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Adtech space in Japan heats up after arrival of three companies


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

July 27, 2017 | 5 min read

The adtech space in Japan is becoming more competitive as companies like Drawbridge, SpotX and Liftoff have either announced partnerships with Japanese companies to enter the market or their own arrival in Japan in recent days.


Drawbridge, SpotX and Liftoff are now competing in the adtech space in Japan

Drawbridge, a company that builds cross-device advertising platforms, started the ball rolling when it announced on 17 July it is entering the Japanese market through a partnership with Mitsui, one of the largest companies in Japan.

The partnership will see Mitsui become the commercial distributor of Drawbridge’s Connected Consumer Graph, enabling local brands and enterprises to leverage the company’s identity graph for applications in adtech, martech, and content management.

Winston Crawford, chief operating officer told The Drum that partnering with Mitsui was a natural choice because of its long history and a great track-record in the adtech and martech spaces. He said that it could bring their solution to market and secure strategic data partners, which is something Drawbridge could not have done on its own.

Crawford added that while one of the biggest challenges that Drawbridge faced around the world is educating the public about its product, it would be a different story in Japan.

“One of the biggest challenges we face internationally is around educating the market on the different types of identity, best practices for validating data, and the details of integrating,” he explained.

“We are the largest commercially available independent identity graph in Japan. There are of course walled gardens in Japan, as there are in the rest of the world, but our graph puts the consumer relationship back in the hands of marketers.”

Four days later, Liftoff, a performance-based mobile app marketing and retargeting platform, announced its arrival in Japan with the appointment of Kota Amano as country manager.

Amano, a former senior director of partner development, APAC at Criteo, will lead the company’s growth in Japan and will be joined by two yet-to-be-named commercial team members in the next several weeks.

Japan will be the third international office for California-based Liftoff, after it established offices in London and Singapore in 2016.

Mark Ellis, chief executive and co-founder of Liftoff, shared that opening more offices in the region was always the target for the company after building its APAC base in Singapore.

“Given the success we’ve seen over the last nine months in the region, we’re incredibly excited to double down with our Japan office, and for Kota to lead our efforts in-region,” said Ellis.

“With mobile ad spend projected to grow 200% by 2021, Japan’s mobile app ecosystem represents a huge opportunity for us as we continue scaling globally."

SpotX, a video advertising serving platform, announced on 27 July that it had also entered the Japanese market with the appointment of a local team made of Japanese media veterans.

Ken Harada, who will assume the role of commercial director, will lead the company, while Masaru Fuchinoue will be appointed to the role director, business development. Kenichi Kiyono will take on the role of director, supply development.

The team it tasked to spearhead publisher relationships in the country, as well as provide demand facilitation efforts to leading Japanese agencies to match advertisers with the best video inventory supply across the region.

Said Mike Shehan, chief executive officer and co-founder of SpotX: “Now is the right time to commit resources to Japan, allowing us to select the best sales, support and development talent across the market as programmatic video starts to take off,”

“While Japan is the third largest media market in the world, its unique makeup sees an entrenched media sales ecosystem in place. But the pressure of digital has set the wheels of innovation in motion, pushing media sales and targeting automation practices into the spotlight.

“SpotX’s entry into the market provides media companies the tools for maximizing video revenue across desktop, mobile and connected TV, while giving them the control, transparency and insights needed to maximize revenues.”

Last month, The New York Times also opened an office in Japan to lead all advertising in the region, including print, native, programmatic and events.

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