Point Of View (POV)

Tomoya Murai, speaking based on the JAAA Monthly Journals, on the challenges in Japanese advertising and the initiatives by JAAA to respond to them

1) With the increasing trend of influencers, bloggers and public at large on social media airing their views about brands and soliciting views on brands, is the relevance of the conventional medium like television advertising or for that matter print medium fast diminishing and a wasted allocation of ad budgets.Will TV go downhill the way print did years ago with falling share of ad pie? What can be done about it?

In Japan, television still boasts the largest share of advertising expenditures, but here as in other countries, digital advertising is gaining rapidly. In the United States and Britain, spending on digital advertising has already overtaken TV advertising, and that wave is expected to hit Japan before long.

 JAAA has adopted activity guidelines calling for efforts to “rebuild the traditional media value,” and we’ve been working in partnership with various industry groups to renew TV’s value as an advertising channel. Last year, amid growing calls from advertisers for better data to track the effectiveness of TV advertising, the JAAA Television Subcommittee launched the Working Group on Data and Performance Indicators for Next-Generation TV and Video Advertising. We’ve adopted new ratings indicators to guide pricing of TV commercial spots—the first major revision in 30 years—and introduced online management of commercial video files. These are some of the ways in which we’re working to make TV a more user-friendly channel for advertisers.

Among American marketing firms, there’s a growing sense that the spread of Internet-connected television could fuel TV’s comeback as the number one advertising channel. My feeling is that TV advertising still has a lot of untapped potential. 

2)With increasing voracity of consumers and potential customers on the social media and the prevalent "nowism" of voice and views, will you and I be soon chased by advertisers to advocate their brands? What are the implications of this for the advertising and marketing industry?

Social media, which began life as a tool for personal communication, has emerged as the hot new trend in advertising communication. Just as requests for Internet ad placements have soared, I think we can expect growing pressure from advertisers seeking to expand their reach via social media.

That said, the distribution of ads via social media has raised new issues about “correctness” in advertising. Facebook users have been warned about clicking on ads for personality-quiz apps, some of which are suspected of misusing users’ personal data.

Looking back over the history of advertisements or ad delivery, we see that each era has raised new questions concerning content and delivery. Misleading advertising was the big issue at one time. Spam emerged as the signature issue back when cell phones were penetrating the market. But in each case, advertising agencies have reflected on their practices and have ended up contributing to the media’s growth and development. Today, with the rise of social media, individual ad agencies and the industry as a whole need to lead the way with “correct advertising” that can inspire trust in this new medium and build it into a channel that advertisers can approach with confidence.

3)Ad industry keeps crying about the threat of consultants eating into their business, but have done little to up their ante to stave off consultants from the advertisers' radar. What can ad agencies do differently to ramp up and retake their voice at not just the CEO level, but at the board level.

In recent years, a growing number of actors from other sectors, including consulting, have been making inroads in the advertising and media businesses, and steadily gaining a footing largely on the strength of individual talent. To respond to this challenge, I think advertising agencies will need to rethink the value and role of eigyo[typically translated “sales”] in their operations. The advertising business comprises quite a few different job categories. The domain of each job category has changed with the times, with the digital component expanding rapidly in recent years. But amid all this change, the function of eigyoin the advertising industry has remained basically unchanged.

 In the advertising industry, eigyopersonnel are the link between the agency and its clients, with responsibility for drawing up the overall marketing plan and navigating the client toward its goals. At a time when most Japanese companies still equated eigyowith sales in the narrowest sense, the role played by eigyopersonnel in Japan’s advertising agencies was a step ahead of other industries. But more recently other sectors have begun talking in terms of “consultative sales,” “proposal-based sales,” and so forth. It’s all about trying to gain a competitive edge by tapping into knowledge and skills beyond the conventional sales toolkit. Now businesses of all kinds are adopting various sales approaches that leverage the unique skills and personalities of their individual eigyoteam members to offer solutions tailored to the needs of today’s advertisers.

With other sectors embracing a style of eigyooriginally pioneered by advertising, what can advertising agencies do to set themselves apart? As I see it, the answer—and one of the most urgent tasks facing the industry today—is for agencies to boost the competitiveness of their human capital by rethinking the role of eigyoin advertising and redefining the skills needed for the job. 

4)Millennials are both a threat and opportunity for advertising communication? What can the industry do to hold and retain attention of this huge influencer base?

First and foremost, the industry needs to understand what makes the millennials tick. A survey report published in July last year by the JAAA Function and Role of Advertisement Subcommittee sheds light on the behaviour of Japan’s millennials. It stresses the large amount of time they spend on their smartphones and the central role smartphones play in their engagement with the world, including information gathering in their individual areas of interest and interaction with others through social media. But it also found that millennials spend about two hours a day watching television and are adept at choosing the medium best suited for a particular purpose, time of day, milieu, and so forth. And contrary to oft-heard claims that young people are turning away from consumption, the survey found that millennials are enthusiastic shoppers. While choosy about price and performance, they're avid consumers of tangibles and intangibles alike. There’s an important emotional component to their behavior decisions in that they’re acutely aware of how they appear to others and alert to what people are talking about, and this is a major motivating factor. 

The advertising industry needs to adopt a position of neutrality and look at TV, digital media, and social media from the millennials’ perspective. It needs to devise effective strategies for plugging into the millennials’ emotional motivators and weave them into the content and format of its ads as it builds stronger lines of communication with this key demographic.



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