I am used to seeing (outside of Japan) that, when a company wants to lead a potential customer to its website, it shows its web address on an advertisement. However, in Japan, in most cases, an advertisement does not show its web address, but instead suggests to do a web search using a particular keyword and access whatever it hits. Why is it like that? It looks strange to me, and since a web search is probabilistic, it could lead a customer to some other web page, or a customer may get lost, leading to a loss of potential customers. And in the first place, it requires an extra step. Is there any reason for this being done in Japan?
closed as off topic by Tsuyoshi Ito, istrasci, Dave M G, silvermaple, Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams May 12 '12 at 20:35
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I always thought this was due to a (perhaps misguided) marketing attitude that people find it easier to deal with the name of the company in kanji/kana and search for this, than remember the romanised equivalent used for the domain name (especially since there are various differing systems of romanisation). Sure, kanji/kana domain names are now possible, but unusual enough to not look like real domain names to many people (in my experience of using one).
Perhaps marketers also have a perception that people struggle to get the domain suffix right (out of .com, .jp, .co.jp etc). I believe this to be the case in the UK (my home country) also, where some advertisers are just starting to favour this method of directing people to their website. This seems to be based on the idea that domain names are confusing for some people, so plain search terms are more "user friendly".
So although it's one more step for the viewer to get to the website, they probably think it gives a higher overall chance of them finding the website. Although search results are probabilistic, I have never seen a case where the company in whose advert I saw the search term was not the top result. I believe many also purchase search-engine advertising to make sure they appear "above the fold" of the search results page in any event.
Although some of this is informally backed up from a conversation years ago with a web developer friend, obviously this answer is more conjecture than concrete facts, so please refute at will.