I have written before about how QRcodes are a great way to access websites on mobile phones and how they are already commonplace in Japan. They are used in advertising and in everyday services that allow mobile access.
Cabal recently blogged about another method for locating websites in Japan. The method shows a search box with the search term inside that will help you locate the website in lieu of a URL. Of course this implies you should go home and type this term into your favorite search engine to locate the website.
This system only works if you have the top search result position or the top advertising position on that keyword, but I am guessing these companies have made sure at least that they bought the keyword out so they appear as the top paid search result on all the major search platforms. The thinking is that people can remember a keyword easier than a URL. From doing a quick ask-around of Japanese friends, it seems that most find this advertising annoying and unclear. I am not a fan of it either.
Another method that seems to have a quite high representation in Japan and hasn’t been talked about in western press that much is the menu navigation method.
The Menu Navigation Method
This method of getting people to your website is also aimed at mobile users. Entering URLs on a mobile phones can be time consuming and frustrating, so many advertisers are looking at ways to get users to their pages in simple ways that involve scrolling and clicking rather than typing.
This method is based around one of the sad realities of the Japanese mobile web. Most traffic on the mobile web is funneled through the landing pages of the major carriers (DoCoMo, AU and Softbank). It is changing slowly but it is still the case that most people use these pages just as many PC web users use Yahoo, Google or other portal pages to find their content.
This is an example from the ANA website showing the navigation paths from each of the three major carrier topages. NB. DoCoMo uses iMode, AU uses EZWeb and Softbank uses Yahoo Keitai.
Using this established familiarity with this portal page navigation, a lot of advertising replaces the URL with a path of navigation from the top portal page from the major carriers. The carriers are obviously happy because it keeps people in “their world” as long as possible.
More important though, they also charge money for portal listings. This process allows them to filter for “approved” content and control the economics which is fast moving towards free for connectivity on the mobile phone. As connectivity charges go down, total advertising and listing revenues are growing.
The main flaw to this method is the difficulty in remembering the navigation steps, sometimes there are up to 8 pages to click through before you get where you are going. The negative effects of this are limited by the usage case which usually has the advertising appearing in locations where you can refer to the navigation path while entering in your mobile phone. Places such as magazines, train platforms and PC sites are common locations to see them.
The Menu Navigation Method looks to be here for a while, but only as long as the carriers control the navigation pathways. Once people start to break out from the major portals, you may see the use of this technique drop, but if history is anything to go by, the Japanese people will keep to their safe portals for a while yet.