June 10, 2014 6:30 am JST

New Line service to let businesses send targeted ads

TOKYO -- Line, known for its namesake instant-messaging application, is moving to provide a platform that would allow client companies to send targeted advertisements.

     The Tokyo-based company will join hands with Salesforce.com, a U.S. firm that provides a cloud-based customer relationship management system.

     By adopting the new service, client companies will be able to filter customers by age, geographical location and gender when sending ads.

     After obtaining a user's consent, the service will link Line users with the client company's own customer database. By linking them, the service will allow the client firms to send targeted ads based on a Line user's sex, age group and other characteristics. For instance, a company could focus on just 20-something women living in Tokyo.

     Furthermore, by tracking purchase records, a client firm could promote specific products again when the data indicates the previously purchased items should be about to run out. It could suggest products based on browsing history as well.

     At present, more than 100 companies in Japan have registered official business accounts with Line, but they are only able to send mass advertisements.

     Since February, Line has been offering a service that allows businesses to send individual messages to its users. With each company responsible for developing its own system, however, not many are using the service. While developing a system can cost 100 million yen ($965,620) or more in upfront spending, adopting the Salesforce system will cost as little as 8 million yen a year.

     Line has 450 million users globally, about 90% of whom are in Asia outside Japan. The company hopes to cultivate demand from businesses abroad, in addition to capturing demand in its home market.