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Reliance on Online Media Grows in Japan

But trust in those sources is in decline

March 14, 2017 | Media

Following broader worldwide changes in media consumption, more internet users in Japan say they are turning to digital rather than traditional media sources for news and information. But they trust those sources less than they did five years ago.

Internet Users in Japan Who Trust Select Types of Media as Sources of News and Information, 2012 & 2017 (% of respondents)

A study by Edelman, which surveyed internet users in Japan in 2012 and again in 2017, found that while respondents’ confidence in search engines and social media grew, the proportion who trusted traditional media fell 9 percentage points, decreasing from 48% in 2012 to 39% in 2017.

But even as more of the country’s internet users rely on digital sources, consumers in Japan also express growing concern over how digital companies safeguard their personal information and privacy.

Internet Users in Select Countries in Asia-Pacific Who Trust that Their Digital Activities Are Not Being Monitored, Dec 2015 (% of respondents)

For example, a December 2015 study by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) showed that less than a third (31%) of internet users in Japan trusted that their digital activities were not being monitored.

While the CIGI study does not specify “who” is doing the supposed monitoring, the perception of online privacy invasion is enough to trigger worries among digital consumers in Japan. These same worries bubble to the surface in other research as well.

For instance, an April 2016 study from JustSystems found a growing number of internet users in Japan are using ad-blocking technology to prevent attempts to acquire information about their online viewing habits and thwart computer viruses.

It seems that media companies in Japan and their advertisers face a tricky balancing act. On one hand, more of the country’s consumers rely on their platforms for their daily media diet. But they also face growing challenges to maintain the trust that underpins this relationship. Navigating this strained relationship with internet users will be a key challenge moving forward.

Jeremy Kressmann

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