Web Marketing vs TV Advertising in Japan: Who’s the Winner?

In 2019, expenditures for web marketing in Japan surpassed the value of the most preferred mass-media marketing instrument: TV Advertising.

As many locals may know, Japan is rather traditional in its way of doing some things, coming as a surprise for some, as it is contrary to the stereotypical image of futuristic robots and innovative technology. This may explain why mass-media such as newspapers, magazines, and tv still play a significant role in the advertising industry of the nation.


Television promotions were the favorite out of all the platforms, however that changed in 2019, when for the first time ever, digital advertisements came on top of all marketing media. Let’s take a look at the relationship between these two mediums, how TV advertising and web marketing compare in terms of the analyses and impact that is associated with each of them, and ultimately which is better for your future marketing campaigns in Japan.

The Transition From Mass-Media To Web Marketing
Source: Dentsu

The Transition From Mass-Media To Web Marketing

The 4 mediums that were the center of traditional marketing were the following:

  • TV
  • Newspaper
  • Magazine
  • Radio

These mass-media platforms played a significant role in promotional campaigns for Japan throughout its history, with newspapers even going back to the Edo period with a different name called the Kawaraban. All the 4 combined accounted for a market of 3 trillion yen in the year 2000, signifying the importance of each.

However, web marketing took a higher share against the latter 3 rather quick, going over them in 2010, and finally took over the TV advertising industry in 2019, proving the big transition in the preferred marketing method.

The Gradual ‘Evolution’ of Web Marketing

During the early stages of the new idea called “web marketing”, the common process for everyone to follow, was to create their own website as a type of owned media. Only the experts and individuals with proficiency in technology were able to do this, creating a high barrier for entry to newcomers.

However, with the creation of blog websites such as Ameblo (アメブロ), it became easier for people with no knowledge to create their own type of content/media.

Then came the development of services such as Facebook and Twitter in the US, and mixi in Japan.The SNS tools allowed for an easier to use platform to share their views and information to the world.

Once people were accustomed with creating text based content, attention were laid on rich media, which are contents that contain the likes of video, audio, or images. Using rich media, people were able to receive psychological/sentimental value, along with more diversity and flexibility in terms of the type of message that could be conveyed. The main examples that express this evolution would be the rise of Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and lastly Nico Nico Douga (ニコニコ動画) for Japan.

Have you realized the similarity between all the different web marketing stages/platforms? The one point in common is that they all have a more personalized approach, rather than the mass-marketing approach we’ve seen in mediums like TV. Compared to the conventional style where it was a one-way communication from the business to individual, web marketing created a platform where the arrows go both ways; business ⇄ consumer.

Analyses and Impact Behind TV Marketing Campaigns

Analyses and Impact Behind TV Advertising in Japan

Although we mentioned about the transition to web marketing, it won’t be happening overnight, nor would TV promotion become insignificant anytime soon (especially in Japan). Here are some key points that would be considered when creating a TV advertisement for Japan.


This is a marketing term that took the initials of the terms used when describing the purchasing action process of a consumer.

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Memory
  • Action

Through advertisements on TV, people learn about the products, gain interest and desire by thinking that they may need the products in their life, remembers the ads when going to a store and seeing the product, and end up executing the action of purchase.

Marketing Mix (4P)

The marketing mix is the idea of optimizing the 4 aspects, Price, Promotion, Place, and Product, in order to achieve the highest marketing impact. Albeit this aspect also being a very important factor in today’s web marketing, the ‘promotion’ part is what made the TV advertisements as successful as it is today.

As a Japanese who was living outside Japan, every time I returned to the nation during the summer, there was a catchphrase/slogan that I always saw on the TV, which gave me the feeling that summer is actually here (kind of like the cicadas singing during the summer). The catchphrase was the following:

金鳥の夏、日本の夏  (Kincho no Natsu, Nihon no Natsu)

ー Dainihon Jochugiku Company, Ltd

The above was a TV commercial for an incense that works against mosquitos, that played every summer with a different variation, always having the same catchphrase. As such, I myself was a victim to buy this product at the store. TV commercials make it easy to brand the product using rich media, and associate it with a particular season, object, person (influencer), etc.

A Promotion for All Age Groups

As we mentioned, TV advertisements are rather one-directional, and its sole mission is to convey a promotional message to the viewers, who could be anyone from the large population of the nation. The commercials have to be received well by a wide group of individuals, hence businesses have to focus on making the campaigns catchy and impactful, using various melodies, catchphrases, and acting.

Analyses and Impact Behind Web Marketing in Japan


With the gradual transition to web marketing, AIDMA that was used for mass-media, was adjusted appropriately to AISAS.

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Search
  • Action
  • Share

The importance of search and share became a crucial aspect when encouraging a consumer to purchase, hence businesses increased their focus on testing how to lead a viewer to find their product, as well as the method in persuading them to share it to their own networks. With the possibility for everyone to now share their own content, becoming viral has become one of the best ways in achieving marketing success.

Unique Landing Pages

Japanese TV advertisements are very unique, to the point where some become viral in the US. Many thought that web marketing would lose out on this distinctive aspect, however with the introduction of landing pages, Japanese ads online are still extremely captivating and intriguing. If you’re interested to learn the difference between Japanese and American Landing Pages, click here, as I wrote an article about it.

STP Analysis

As campaigns and promotions are more personalized to the specific persona, STP analysis has become more important than ever.

Segmentation | Targeting | Positioning

When entering a specific niche market, use the above 3 points to plan out a strategy for your web marketing campaign. Segment/Divide the market as much as you can, and create a very clear image on who you want to target, in order to keep a good position within the market.

Analyses and Impact Behind Web Marketing Campaigns


Japan may be one of the nations that has the most active marketing platforms available, coming from its culture where traditional methods are kept to last long. However, that is slowly but surely changing, and the money used on web marketing surpassing the former largest mass-marketing medium, TV advertising, in 2019 is an indication of that trend. On top of that, with the increase in competition, the ability to segment, personalize, and build customer relationships have become more crucial than ever. Hence, if you are stuck on which to choose, I would personally recommend going with web marketing as a way to reach your audience better, and future-proof your campaign.

Interested to learn about what the future of marketing may look like?

Check out this article where I wrote about AR Marketing, one of the main platforms that is predicted to become a core marketing tool for future promotional activities by businesses around the world.

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