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The Development of Webtoon (2014 – 2022)

Naver Webtoon globalization

Because Naver owns and operates LINE – a famous mobile app with 460 million registered users at the time, Webtoons became LINE Webtoons which was launched in 2014 in the US. The goal of LINE Webtoons was to provide a variety of digital comics in English and to raise awareness of the Naver’s Webtoons brand all over the world. Y.G.Kwon, an analyst, said that Naver’s top aim would be to secure a large global audience base through webtoons. 

  Several months later, a mobile app for users was launched to access Webtoon’s content easily. Having to compete with a lot of opponents which were providing manga for free was one of the challenges for the firm. Notwithstanding that, the publishing firm was still on top and defeated its rivals. For example, Daum, one of its biggest rivals, launched its service in 2003 and currently publishes around 85 webtoons per day. Naver, on the other hand, was already producing 100 webtoons every day. How can the publisher reach a remarkable number like that?

We may thank their distinctive initiatives, such as the Profit Page Share Program and Challenge League, for this. When Naver debuted LINE Webtoons, it had a daily viewing of 6 million people.

Later, Naver debuted LINE Webtoon in the Indonesian, Thai, and Taiwan markets. Within a few months, the website attracted a lot of global visitors due to its unique and conveniently available material. The CEO said that Line’s Webtoon got a 71% growth in monthly active users after its globalization.

Another challenge for the publisher was to compensate content producers while also making the product available for free on an open platform. The publisher realized that they needed to support the creators more on the monetary side so the publisher started cooperating with Patreon into Webtoon.

Partnership with Patreon

In 2016, Naver established a relationship with Patreon. The publisher added two Patreon services into LINE Webtoons as part of this new relationship, allowing Webtoons readers to donate effortlessly. Furthermore, the publisher announced that creators who meet the following requirements will receive an additional $1,000:

  1. Make an update at least twice per month
  2. Own over 3k followers in all regions and have over 10k US page views per month.


  1. Have 5k+ subscribers in all regions and have 5k+ US page views a month

After the success of the collaboration, JunKoo Kim said that Patreon has refined the financial experience for creators like nothing else service before it and has built up a large network of self-supporting creators and loyal fans.

Content Partnerships

Besides collaborating with Patreon, the publisher also partnered with a number of other platforms and celebrities, including comics great Stan Lee and YouTube star Michelle Phan. Stan Lee supported finding the winners of content on and Ms.Phan’s works were allowed to share on the Webtoons platform. 

Since its global launching, it reached 18 million visitors in 2016 and this number surpassed the number of visitors in Korea due to trying different ways such as partnerships for sponsored content and advertising approaches. 

The speaker of Naver said that they succeeded in expanding webtoons globally although it was actually difficult for the publishers for 2 years. 

A lot of artists came from different counties such as Thailand, China, and Indonesia, writing over 600 comics with about 120 comic artists’ support through a competition in 2017. JunKoo Kim told that Webtoons was a newbie of digital content like Kpop idols and had potential in the market. 

English was available on the website and it could be seen that viewers may be interested in a variety of manhwas. Therefore, JunKoo Kim had the idea of making new films and series from comics or graphic novels. And content Studio N was debuted.

Content Studio N

In 2018, Naver founded Studio N which is the place making new Korean movies or series based on famous comics for the audiences.  The firm saw that technology was more advanced every day and they utilized Machine Learning and Artificial to improve content creation and translation. Kwon Mi-kyung, Former Head, told that Studio N would try its best to find the best way to adapt a webtoon’s unique story into movies and drama series.

Studio N interacted with a few media firms to make movies from the content of common comics. At the end of 2018, consumers’ trends turned to Connected TVs and that led to the company’s revenue from short movies being one of the main incomes. Therefore,Many Romance Manhwa tried to display its content on Netflix and CTV channels. JunKoo Kim shared that Naver Webtoons tried to raise its foothold in the global market. the platform contained nearly 600k amateurs and 1600 official cartoonists publishing works on the website. 

The primary income of Webtoons is from online marketing and merchandising goods. The company sometimes denies programmatic advertising but they began using header bidding in 2019 after seeing the advantages of the technology.

Programmatic Foray 

Naver Webtoon was partnering with Google AdSense and several other ad units while publishers with millions of visitors were already using the header bidding framework, Prebid, to monetize their traffic. With the launch in global markets, the publisher also searched for Prebid and decided to try it. 

The publisher interacted with a few of the top supply-side websites such as AppNexus, Rubicon, TripleLift, and OpenX and created header bidding on its website at the same time within a year. To Webtoons, just displays the only ad on a page at a time unlike other publishers because the user experience is more important. 

We have to wait for how programmatic is effective on Naver’s income because Webtoons is a quite new entry to programmatic. For now, Naver’s Webtoons is a strong giant that will expand in the future. In 2020, the CEO of Naver Webtoon forecasts sales to increase by 47%, reaching 1.03 trillion won (US$84 billion).


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