Mobile Advertising Intelligence Analysis of Q3 2020 in Japan

5 min readOct 30, 2020

What were the trends of mobile advertising in the Japanese market with leading user value in Q3 of 2020? App Growing Global published “Mobile Advertising Intelligence Analysis of Q3 2020 in Japan” based on global advertising data from April 1 to September 30, 2020, covering 18 global mobile advertising platforms including, Facebook, Admob, YouTube, Unity, Line Japan, and Twitter.

1. Overall Advertising Trends in Japan

Mobile games accounted for 63% of the market in Q3, and their advertisements accounted for 53%. The quarterly proportion has declined. The non-gaming apps increased quarter-on-quarter and made up 37% of the market in Q3, while their advertisements accounted for 47% in Q3, soared from 34% in Q2 by reason of the mass advertising of “SmartNews: Local Breaking News”.”

In terms of mobile games, puzzle games occupied more than 30% in Q3, up 15.9% quarter-on-quarter. Thanks to the mass advertising of “Numberzilla” in Q3, board games rocketed 83.2% while action & racing games dropped 16.5% quarter-on-quarter.

In regards to non-gaming apps, the hot categories of Q3 in Japan are books, news, photo & video, entertainment, and health. The advertisement of books and news apps skyrocketed in Q3, and they occupied the top two places in non-gaming apps, resulting in a corresponding reduction in the proportion of other categories of advertising.

Here are the details about the advertising of mobile games and non-gaming apps in Q3.

2. Hot-advertised Mobile Games and Ad Creative Strategy

2–1 Top 20 Advertised Mobile Games

Casual games did the main advertising and made up more than 50% of the market share. Spot the difference casual game “5 Differences Online” and sudoku game “Numberzilla — Number Math Game” advertised massively in Q3 with more than 20,000 ads per month. Other casual games like Playrix’s “Gardenscapes,” “Township,” “Fishdom,” “Homescapes” and Firecraft Studios’ “Magicgarden” push advertising campaigns strongly for two consecutive quarters.

The hot-advertised RPG mobile games are ZigZaGame Inc’s “Neo Monsters”, Koramgame’s “BLEACH Soul Rising” authorized by “BLEACH” and NEKKI’s fighting mobile game “Shadow Fight 3.” While the hot-advertised SLG mobile games include Long Tech Network Limited’s “Rise of Empires: Ice and Fire” and Yotta Game’s “Mafia City”.

2–2 Hot Mobile Games’ Ad Creativevertising Strategy

Authorized by “BLEACH”,” Chinese publisher Koramgame’s “BLEACH Soul Rising” has its congenital IP advantage and its loyal users. Their materials design were mainly based on IP background and were mostly videos.

Idea 1: MMO exciting battle scenes can show the beats of actions and astonishing skills. Using a close-up of an attractive female heroic character is also a way to create materials.

Advertising Copy: 🎁▼▼▼ファン必見!▼▼▼🎁 <BLEACH Soul Rising> 🗡斬魄刀と鬼道で敵を追い詰めろ!🗡〇「必殺技名」〇や〇「必殺技名」〇を使って 🗡ド派手な斬撃アクションを楽しもう!

BLEACH Soul Rising, Source: App Growing Global Intelligence

Idea 2: Introducing the SSR character and demonstrate the hero.

Advertising Copy: 大人気アニメ「BLEACH」が 待望の新作スマホMMORPGで始動!今ならもれなく 【SSR 浦原喜助】プレゼント


BLEACH Soul Rising, Source: App Growing Global Intelligence

2–3 Top 20 Non-gaming Apps

The Top 3 non-gaming apps in Q3 are all news reading apps, including American Publisher SmartNews, Inc.’s “SmartNews,” Radish Media Inc’s novel app “Radish” and Japanese Publisher Amazia, Inc.’s manga reading app “マンガBANG!人気漫画が毎日読めるマンガアプリ.” Relatively speaking, few overseas publishers are in non-gaming apps; only HK IReader Technology Limited and Bigo’s apps had made it to the Top 20.

2–4 Hot Ad Creatives Strategy

On the one hand, more than 90% of news apps use images as materials and they mainly launch In-Feed ads.

SmartNews, Source: App Growing Global Intelligence

On the other hand, novels reading and manga apps tend to use different chapters of the same popular book or different chapter images as their advertising materials. For instance, the materials below prefer using elements from the book “Baki the Grappler.”

マンガBANG!人気漫画が毎日読めるマンガアプリ, Source: App Growing Global Intelligence

▼Making video material by using contents in manga

3. Japan Market Ad Creatives Suggestion

  1. Japanese players hate advertisements with bad quality, have strong copyright protection consciousness, and have high requirements for the texture and detail of the material. In terms of materials, they also prefer simple, clean, cozy, cute, and two dimensions world style.
  2. Japanese players also pay much importance to the product’s reputation and reviews. They are keen to follow the advertising materials and copies trend or stress the popularity of the app. For instance, they tend to indicate that the game is Top 1 in downloads and its users’ number, etc. So the advice is that the celebration of the product’s milestone or major updates should be shown in the app icons.
  3. APRG/RPG games are very popular in Japan., Thus, it is believed that the direct introduction of the hero characters and custom functions can attract downloads and allow players to acquire the game’s characteristics immediately.
  4. Courtesy Expression: When translating other languages into Japanese, it is necessary to choose different courtesy expressions based on the interlocutor‘ss hierarchical status, such as their social status and relationship with others. If it is an English-Japanese translation, the even more important note is that the English source language is normally informal. If translated directly, the Japanese translation of imperative form may sound too dominant, which may leave a wrong impression.
  5. Twitter and Line, which are more popular than Facebook among youngsters in Japan, are the non-negligible advertising media.