Digital Marketing

Overview

LINC Media has been involved in digital marketing since the mid-1990's, when multimedia was all the rage. We drew upon our in-house technology skills and combined them with our magazine publishing and design skills to both set up web sites of our own (B2C), websites for Clients reaching out to consumers (B2B2C), and Client websites for companies wanting to present themselves to other companies or to recruiting candidates.

Our first major commission in 1996 was from the Australia-Japan Foundation, a semi-governmental organization, that hired LINC Media to produce an advanced bilingual website and online magazine. Amongst many other firsts, the website hosted the world's first online visa application site for Japanese tourists wanting to travel to Australia.

Another Client in 1997 was Jardine Wines & Spirits, a Diageo/Moet-Hennessy Louis Vuitton joint venture, and LINC Media created that company's first online wine magazine and wine store. As we discovered, this site was one of the first in Japan to test the law defining the sale of wines and spirits.

LINC Media has gone on to create a number of major web sites for leading brands in Japan, although by the late 2000's we have moved away from Digital Ad Agency work and more into Web 2.0 community and applications portals. We continue to welcome corporate website development requests, but find that our greatest value is to companies that have a requirement to combine back-end software systems with distinctive front-end design and content.

Over the last five years, LINC Media has created some high-traffic B2C and B2B2C websites of its own. Being our own customer and relying on outside advertising or subscriptions to fund and operate such sites certainly makes the web development teams more sensitive to changing trends and user demands. This means that we are less focused on impressive graphics and animations (although we do create these when required) and instead concentrate on smooth operation, ease of use, and good functionality. We hope that this website reflects this ethos.

Online Communities

One of the limiting factors with websites is the cost of updating and maintaining the content on such sites. This is very manpower intensive and only the highest volume sites in each category (news, sports, music, movies, etc.) have a chance of becoming commercially successful. The answer to increase traffic without significantly increasing costs is the development of Web 2.0 sites that incorporate Social Networks (SNS), Bulletin Boards, Blogs, Wikis, and Database-focused services (jobs, classifieds, ranking sites, etc.).

Regardless of the tools implemented, the goal is to create online communities of users who identify with the website in question and who want to use those tools to create ongoing fresh volumes of content. If properly seeded, moderated, and managed, this user-contributed content draws in more visitors who are self-filtering (because of the focused nature of the site), and thus creates a dramatic increase in the traffic. Online communities are highly attractive to companies wanting to market to such audiences, since their involvement is active and the visitors are all specifically interested in the theme of the site.

LINC Media has created a number of successful communities over the years. Here we highlight two that we have been closely involved in:

www.DaiJob.com

www.daijob.com

Daijob.com is Japan's largest bilingual job website. The business was started by LINC Media in 1997 as Japan’s first commercial tenshoku (mid-career) jobsite, and in the online recruiting space was second only to Recruit's jobsite for college graduates. LINC Media developed in-house the business model, the workflow, the software, the website content, the email magazines, and of course the content and visuals. The site went live in 1998 and quickly aggregated a registered user base of 160,000 people, consisting of approximately 120,000 Japanese and the remainder foreigners largely resident in Japan.

The challenge of DaiJob.com lay in how to build and lock in a community. We invented an online ecosystem, consisting of compelling relevant content, frequent (weekly) emails linking to new jobs and other site updates, and off-line (real world) seminars and conferences. DaiJob.com was the first time a Japanese company had taken a recruiting media-and-events model and adapted it to the Web. Now of course it is common.

A second challenge lay in the competent handling of large numbers of people submitting and retrieving a wide range of dynamic data all at the same time. We overcame this challenge by using open platform technologies such as Java and MySQL, and using leading edge techniques such as creating applications frameworks, separating applications servers from web servers, and building in special applications to monitor and tweak the performance of load-sensitive portions of the site.

LINC Media sold Daijob.com in 2005 to TSE-listed Human Holdings (2415), at a significant price-to-earnings ratio, proving that our execution of this online business was of a high professional and commercial level. Today, Daijob.com continues to run essentially the same software platform and remains one of the leading online recruiting sites for bilingual job seekers.

www.shashin-haiku.jp

www.shashin-haiku.jp

Shashin-Haiku.jp is an SNS website targeting users who like traveling, and taking and posting photos. To give our community a unique image and feel, we received permission to reproduce Haiku (Japanese poems) created by leading author Morimura Seichi, and this has proven extremely popular with middle-age and older Japanese who are rediscovering their own culture online. The user demographic is typically wealthier people who appreciate culture and like to travel. We are finding that camera-toting retired hikers are particularly well represented.

Shashin-Haiku was first launched in mid-2007, and although it has had zero marketing budget, today it receives more than 1.5m page views monthly from 50,000+ visitors and 600 actively posting members. We agree that the number of page views is relatively modest compared to some of our other media sites, but the reason why we have highlighted this site is because of the quality of the audience. We have found that our visitors are very attuned to the theme and values of the site, and accordingly when we market something to them, the response rate is much higher than it would be in a more generalized site. Indeed, we have been able to create a profitable Electronic Commerce business selling gourmet products to users and are now using the site as an "antenna shop" to experiment with the product mix offered and also the pricing (so as to maximize profits).

Electronic Commerce

With the vagaries of the global economy, we believe that ad-supported websites are going to see tougher times in the future, and the effervescence of the market up to 2008 will be difficult to recapture. Traditional advertising spend will go directly to big-traffic sites, and smaller niche sites will find their revenues drying up. We realize this to be a macro trend and therefore we are taking moves to flesh out our community income sources with subscriber content and with actual products for sale.

In 2008 LINC Media established an Electronic Commerce (EC) team, focusing on selling products and services to Japanese consumers. Through the development of a number of SNS sites in Japanese and Korean, our team is steadily building up a set of audiences who can be prompted to take action after receiving a low-key marketing promotion.

The trick to successful EC is to ensure that the products/services being offered are properly matched to the visitor audience, and furthermore to encourage the registered members to endorse and evangelize the products and services in their content. This requires a business-minded editorial person to guide and seed discussions and help create goodwill amongst the community towards the owner/publisher of that community. We have such people providing this proactive content/marketing management.

Online Publishing

While recent focus is on SNS and other user generated content sites, there is still a role for edited content in a more conventional format — the online magazine or web portal. The new direction for online publishing is to develop a high-quality content platform based on intelligent, accurate editorial, then allow visitors to generate volumes of opinion and responses around that editorial. This significantly adds to the traffic being generated by the site, and allows the site to have BOTH credibility and yet also the interest factor of visitor spontaneity and originality. Needless to say, such hybrid sites have to be heavily moderated, but as a labor cost this is far more efficient than generating all the content in-house.

Although currently in English only, the new www.metropolis.co.jp website from our affiliate company CrissCross KK (a Japan Inc. Holdings company) is an excellent example of where online publishing is going. Rolled out in deliverable chunks, the site is based on the same highly readable content produced in the paper version, then is open to significant input by visitors. We believe that the recent make-over of this site and the implementation of a wide range of user feedback mechanisms will significantly boost page view volumes over the coming months.

Third-Party Services

LINC Media uses the expertise gained in its own online properties to assist companies looking to strengthen their own online presence. We are able to provide the following web presences:

  • Formal corporate websites
  • SNS-focused community sites, revolving around a product or brand
  • Applications websites (games, PC apps, mobile apps, etc.), promoting a product or brand
  • Ranking and other forms of survey-driven websites
  • Affiliate-driven aggregation of audiences for email, web, and mobile content
  • Online magazines and portals
  • Online stores and other more sophisticated EC websites
  • Security enhancement of any of the above
  • Review and rebuild of any of the above
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