to think through how to maximize the effect of visuals of the video for the first 2 to 3 seconds for TikTok creatives. The most appealing features of the game should be prioritized in the beginning because it is important to think about what kind of beginnings the viewers want to keep watching. For example, we often see roulette-style video ads on Twitter. They present multiple characters, quickly switching between them in a short period of time which is eye-catching and gets users’ attention.

Also, question-style copy in static image ads get more attention from the viewers, which is often deployed to encourage the viewer to keep watching or clicking the ad.


Are your creatives talking to the needs of your target audience?

Ultimately, you need to connect with your audience.

Taking a Sangokushi-style game as an example, the chart below showcases the differences in creatives based on the target audience. It is better to highlight military commanders and character relationship charts for users who are interested in the storyline of Sangokushi. This type of user knows the story and characters' relationship inside out, so you can appeal to them emotionally by showing creatives with names of military commanders or main characters. For strategy gamers who are also interested in the storyline of Sangokushi, highlight the strategic gameplay mechanism instead. For example, even with a conventional strategic interface, you can attract users and get their attention. This type of users simply want to win and might also be committed to climbing up the career ladders to improve status at workplace, so you need to clearly present their needs such as “PVP” and “strategic” when you produce creatives for them.

Your creatives can be effective only when you they clearly understand the audience and complex needs of the Japanese audience. Reach out to us at if you would like to know more information or actual cases of the Japan market!



Joined Septeni (currently Septeni Global) mid-career in 2019. In her previous job, she worked as a creative designer for social media ads and also operated Chinese social media accounts. After joining Septeni Global, she took charge of creative production and delivery management for both gaming and non-gaming clients, with a focus on major Chinese clients.。


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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