Japanese Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing

I guess the current term is PPC, now that SEM has become an umbrella term for PPC and SEO. But anyway, what about buying traffic with contextual ads on search engines and websites? Depending on how big-ticket whatever you’re selling is, it may be a good idea. And selling contextual ads is popular among search engine marketing agencies because they get to skim a commission off all that money that flows through. For us small-timers it is best to make efforts at maxing your free, organic traffic first.

But if you want to try buying ads, the following sources are selling them for Japanese search engines and websites:

Mitsui Bussan’s Listop

One of the weirder services in the Japanese SEM space came not from an internet startup, but from the large trading company Mitsui Bussan. Why a company like this decided to get into the business of selling textual and contextual web ads, I don’t know. Mitsui Bussan became the Japanese representative of a minor U.S. ad system, and branded it Listop.

Despite being part of a large company, the Listop staff was very entrepreneurial and aggressive in contacting site owners, and I signed up with them. It turned out to be a really nice and affordable service with an excellent advertiser online interface. And part of the service was that a Listop staff member would consult with you and write your advertisements if you requested it. You needed to have some Japanese language ability to deal with them, but you didn’t need copywriter level fluency and talent to produce professional ad copy, because Listop took care of that.

As a minor entry in the market, competing against Overture/Yahoo and Google, Listop ended up pursuing B- and C-ranked websites to display its ads on. But for many advertisers this worked out very well. In the context of these smaller, lesser known websites visitors had less ad blindness. And the websites offered good targeting for certain groups like students and moms.

Sadly, Listop shuttered at the end of 2006 after only a couple of years of operation.