Closing the Distance Between Users and Businesses on LINE and
Providing Advanced Advertising Features to
Match Users and Businesses in a More Timely and Relevant Manner
Tokyo, Japan – March 24, 2016 – LINE Corporation announced the strategic opening of the business platform on its communication app, LINE, at "LINE Conference Tokyo 2016" today.
As part of its corporate mission, "Closing the Distance," LINE will be opening its platform in order to close the distance between users and businesses and services, as well as forge stronger ties. This will help shape a future in which users can take advantage of LINE and other companies' services even more conveniently, easily, and enjoyably.
1) Expanding LINE Account Features
LINE released three new features today to further enhance the convenience of LINE accounts leading up to the opening of the Business Platform.
1. Reward Cards
LINE Reward Cards is a feature that replaces point and stamp cards that take up space and tend to be left behind at home and expire before they are filled up. Users can collect points or stamps at their favorite stores using the LINE app, and easily exchange them for rewards. Today, new pages allowing users to view a list of all their cards and find stores that issue reward cards were released, allowing users to find cards in their vicinity or effortlessly search for cards by store name.
Available in: Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand
2. Coupon Book
Coupon Book allows users to manage coupons issued by various companies and stores within the LINE app. Besides coupons distributed by accounts they have friended, nearby and popular coupons, as well as personalized recommendations are also displayed. Coupons expiring sooner are displayed first, making the information more timely and attractive. Users can also save coupons in their favorites, making it easier to find them when they want to use them. The Coupon Book official account also sends users expiration reminders for favorited coupons.
A new online store feature will be added to LINE@ accounts with no monthly or system usage fees and only a service charge of 4.98% for sales made. As users are not required to log in or create accounts to make purchases, a higher purchase rate than conventional e-commerce websites can be anticipated. Account owners can also add products only available to LINE@ friends, providing opportunity and incentive for users to add their LINE@ accounts as friends.
Available in: Japan
2) Opening of LINE Business Platform
2a. For Web Services
LINE has taken the platform used for its own LINE NEWS, LINE LIVE, and LINE Part Time Jobs services, and has tuned and strengthened it for open use by operators of web services referred to as Official Web Apps.
Official Web Apps
Official Web Apps are web services linked with LINE accounts, making these accounts a channel to gain new users, redirect users to perform specific actions, and increase repeaters seamlessly within the LINE app.
Users, on the other hand, enjoy easy and quick access to various services within the LINE app, without having to install other apps or sign up for other services. More specifically, the Auto Login feature allows users to skip the signup process simply by friending the relevant LINE account and agreeing to use LINE Login. With the Profile+ feature, users can also choose to automatically populate reservation, purchase, and inquiry forms with selected personal information saved on LINE.* The more they use Official Web Apps, the easier it is for users to receive personalized information and services through LINE. They can also accumulate points using LINE Points and Reward Cards.
*Personal information such as real names and addresses will not be used or provided without consent from users.
Partners can connect LINE Business Connect (a service for corporate clients that provides an API allowing access to various LINE account features), Auto Login, Profile+, and LINE Pay to their services in order to increase conversion rates, such as by sending personalized push messages linking to hassle-free reservations and purchases. These services can also be used in conjunction with LINE Points and Reward Cards to increase user conversion and repeater rates. Official accounts that utilize these features to increase convenience and merit for users and fulfill a certain set of criteria are recognized as Official Web Apps, gaining them exposure on the More tab in LINE and placing them at the top of the official accounts list and in-app search results as recommended services and increasing user recognition.
Official Web App features will be available to all existing official account customers and subscribers to the new JPY 20,000 (excluding tax) monthly plan set to launch this summer. This new plans allows up to 100,000 friends and unlimited messages using the API.
LINE has started approaching a number of companies, and as of today over 40 companies in a wide range of sectors have expressed their intention or interest in becoming Official Web Apps. A release is expected in summer 2016.
45 Companies Expected to Launch Official Web Apps (As of March 24)
@cosme, Ikyu.com, Tabelog, Demae-Can, Rikunabi 2018, Goo-net, At Home, Oisix, ANAP, Adastria, DHOLIC, LOHACO, LOCONDO, airCloset, Domino's Pizza, en-japan, Shop Japan, haco!, BUYMA, TripAdvisor, American Eagle Outfitters, OLIVE des OLIVE, SHOPLIST, Retty, Hitosara, Pocket Concierge, EPARK, KamiMado, relux, Career+, Hatarako.net, bento.jp, LANAREY, THEATRE PRODUCTS, Million Carats, Sow Experience, ESPERANZA, Golf Digest Online, CaSy, ORIGINAL STITCH, Makuake, ENj!NE, akippa, Nokisaki Parking, asoview!
LINE is currently seeking partner corporations interested in launching Official Web Apps. For more details, please contact a sales representative on the following website.
2b. For SME Aggregators
LINE is also implementing an SME Partnership Program, through which LINE@ business account communication features can be incorporated and utilized by small and medium-sized enterprises such as restaurants and retail shops. Commencing this summer, a total of 14 small and medium-sized companies including top players in their respective industries such as Tabelog for restaurants, Hot Pepper Beauty for beautification and hair care, Demae-Can for food delivery, HOME'S for real estate, and Goo-net for cars, will be joining. Through this program, a large number of SME's will be able to promote communication with LINE users more easily and conveniently.
SME Partnership Program
The SME Partnership Program aims to close the distance between users and stores. Businesses providing web services targeted at stores will be certified as SME partners, and LINE will prioritized service implementation to these certified partners.
Three services will be provided in collaboration with SME partners in order to facilitate communication between LINE users and businesses.
1. Inquiries on LINE: Promoting the adoption of a LINE@-based chat system for user-business communication
2. LINE@ integration: Promoting the development and integration of LINE@'s messaging API with the SME partners' in-house systems
3. Account plug-ins: Promoting the development and integration of SME partner content and corporate solutions with LINE's account plug-ins and content
These initiatives may lead to a future in which users can check for waiting times and table availability, as well as make reservations at restaurants, get access to exclusive coupons and limited-time sales from their favorite stores, and inquire about the apartment or used car of their dreams all from within LINE. In addition, they may also be able to receive coupons just at the right time for their next visit to the hairstylist's, nail salon, or spa based on their previous activity.
Stores can get more reservations and sales through the various services available to SME partners using their LINE@ accounts.
14 SME Partners (As of March 24)
Hot Pepper Beauty, Tabelog, Demae-can, At Home, CHINTAI, HOME'S, Goo-net, shufoo, reservia, EPARK, TORETA, ebica, Pocket Concierge, Career+
LINE is currently seeking partner corporations interested in becoming SME partners. For more details, please contact a sales representative on the following website.
Starting in April 2016, LINE will be opening up its platform to enable external partner companies to develop plug-ins to incorporate additional functionality into official LINE accounts, similarly to Reward Cards, Coupon Book, and Commerce.
2c. For Developers
LINE's messaging API will be made freely available in order to deepen real-time communication between clients and their customers. The BOT API free trial will be made available to 10,000 people on a first-come-first-served basis this April, together with LINE Beacon, connecting physical businesses with potential customers in the area. LINE also plans to further develop its proprietary Chat AI Plug-in together with third party developers, to provide business accounts with an intelligent and responsive tool for handling customer inquiries through chat messaging.
LINE Beacon enables the reception of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) data via LINE.
For example, stores may set up beacons so users can receive coupons and product information via LINE when they visit.
This will be launched in May in collaboration with Start Today Co., Ltd, and more partner companies are expected to join in.
LINE BOT API
A messaging API kit will be released in summer 2016, allowing the exchange of messages using LINE@'s messaging API. Through this, anyone will be able to develop CRM systems linked with IoT or existing systems.
Before its official launch, BOT API trial accounts will be available in April 2016 with limited functionality.
Chat AI Plug-in
LINE also plans to further develop its proprietary Chat AI Plug-in together with third party developers, to provide business accounts with an intelligent and responsive tool for handling customer inquiries through chat messaging. This is expected to be rolled out by the end of the year.
Based on preset FAQ and other content, or individual chats between businesses and their customers, the plug-in can provide users with information about recommended products, or answer inquiries accurately, reducing the cost of engaging human operators. This opens up the potential of LINE official accounts as an effective CRM and marketing tool.
LINE is currently seeking partner corporations interested in employing LINE Beacon, the BOT API, and the Chat AI Plug-in. For more details, please contact a sales representative on the following website.
3)Expansion and Opening of LINE Advertisement Distribution Platform
Together with the opening of LINE's business platform, LINE's ad distribution platform will be expanded beyond its previous one-way mass delivery systems appropriate for only larger businesses, to deliver more relevant and personal advertisements to suit any business size.
LINE will continue to capitalize on its wide reach of over 68 million Japanese users, while automatically extrapolating user demographics* based on their activity in LINE family apps, such as LINE NEWS, LINE MUSIC, and LINE Manga, their engagement with brand and celebrity official accounts, and their sticker purchase history. This information and users' areas of interest can be effectively utilized to create advertisements highly relevant to both to the user and business involved.
*Sensitive information such as phone numbers, email address, contacts, and chat messages are not included.
*These demographics are extrapolated statistically and do not identify individual users. LINE does not provide personally identifiable information to third parties, including advertisers.
Optimized Advertisements With M.T.Burn
Optimized advertisements based on demographics and areas of interest have been conducted as a trial run on LINE's Timeline since December 2015 in collaboration with M.T.Burn, and these advertisements been extremely well-received. In response, LINE will be transitioning to an advertisement distribution system based on Hike, a smartphone native advertisement platform owned by its consolidated subsidiary, M.T.Burn Inc, to begin releasing optimized Timeline advertisements based on more detailed demographics and areas of interest starting June 2016.
Additionally, LINE will be incrementally introducing new advertising locations in its More tab, LINE NEWS, and LINE Games services.
Creators' Stickers for Business
To date, LINE's stickers, including Sponsored and Direct Stickers, have mainly been a promotional tool for large corporations. To make it easier for restaurants, stores, and other SMEs to offer stickers, a new SME Stickers service will be launched before the end of 2016. The "Creators' Stickers for Business" program, in which small and medium-sized businesses will be able to purchase the right to distribute promotional stickers as rewards for service purchases or related incentives via the LINE Creators Market platform, now joins LINE's sticker portfolio.
The program will provide sticker creators with another opportunity for revenue growth, and businesses can promote their characters at lower cost.
LINE will continue to strive to become a one-stop solution for all B2C communication, and provide users with convenient, simple, and enjoyable access to various corporate services.
Details about the price plans available for the services and features laid out in this press release will be announced once they are available.