Japanese Banks Turn to Third-Party Advertising

13 August 2003

Japanese advertisers have a new way of reaching consumers – through the nation’s banks.

The banks have recently begun to turn to advertising as a new way to make money. As a result, customers can expect to see third-party advertising on automatic teller machines and in banking mail.

For example, ATM screens in eighteen of the Saitama Prefecture branches of Saitama Resona Bank last week began running ads for a local soccer tournament and the gubernatorial elections. Its sibling Resona Bank intends to feature similar ads at 12 outlets in Tokyo and other regions.

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking will begin to use ATMs in this manner later in its fiscal year. But its first advertising venture will launch as soon as this month, when it starts including leaflet ads for third parties in its mailings to customers.

This tactic should not cost the bank any extra, as its typical mailing package weighs around 20 grams below the minimum postage rate step. Sumitomo Mitsui sends around 150,000 letters a month, and believes it can make hundreds of millions of yen each year from the accompanying advertising.

These new practices have been cleared by the country’s Financial Services Agency, which ruled that they do not contravene the ban on banks operating side businesses. Advertising is a welcome new revenue stream for the banks, which have been under pressure from the FSA to improve their performance.

Data sourced from: The Asahi Shimbun (Japan); additional content by WARC staff