Leading Japanese Social Platform, LINE partners with Dentsu Isobar
Last week, in an event overlooking the Tokyo skyline in the newly opened headquarters of LINE Corp, the leading social messaging platform in Japan, Dentsu Isobar focussed a panel discussion on the potential to use Line to unlock new business opportunities in Japan and across Asia.
It is not the first time Line and Dentsu Isobar have worked together, with the Tokyo-based team already managing a number of brands using Line’s business accounts offering. For brands in Japan this service plays a central role in maximising convenience to generate new revenue sources and power innovative experiences for brands and consumers.
Since its launch in June 2011, Line has become an essential part of the digital lives of Japanese people and today LINE leads the social messaging services in the country. According to general user data collected across the country, LINE’s importance as a communication tool is such that there is in fact, minimal bias towards particular age groups or professions in its usage. In 2016 it was the third highest ranked messaging app in the region, following WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and it has positioned itself as the app leader of its kind in Japan and a consistently expanding influence overseas especially in Southeast Asia.
LINE enables more than mass communication; it brings the customer closer
At the event, Shintaro Tabata, LINE’s Senior Vice President emphasized the opportunities LINE holds beyond messaging. Its expansion of utility in recent years has led to its development as a viable platform for business. He spoke of a truth for LINE in digital marketing: A channel that goes beyond conventional advertising, expanding into CRM and other areas of commerce, enabling wide-range user experiences in the growing smartphone market. Leveraging LINE will open doors to numerous marketing possibilities ahead as businesses and brands expand their digital presence.
According to a Nielsen report, smartphone users under the age of 64 have surpassed Japanese PC users in the same age range. 70% of all their time is spent on apps and an even closer look on their app consumption revealed that only 12 apps are launched more than ten times a month on average. As migration from PC web browsers to smartphone browsers and further into apps continues to occur, LINE stands in the frontline of one-to-one user communications, as the main and the most actively used messaging app for the vast majority in Japan.
Experience Design is just the start of expanding LINE's potential
Dentsu Isobar’s Social Media Marketing division expanded on the topic further. Experience with 50+ brands under the belt speaks volumes about their expertise creating digital marketing plans using LINE Business Connect for official accounts. Ranging from using LINE as a form of media, rolling out marketing campaigns, and developing new services, Dentsu Isobar sees LINE as a viable platform for business and commerce solutions. From purchasing to engagement and their respective funnels, their skills sit on three core pillars about how to effectively use LINE accounts: Qualitative research to analyze how accounts are used in the given industry, relevance of content that speaks closely to users and developing a communication strategy powered by data.
Producing successful LINE marketing campaigns needs more structure. Collective known among them as “The Creation,” they hold a process that responds to a series of steps. When done right, they will turbocharge campaigns to victory:
MOTIVATE - Find a compelling reason for people to want to take part.
PARTICIPATE - Design an environment where participation is simple.
REWARD - Deliver a sense of satisfaction for having participated.
AMPLIFY - Create a trend.
Knowing the consumer, coupled with creativity and flexibility to adapt to their ever-changing needs are driving forces at Dentsu Isobar that allow the creation of social experiences throughout Japan.
A future with LINE - The digital marketing frontline
Cedric Courcelle, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing and e-Commerce from Philip Morris Japan (PMJ) presented digital marketing approaches using LINE for its iQOS brand of heat-based tobacco -an advanced smoke-free product. With one out of five smokers reportedly converted from regular cigarettes today, iQOS is a local sensation, and it is the market leader within its category since its 2015 launch.
For PMJ, digital progress continues in Japan, recently announcing a business partnership with LINE. The new partnership brings a brighter future, one where consumers can enjoy exploring the iQOSphere, a dedicated community site for users, and also link their membership by becoming friends with the brand’s official LINE account in Japan for extra perks and alerts like for instance, when it may be time to replenish. The iQOSphere account uses an AI chatbot to communicate with users as a starting point and it’s more than just that. It makes a creative use of digital, allowing direct communication between the company and the end users.
The marketing industry continues to work towards in refining and increasing the involvement of AI and machine learning in the future. Artificial intelligence needs to further develop and have its business potential invigorated. For this, LINE is committed to a "communication first" vision for AI design while Dentsu Isobar, as a digital agency, has pledged to focus on continuing to lead by example. Digital transformation for iQOS and brands that wish to implement LINE as a part of their digital strategy implies consideration of more than one perspective and technology.
In summary the panel concluded, Japan stands differentiated from other markets and marketers are aware of the existing challenges brands face to drive business results with the use of digital. LINE's already enormous reach as a part of a strategy, making use of methods such as beacon technology or Clova, LINE's recently announced cloud-based AI platform have been proven effective to drive creative offerings and new revenue streams. While businesses try harder and harder to close the gap between brand interactions and commercial transactions, LINE’s agility to reach consumers with inspiring brand narratives is key. Creativity, supported by technology and empathy will make way for new value and higher brand relevance that will undeniably re-shape the interaction between brands and consumers in the Brand Commerce era.