Yahoo! Ads Japan – Should You Use it Over Google Ads?

Posted By Alyaa Ayman

Japan is quickly moving on from traditional-media advertising and heading towards digital advertising. In fact, digital ads are now having faster budget increases than TV ads (around 6% YOY increase in 2020). With that jump in digital marketing, PPC solutions have now become a necessity in almost all ad strategies.

With this in mind, choosing the right digital platform to advertise on can be tricky, especially with the differences between search engines and social media platforms in Japan and the US or other western countries. 

To a lot of people Yahoo! Japan can be one of those platforms that they don’t fully understand. However, if you’re considering expanding your business into Japan, then Yahoo! Japan should be one of the marketing channels you use.

What Is Yahoo! Japan?

Yahoo! Japan History And Evolution

Yahoo! Japan is a search engine just like Google, but while Google dominates the market share in Japan, Yahoo! Japan is ranked as the number 1 web portal and holds first place in PC user volume with a whopping 68%. 

But let’s take a step back and understand the history of Yahoo! in Japan and the reason why it holds one-third of the Japanese search engine traffic volume. 

In 1996 the CEO of SoftBank, a multinational telecommunication company, decided to invest and establish Yahoo! Japan strictly for the Japanese audience. Through constant innovation of the product, and an increasing number of internet users setting Yahoo! Japan as the default browser, Yahoo! Japan gained massive popularity that sadly did not last long enough as many competitors started entering the Japanese market. And after Google’s arrival in 2000, with its simple design and strong algorithm, it was able to become the biggest market share holder in the industry, even in the Japanese market.

Why Choose Yahoo! Ads Japan?

1- Biggest online market reach in Japan

According to Neilsen, Yahoo! Japan holds the spot for Number 1 PC penetration in Japan. Which can be translated to having a huge diversity of its audience base. Even though Google’s market share is increasing, Yahoo! Japan is still dominating one-third of the search market share, making it essential to grasp the opportunity of advertising on Yahoo! Japan to avoid missing out a good chance of reaching your target audience.

2- Localized Services

Yahoo! Ads Japan constantly try to cater for Japanese audience
Another reason why you should be advertising on Yahoo! Japan is because of the localization of the platform. By simply using ads on a search engine that is specifically created for the Japanese market, you are showing your knowledge of what your audience wants and where they want to see you as a brand.

Not only that, but Yahoo! Japan understands the Japanese consumer habits and is constantly updating the search engine with features that would cater these habits and help your brand.

3- Cost Effective

Yahoo! Ads in Japan is Cost Effective

Less competition on any platform means less cost to advertise. There is generally less competition on Yahoo! Japan when compared to Google because most companies focus their strategy and most (if not all) of their search ads budget on Google ads. 

There might be various reasons for that choice like limited budgeting or failing to understand the capabilities of the search engine. This makes Yahoo! Japan Ads more cost effective in terms of Cost-Per-Click in most situations.

4-Merger With LINE

Merging Line and Yahoo! Ads Japan

Kentaro Kawabe (L), president of Z Holdings Corp, operator of Yahoo Japan online services, and messaging app provider Line Corp President Takeshi Idezawa are pictured at a press conference in Tokyo on March 1, 2021. (Kyodo)

If you are not aware of what LINE is, simply, LINE is the most popular messaging app in Japan with almost 70% of the Japanese population using it, 85% of which are active daily. And in 2021, Yahoo! Japan merged with Line to better compete with international tech giants in the U.S and China. Combined together, the user base is around 150 million in Japan, which will definitely have a massive impact on the digital advertising market in Japan.

5-Variety Of Ad Options

Different Types of Ads on Yahoo! Ads Japan

In 2019, Yahoo! Japan renewed its promotional ad products, which made their new ad services more user-friendly, to maximize the performance. The new mechanism that Yahoo! Japan implemented, made it easier for marketers to use Search Ads and YDN Ads (Display etword for Ads). We will introduce more details in the following paragraph. Let’s dig into it!

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Types of Ads That Yahoo! Japan Offers


1- Search Ads

Search ads are text-based ads that appear in the search engine results when users are searching for specific keywords that are related to the ads. There are two ad distribution methods on Yahoo! Japan:

All Ad Distribution: 

Displaying ads on search engine result pages based on recommended keywords. This means that when an internet user enters a search query on a search site, your ads will be displayed on search engine result pages and recommended keyword results.

Search Only:

Your ads will only be displayed on Yahoo! Japan search engine result pages

2- YDN Ads

YDN ads (Yahoo Display Ad Network) have the ability to approach a variety of broad audiences with interest in the product/service of your advertising. You’re not only targeting customers that visited your website before or are searching for a specific keyword, but you’re targeting users who are unaware of your website. YDN also delivers ads on other Yahoo! Japan channels like Yahoo! Japan News and Yahoo! Japan Auction.

YDN provides 7 types of ad types:

  • Text Ads
  • Display Ads
  • Template Ads
  • Infeed Ads
  • Video Ads
  • PC Brand Panel (Image/Video)
  • Dynamic Ads for Display

Google Ads And Yahoo! Ads Features

Google Ads Features And Yahoo! Ads Japan Features

Due to the fact that both Google and Yahoo! Japan use the same algorithm, this creates an anti-competitive market that offers the same user experience when it comes to search. However, Japanese use each search engine differently therefore it is important for marketers and advertisers to know the PPC features for each to tailor their campaign: 

Google Ads Features

  • Japan’s number 1 search engine
  • Minimalistic and simple design
  • SERP focused on Maps (near me recommendations)

Yahoo! Ads Features

  • Japan’s number 1 PC user volume
  • Best for targeting B2B Companies
  • Information rich portal with news, weather…etc

Creating a Yahoo! Ads Strategy

Setting Your Goals And KPIs

First of all, like any strategy, you must identify your goal. Are you after brand awareness? App Downloads? You need to define your end goal in order to choose which sets of ads you need. When setting up your campaign goal, you need to be specific with the numbers you’re after like the ROAS of your ad campaign. 

After writing down your goals, it is also important to know your KPIs.There are different KPIs for ad campaigns on Yahoo! Japan like:

  • Conversions
  • Click through rate (CTR)
  • Impressions
  • Cost per acquisition 
  • Return on Ad spend (ROAS)

Understand your Target Audience

Yahoo! Japan is famous among housewives and business owners. Don’t forget that Yahoo! Japan has the highest PC penetration in the market. You need to create personas for your target audience and see if Yahoo! Ads is the right platform for them by asking the below questions:

  • What is their age group? 
  • Do they spend more time on a PC or smartphones?
  • What are their interests?
  • Do they prefer simple website experience or they would prefer a website filled with a lot of information and ads?

Monitor Your Competition

It’s a given that you should do your own competitive research before starting your campaign. On a platform like Yahoo! Japan, ads are everywhere, and you need to be unique. Monitor the ads from your competition and evaluate them from an objective perspective. They too did their research and checking out what they’re doing can give you insights as well. 

Choose Your Yahoo! Ads Type

This is based on your target audience and their segmentation. Which ads would be suitable for your objectives? Do you want simple search ads for users who know what they’re looking for? Or do you want to create brand awareness? If brand awareness is your goal, we recommend brand panel ads for this specific goal. 

Keyword Selection And Budgeting

Similar to Google’s keyword planner tool, Yahoo! Japan has a Keyword Advice Tool which is very useful when planning your bidding strategy. The tool allows you to enter keywords or a website URL and then it will display various keyword recommendations related to your input. It will also show you various kinds of estimated data based on past performance. Among that data, you will get an estimated cost for your keywords which will then help you get an idea of the budget you should have for your goals and KPIs (impressions or clicks..etc).

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Final Words

Yahoo! Ads In Japan For Targeting Your Audience

Japan’s market is very diversified due to differences in consumer culture. This can make it hard for a business to enter. Yahoo! Ads in Japan should be implemented in your PPC strategy as it showcases your product in different ad styles than Google. Ignoring Yahoo! Ads means that you are missing an advertising opportunity to one-third of the search engine traffic volume which is why we recommend using both Yahoo! Ads and Google! Ads together until you figure out and understand your target audience’s search behavior.

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