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Hitosara Achieves Success with Appier’s AI-Powered Customer Engagement Platform

Web push view rate reaches 19 times more users with AIQUA, lifting open rate by 36%

Tokyo, July 4 2019 USEN-NEXT GROUP of USEN Media Co., Ltd. (USEN Media) which operates a popular gourmet social media platform (Hitosara) is using Appier’s artificial intelligence (AI)-powered customer engagement platform AIQUA to boost its web push open rate. Hitosara has achieved the highest open rate of 36% (8-10% on average). In addition, Hitosara has been able to approach 19 times more users. 

Hitorsara features posts about chefs, attracting more than 100 million page views (PV) and 20 million unique users per month. Approximately 80% of the website users are above 30 years of age, have been contributing with building the website contents and are mostly upper middle “foodies”. Hitosara is recognized as a media platform with strong influence when it comes to people choosing restaurants. Hitosara differentiates itself from other gourmet websites by providing original information about the chefs, including pictures and recommendations from them such as seasonal and local food information.

The market for restaurant search services is highly competitive, and Hitosara has been working on measures such as a loyalty point system for members and push notifications via its app to improve engagement with users, particularly those who are highly aware of food trends.

The Product Manager of USEN Media explained the challenges before implementing AIQUA: “Although we have rich content only available on Hitosara, and which is written by experienced food writers, there was a lack of interest from website visitors and we were not maximizing our uniqueness. As the website visitors mainly use the website to make restaurant reservations, one of the challenges was to utilize content within the website that is related to the quality of the service. It was important to build continuous customer engagement by sharing our interesting articles with as many people as possible.”  While considering several options for improvement, the person in charge discovered AIQUA, a customer engagement platform that can help with audience analysis and segmentation using AI. 

Appier explained the key main benefits that Hitosara can expect by implementing AIQUA:

  1. The ability to use a combination of its own audience data, as well as Appier’s third party data. 
  2. With AI, Hitosara can segment users precisely and develop campaigns promptly for every segment type. 
  3. The ability to re-engage with users who are visiting websites outside Hitosara.

In addition to creating marketing content based on data such as number of website visits and logins, with AIQUA, clients are also able to use other audience information provided by Appier, making it possible to extract information such as user interests and preferences even before they visit the website for the first time. Based on this information, marketers can distribute effective messages to the right device at the right time. 

Hitosara officially implemented AIQUA in January 2019 and delivered web pushes approximately three times a week. By May, the PV for articles in Hitosara Magazine increased by a maximum of 65% and by 25% on average. In addition, the web push approach allowed Hitosara to reach non-registered users 19 times more of registered members.

Mr. Takafumi Nagasaki, manager of Product Marketing from USEN Media, commented: “The results achieved through AIQUA’s push notifications were extremely high and we have achieved the same level of performance as SNS advertising for Hitosara Magazine. The web push is not based on delivered volume and cost-benefit is extremely high. I was quite surprised with the high level of ROI we managed to achieve”

Appier ensured tight collaboration with the campaign management team and content team of USEN Media and used rich content provided by USEN Media, including images and video which were appropriate for different seasons. This helped in approaching microsegments and supported Hitosara in rapidly building user engagement. This is an effective solution for targeting users in their ‘consideration phase’, when they visit Hitosara’s website and make reservations after viewing the content or before they subscribe to the site.  

“I was able to see the improvement on PV from the first day of implementing AIQUA. Through delivering content- our key strength- on hot restaurants and trending food we attracted foodies who appreciate unique dining experiences,” said Mr. Nagasaki. “The implementation of the system and training took short amount of time, and I think the process for setting up message delivery to the appropriate target audience is very simple.”

“It is also possible to set the message delivery time to be triggered automatically. We used this feature to send out thank you messages by web push after receiving a booking, and we saw astonishing results including a 36% increase in the open rate. I can see the significance of high precision audience segmentation and personalized messages thanks to AIQUA’s AI. I am interested to see if it is possible to develop this same successful experience in other business area.”


AIQUA utilizes AI as well as its individual data to better understand the target audience and to create segmentation. It enables marketers to provide the most appropriate contents and offers for users who visit the website and keeps opportunity loss to a minimum. The hyper-personalized messages and offers can be delivered across multiple devices, improving users’ Lifetime Value (LTV). 

About USEN Media Co., Ltd.
USEN Media’s mission is to connect restaurants and people, and in addition to Hitosara, an gourmet media platform where photos of the chef are shared, it has also built online platforms in different areas such as “SAVOR JAPAN”, the gourmet website tailored towards foreigners visiting Japan; wedding media platform “Uekore”; Web Magazine “bangs” for finding stylists; and “Oishi Photo” , a photography service specifically for restaurants and cafes. USEN Media’s operation is not limited to the web, as it has also been active in developing other forms of media such as books and events.  

About Hitosara
Through highlighting information of the delicious “Sara” (dish) provided by “Hito” (chef), Hitosara engages a variety of food lovers  as ‘Japan’s largest gourmet social media platform’, providing information about more than 11,000 chefs, as well as recommendations from food connoisseurs and the chefs themselves including original content about seasonal ingredients, recent food trends, “restaurants recommended by chefs”  and introducing new ways to enjoy dining.


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