CyberAgent Said to Form Online Ad Tie-Up With T-Card Owner

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CyberAgent Inc. agreed to form an alliance with the owner of Japan’s most popular shopping-rewards card to offer targeted online advertising based on past purchases, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Culture Convenience Club Co., whose “T Card” rewards program is used by about 40 percent of the Japanese populace, will start sharing its shopping data in January with CyberAgent’s advertising unit MicroAd Inc., the people said. The agreement could be announced as soon as this week, they said, asking not to be identified ahead as the details are private.

CyberAgent, owner of Japan’s most popular blogging service, joins Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. in seeking to deliver more targeted ads based on user behavior. Its shares have risen 21 percent in the past year as the company expands into new areas including native advertising, a strategy that involves marketing messages designed to look like news articles.

“The key is to get data from outside the Internet,” MicroAd Chief Executive Officer Kentaro Watanabe said in a Nov. 25 interview at his office in Tokyo. “We need to capture customers’ real behavior. Such data would be a gold mine.”

Shares of CyberAgent fell 5.4 percent, the most since July, at the lunch break in Tokyo.

Smartphone Usage

MicroAd runs a platform that lets advertisers place real-time bids for advertising spots based on user profiles. Spokeswomen for MicroAd and Culture Convenience declined to comment.

Japan’s Internet-advertising spending more than doubled in the eight years through 2013 to 938.1 billion yen ($7.9 billion), driven by an increase in usage of smartphones, according to a Feb. 20 report from Dentsu Inc., Asia’s biggest advertising firm. The country’s total advertising expenses, including on newspapers and television, rose 1.4 percent last year to 5.98 trillion yen, the Dentsu data show.

Culture Convenience, previously known as Tsutaya Book Store, was founded in 1983 in the western Japanese city of Osaka. Its “T Card” program allows members to earn points on purchases at locations nationwide including JX Holdings Inc. gas stations and FamilyMart Co. convenience stores.