Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Search box mock-ups in Japanese advertising

jindaiji-r ad As of lately, a lot of Japanese train and TV ads feature a mocked up web search box, suggesting the keyword you should use for getting to the site of the vendor in question, without having to remember its (often awkward) non-Japanese URL — an interesting evolution and in no time more widespread than QR codes (or so it seems).

Although a search term is easier to remember than a URL, there is of course a certain risk that users end up on a different website than the one intended. So, I decided to have a quick look at the SE strategies of three randomly chosen ventures that use web search box suggestions in their train ads.

The first example is Jindaiji Residence, a real estate company. In its ad (pictured above), it surprisingly suggests searching for 深く美しく, which stands for "deep, beautiful" and is probably a word play around the "jin" in Jindaiji. If you search for 深く美しく, something interesting happens: both the Google and Yahoo! pages sport a full-width Jindaiji Residence sponsored ad on top (with Yahoo! also displaying the Jindaiji Residence site as the 3rd result). And, because lots of people will get the order of the words wrong, the same ad is served for a 美しく深く ("beautiful, deep") search.

Example two is Tokyo Star Bank, which suggest you search for its loans offering with the search term バンクベスト ("Bank Best"). Not too great search results on Google nor Yahoo!, but also here adwords come to the rescue: the バンクベスト search term triggers display of sidebar and top ads.

docomo ad A third example is Docomo's human resources ad, which consists of nothing more than... a search box pointing to ドコモ 派遣 ("Docomo staffing"). If you try this with Yahoo! and Google, the Docomo Staff site shows up as the first result. On Yahoo! you have to skip over a number of unrelated ads though, while on Google a wide Docomo Staff ad is displayed on top.

So, to summarize: Japanese companies promote specific search terms in trains and on TV, and register those terms as the adwords that trigger their ads. If lots of potential Japanese customers try these search term suggestions, I can imagine the search box mock-up phenomenon is a huge cash cow for Yahoo! and Google.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The link between Koguryo and Japanese

Koguryo book

A couple of weeks ago, marxy blogged about Christopher L. Beckwith's book "Koguryo: The Language of Japan's Continental Relatives," which focuses on a possible link between the Koguryo language and Old-Japanese. Marxy's entry is a good summary of the book's argument, and he also links to a PDF file showing some similarities between (Old-)Koguryo and Japanese.

And it gets more interesting: when browsing through Google Books today, I found out that Beckwith's book is available in "Full View" format, so you can read the complete work online! I've skimmed through a couple of chapters, and it's very intriguing to see e.g. the similarity between kuchi (meaning "mouth" in Japanese) and its equivalent in Old-Koguryo: kuərtsi. Or tani ("valley" in Japanese) and tan in Old-Koguryo. And there's much more.