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Ads can engage Japanese, but it's hard

News, 30 May 2016

TOKYO: Some 94% of Japanese consumers say they would consider using ad blocking software, the highest proportion in the world, according to a recent survey that reveals most brands still fail to adopt a non-invasive approach to advertising.

With the Advertising Week Asia conference debuting in Tokyo on Monday, video ad tech company Unruly has launched the APAC Future Video Manifesto, which provides guidance to brands on how to respond effectively to the rise of ad blocking.

"Our survey highlights some of the huge challenges facing the ad industry right now," said Haruyo Kagawa, Japan Country Manager at Unruly.

"The industry has largely adopted an interruptive video model, which is a hangover from TV, and consumers are being bombarded with hard sell sales messages which deliver little emotional value.

"You could argue we're hurtling towards an 'adblockalypse', where there's a real risk that consumers will abandon advertising if brands don't listen to the signals and adopt more engaging, non-invasive ad strategies for the long term."

She said consumers are fed up with "ad clutter", such as too many anti-social, interruptive ads, and that the solution is to provide "polite" and "respectful" ad formats that give consumers a better experience.

"Japanese consumers have high standards when it comes to advertising – we've found that audiences here are less likely to respond emotionally to content, so the need to be truly engaging and tell a story is vital," said Kagawa.

The extent to which brands need to work on improving their engagement with Japanese consumers was borne out by Unruly's survey, which covered 400 Japanese and another 800 consumers in the rest of Asia-Pacific. It also involved a total of 3,200 consumers around the world.

Among the findings for Japanese consumers, the survey revealed that almost two-thirds (62%) are put off a brand when they are forced to watch pre-roll, compared to just 45% of their counterparts in Southeast Asia.

Four-in-five (80%) of Japanese consumers say they would lose trust in a brand if they felt an ad feels fake, compared to the global average of 72%, while half (50%) say they like to be able to control video ads.

However, interestingly, a third of Japanese consumers say they find ads that follow them online to be "helpful" – the highest proportion in any of the countries surveyed. The global average is just 20%.

"Consumers are far more irritated by brand dishonesty. They would rather brands were upfront about selling to them," Kagawa told Campaign Asia. "Japanese consumers are actually the most likely to like seeing online ads if they feel the product or service is relevant."

Data sourced from Unruly, Campaign Asia; additional content by Warc staff