Embracing Japanese culture is key for advertising success

Speaking on the second day of CasinoBeats Malta, Andrea Bellezza, vice president of EU and Asia pacific at KaFe Rocks, noted that ‘not everyone wants to get involved in gambling in Japan’ as he discussed the advertising restrictions across the country.

As part of the Online casino: Big in Japan? panel, Bellezza discussed the current focus for operators in advertising in the country, and highlighted the concerns that are prominent among the Japanese public when it comes to gambling.

He said: “There’s definitely a focus on SEO because the Japanese market for online casino is in a grey area at the moment there’s no clear legislation whether it’s legal or not with many leaning towards not legal. SEO is definitely one of the best ways to bring users towards our partners and operators.

“Advertising is very restricted and there’s difficulties in going out and doing advertising. Not everyone wants to get involved in gambling in Japan, it isn’t perceived as a good thing. So SEO is definitely one of the best ways to bring users.

“Sometimes it is about connecting with the right person and convincing them that we are not breaking the law.

“From what we have seen, many casino operator companies still go through the, not so mainstream websites, so for example you see a lot more advertisements through porn websites.”

Belleza was joined on the panel, which was sponsored by Dimoco, by Natalie Meyer, CEO and founder of Tokyoesque, Robin Reed, CEO of Ichiban Ventures, Michael Penn, executive editor of the AGB Nippon and Andrew Gallatly, head of global research at Vixio who moderated the session.

Reed claimed that Japan was a ‘total gambling market’ which has seen an online growth which he believes ‘hit the sweet spot’. He said: “It is a total gambling market if you include Pachinko and amusement games, 38bn, yet only a small portion of that is in online casino, about 300m, yet casino is growing online at a 15 per cent compound rate, so they have really hit that sweet spot with casino digitally transforming.

“I think a lot of this growth is coming from the younger generation who are looking for a different experience than the traditional Pachinko content.”

Penn echoed the thoughts of Reed and Bellezza in regards to growth in online gambling, highlighting his own experience while currently living in Japan. He said: “The short answer is yes. In the course of my coverage I am scanning through Japanese language websites and find various gambling ads that appear to be advertising various online gaming and gambling sites and it’s becoming an increasingly common sort of thing.

“I do believe that the advertising is getting out there and for those that are going to the more popular culture sites it’s now quite a normal thing.”

Meyer stated that operators need to show the Japanese community that they have thought about the market and considered ways that they can ‘localise’ their product offering.

She said: “One thing to add to that is how to attract users and how to obtain them and a big factor to that is, does your website does your website differentiate yourself from the other casino brands and localise itself into Japanese and one of the things that I have noticed is that even the best of them have things that they can do better to retain their users.

“There’s also another route to advertising which I haven’t seen many use and that’s influencer marketing but we have started using it for our clients. If you use the right way of building a relationship with them and approach them in a trustworthy way then they are open to doing that.

“The number one thing that I also point out is that you’re dedicated to the Japanese market and the way to do that is often an attention to detail, the privacy policy and the terms and agreement, all of that needs to be translated into Japanese.

“Even more important is that you’re showing that you are doing something which is Japan only, is it a mascot character you have or is there a special reason you’re in the Japan market? Something which shows you have taken the time to deal with what Japanese design expectations are and delved into that and then localise your website that can be appealing to the Japanese perspective.”

In regards to the opening of integrated resorts in Japan, Penn noted that it wouldn’t be until 2027 when one of the first will open its doors. Penn went on to claim that there has been a ‘strong shift in the winds’ in terms of digitisation in Japanese society as a whole which could ‘overflow’ into the gambling market.

He said: “I think the Japanese society, which has been very resistant to moving into this digital world will now make this shift at a surprising speed in the next couple of years and I think that it would have an overflowing effect into the gambling market as well.

“I would be shocked if the Japanese government’s overall legislative framework changes anytime soon when it comes to online gambling gaming. It’s really an issue that politicians don’t want to touch.” 

Meyer concluded: “You can’t really underestimate the power of the trend in Japan. If you have five to six years to build up to an IR in J you have the time, hopefully, to ease into it and help the public see it’s not so scary and that there’s interesting aspects to it as well. 

“I think once that happens then all the early players who are now on online casinos can atleast get that early loyalty from the Japanese consumers and then that’s going to spread like wildfire.”

CasinoBeats Malta Digital, delivered in association with Gaming Malta, takes place from 30 June to 2 July 2020 and features 40 virtual exhibitors, numerous networking opportunities, 130 leading speakers, and countless business opportunities for 3,000 senior 

decision-makers from operators, suppliers, affiliates and other industry stakeholders.

Alongside the exhibition, networking and conference, all delegates also gain access to the full range of entertainment on offer, including free-play slots, daily competitions and a selection of prizes such as iPads and cash.

Find full details of the event, including information about how to register and the discounts available on company group passes, at the event’s official website: https://sbcevents.com/casinobeats-malta-digital/