Yahoo Japan Has No Interest In Being A Walled Garden

YahooJapanDMPThe number one thing you should know about Yahoo Japan’s DMP: It’s not a walled garden.

“Our data strategy is open, that’s the key word here,” said Toru Takata, SVP and chief product officer for marketing solutions at Yahoo Japan. “Our policy is about being completely open about our data.”

Yahoo Japan, founded in 1996 as a joint venture between Yahoo and Softbank, is Japan’s largest web portal with a reach that extends to 88% of the country’s Internet population. That means Yahoo Japan has a lot of consumer data.

For the last 15 years or so, YJ has leveraged this data – demographic, psychographic, ecommerce, real-time search and web browsing – to boost its own growth. But, more recently, Takata and his team realized that there was value in making that data more available to its roughly 15,000 advertisers.

In 2014, Yahoo Japan turned to cross-channel marketing company Signal to develop a data management platform with a focus on transparency.

YJ’s DMP is built on Signal Fuse, Signal’s open data platform. Signal conducts data matching against its deterministic identity graph to link cross-channel activity and create anonymous profiles around first- and third-party identifiers. Because it’s an open platform, advertisers are able to access those profiles at will and use the insights to inform their marketing strategies elsewhere.

Advertisers that want to use their CRM data on the platform can activate it across Yahoo’s owned and operated properties, as well as the tens of thousands of Japanese websites in Yahoo’s publisher network using Yahoo Tag Manager, a product that Signal developed for Yahoo Japan in 2013.

Rather than cookies alone, which Signal CRO Marc Kiven called “just one ingredient,” Yahoo Japan populates its DMP with real-time, cross-channel intent data.

One large ecommerce player in Japan, which YJ declined to name, recently approached the company looking to leverage CRM data to find new loyal customers. Yahoo Japan used real-time search signals – for example, specific product types or brand names – to expand its client’s reach to 16 million potential consumers.

It sounds like classic lookalike modeling, which it is, but there’s a twist: It’s real-time, said Takata.

According to internal research conducted by Yahoo Japan, if an ad isn’t placed in front of someone within five minutes of that person having conducted a search, the signal loses most of its value, as does the ad itself.

Rather than dropping cookies for retargeting, Yahoo Japan’s cross-channel display business is focused squarely on the moment.

“Real-time is very important, not just from a marketing point of view for our KPIs, but also from the consumer point of view,” Takata said. “As a consumer, I don’t want to get a recommendation based on something I did three months ago.”

Takata’s aversion to the walled garden model goes back to an industry conference he attended several years ago in Japan where Kiven was making a presentation. During the presentation, Kivin placed an image of Kawaja’s notoriously crowded LUMAscape up on the screen.

“During my presentation I said something like, ‘That is what a fragmented, dysfunctional ecosystem looks like—don’t let this happen to you,’” Kiven said. “Afterwards, Toru [Takata] came up to me and the first thing he said was, ‘A rising tide floats all boats.’ I don’t want this to happen to Japan.”

For Takata, sharing with advertisers means caring about the overall market.

“Ultimately, if our customers use our data to do better marketing, it will be more relevant to the customer,” Takata said. “And if our clients are using our data to grow their business, it will help the industry.”

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