Helping Japanese Advertisers Navigate Contextual Advertising

Japanese marketers must continue to focus on increasing their digital media quality and the following recommendations can help them focus on making quality impressions

Helping Japanese Advertisers Navigate Contextual Advertising

By, Takeshi Yamaguchi

It’s been an exciting and somewhat tumultuous time for Japanese advertisers who went to great lengths to plan, launch, manage, and protect their campaigns during the recent Tokyo Olympics. Media quality considerations came to the forefront like never before and advertisers were united to protect their campaigns from wastage and risks. Rightly so, according to the  IAS Media Quality H2 2020 report, ad fraud incidents rose in Japan. The Japanese marketers need to continue to be vigilant when it comes to ad fraud, investing in quality inventory from reputable sources, and monitoring and optimizing with verification partners. 

Japanese marketers must continue to focus on increasing their digital media quality and the following recommendations can help them focus on making quality impressions:

Aiding Brand Reputation. Consumers have become discerning about the context where they consume advertisements and the IAS Ripple Effect study in Japan showed that more than 80% of respondents said it is important for online ads to appear in high-quality environments; close to 90% described ads appearing alongside low-quality content as “annoying”; and nearly 70% are inclined to hold advertisers solely responsible for poor placements.

Advanced technology and solutions are available today to allow for full-page contextual analysis, which means understanding the true meaning of the page by accounting for nuances in context, language, semantics, sentiment, and emotional impact of the content. When the technology enables you to scan the story in detail, keeping in consideration the sentiments and emotions in context, you’ll be better able to differentiate a story that’s talking about something like the risk of increased death, versus a story about frontline medical workers and the sacrifices they’re making; the URL or the headline alone won’t tell the full picture. Our responsibility is to give our customers the ability to make that distinction and align against the content that they feel is right for their particular brand. The always-on brand safety and suitability approach help marketers identify brand-suitable environments while avoiding potentially damaging ones. With this approach, brands are reassured that if and when something goes wrong, they have the best possible protection in place and are in front of any controversy before it unfolds. 

Contextual targeting is replacing third-party cookies. As behavioral analysis is phased out as a targeting methodology, there’s a growing industry appreciation of contextual intelligence’s power to produce highly efficient results thanks to its ability to place relevant, compelling content and other assets in front of interested eyeballs. Contextual targeting has become a top strategy to accurately target ads at scale, and the industry is already planning ahead for the deprecation of cookies by leaning into contextual approaches

While brands test, learn and innovate they continue to maximize their digital investments by focusing on the basics: 

  1. Ensuring a baseline consistency by investing in quality impressions: Quality impressions ensure that a marketer’s digital investment has the opportunity to be effective and not waste media dollars.
  2. Maximizing time in front of consumers in an effective environment and at an effective cost: With the decreasing availability of third-party data, content and context play a key role in identifying audiences and driving relevancy. In addition, maximizing time in front of audiences in a cost-effective way delivers on both performance and efficiency.

We are in the midst of a data privacy revolution. High-profile data breaches and a lack of transparency have left consumers wanting more control over how their data is collected and used. Data privacy must evolve, and quickly. And as it does, so does the marketing strategy that has oft relied so heavily on user targeting and CPC optimisation in the market, ignoring not only context but even brand safety and ad fraud, which is commonly seen as table stakes in digital ad markets around the world. Brand safety and consumer privacy go hand in hand.

Contextual Targeting Helps Marketers

  1. Be purposeful about sentiment:

The ever-increasing scrutiny on the way brands presents themselves has led to a need for brands to be paired with content that is right for their brand. Ad message alignment improves consumer perception and consumers prefer ad messaging that's best suited to the surrounding content environment

Consumer favorability, memorability, and receptivity increase toward ads with messaging related to the surrounding content, regardless of negative sentiment. Ads have to match the tone of the article in some way. One set of ads doesn't always fit all content environments and it’s important for marketers to pair their ads with the right sentiment for their brand and their brand message.

  • Align with contextually relevant content

Contextual targeting delivers buyers unprecedented precision for targeting content that is contextually relevant for a given brand or campaign to increase recognition, engagement, and favorability without any reputational risk.

Similar to traditional contextual targeting techniques, an advertisement is placed next to content that is relevant to the product or the brand. For example, an automotive ad served next to an article about cars. In today’s use cases, this can be extended further to include topical, vertical, and seasonal content.


  • Reach audiences via audience proxy targeting

Privacy regulations and heightened sensitivity create opportunities for contextual targeting, but there are challenges for identity & identity resolution. Without cookies, the industry will pivot toward evolving technology. Contextual Targeting can be leveraged as a new proxy for audience targeting, a solution that can be customised and scaled to reach consumers in the right mindset.

In addition to topical, vertical, and seasonal contextual targeting, Contextual Targeting can be leveraged as a form of Audience Proxy targeting that enables advertisers to reach endemic content that represents where a target audience will be, increasing recognition and positive brand association. For example, For example, individuals looking to start a family will likely visit content about pregnancy, baby showers, and early childhood education.

Contextual targeting is growing as the advertising world navigates major changes. The intent has clearly shifted from mass reach to reach the right audience at the right time and in the right environments. And that is contextual advertising for you.

Takeshi Yamaguchi is the Country Manager of IAS Japan