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Who is Your New Audience

Today, a representative from an advertising agency reached out to me with a question: “Our client wants to acquire new customers, and we’re considering using lookalike audience targeting on Meta and LINE ads. Do you have any other suggestions?” Before getting to such a question, I couldn’t help but wonder if they’ve even considered, “Who exactly are these new customers the advertiser wants to target?”

In my eight years working in advertising agencies, I’ve seen this type of dynamic quite often. It’s common to see creative tasks being entirely outsourced or blindly accepted without much thought from either party. This issue, unfortunately, is not rare.

Personally, I believe the root of this problem lies in the simple fact that advertisers don’t regard their ad spend as their own precious money. Imagine if the situation were such that if the campaign goals and KPIs weren’t met, the advertiser had to pay all the ad costs from their own pocket. In that case, advertisers wouldn’t thoughtlessly outsource campaign targeting and creatives to third parties, and agencies wouldn’t make thoughtless proposals either. This fundamental issue has only been pointed out by a few industry veterans, highlighting a deep-seated problem within the industry.

Whenever I encounter such situations, I always point them out, even if it means losing the contract. Why? Because, in many cases, there’s no oversight function on the advertiser’s side. If things go wrong, the advertiser can just blame the agency and switch to another one, while the agency enjoys an easy ride until something goes wrong.

The solution is simple: both parties need to share and understand the organizational challenge of not viewing ad spend as their own precious money. They need to create systems that foster this mindset. For example, transitioning all employees to freelance contracts, where compensation is tied to ad performance, and contract continuation depends on performance, could be an effective mechanism.

In this industry, it’s rare to meet people who share my views—perhaps two or three out of a thousand. However, I hope that more young professionals with this perspective will emerge and help revolutionize the industry!

Masaki “Mark” Iino
Founder & CEO