Digiday Research: How Japanese publishers are approaching programmatic

This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

Earlier this month at the Digiday Publishing Summit in Kyoto, Japan, we sat down with 40 executives from international publishers to get their thoughts on the state of programmatic adoption by publishers. Check out our earlier research on the future of programmatic TV here. Learn more about our upcoming events here.

Quick takeaways:

  • Three-quarters of publishers in Japan reported increased revenue from programmatic advertising in the past year.
  • Only 15 percent of Japanese publishers collect more than 50 percent of their revenue from programmatic advertising.
  • Roughly one in five (21 percent) of Japan’s publishers actively block content from users employing an ad blocker.
  • Programmatic advertising will grow to be worth $2.54 billion annually in Japan by 2020, up from $1 billion per year now.

Programmatic becomes mainstream
Japan’s media landscape is steadily maturing. Its once nascent programmatic market now accounts for over $1 billion dollars in digital ad spend, compared to just $10 million in 2013. Research based on a Digiday+ survey of publisher executives found that Japan’s publishers are reaping the benefits. Seventy-six percent of publishers reported seeing an increase in programmatic revenue over the past year.

Publishers don’t depend on programmatic
Despite its growth, most publishers aren’t reliant on programmatic advertising for the majority of their ad revenue. Only 15 percent of companies relied on programmatic advertising for half or more of their ad revenues.

However, 85 percent of publishers now count programmatic as a revenue source. This implies growing adoption of programmatic advertising in Japan, given that just three years ago 74 percent of marketers, in a Digiday and AdRoll poll, weren’t even aware of it.

Despite the increased spending on programmatic, it still only accounts for 10 percent of the roughly $10 billion spent in Japan on digital advertising every year and 1.6 percent of the total $60 billion advertising spend. Marketers in Japan are still more likely to favor traditional print and TV advertising, meaning it will be a long time before most publishers call programmatic their dominant revenue source.

Blocking ad blockers
While early figures on ad blocking in Japan varied from 1 to 10 percent of internet users, that number has grown significantly. Last year, 26 percent of Japanese users employed an ad blocker. Japanese publishers might not have initially felt threatened by ad blocking, but they are now starting to fight back against ad blockers. Twenty-one percent of publishers in the Digiday survey acknowledged they block content from audience members using an ad blocker. Their strategy is similar to that of English-language publishers that force users to whitelist them or lose access to their content.


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