Toyota Finds Data-Driven ‘Vantage’ for RAV4 – Broadcasting & Cable

Posted: Monday, March 27, 2017

For Toyota and its ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, data-driven advanced advertising is not just a bunch of buzzwords. The automaker used Viacom Vantage to help launch its new small SUV, the RAV4, and said the result was 100% higher than it would have gotten using more traditional media buying techniques.

Viacom is one of the three members of the OpenAP consortium looking to standardize and measure audience buying-based targets determined by data. Viacom, along with Time Warner Inc.’s Turner and 21st Century Fox’s Fox Networks Group, announced OpenAP earlier this month and will provide additional details April 7.

“This is fantastic; I applaud them,” Saatchi executive communications director John Lisko said of the agreement, which he said will make it easier for the industry to get comfortable with basing campaigns on targeted audiences instead of using the traditional age and sex demographics as the yardstick for gauging the reach and cost of ad campaigns.

Toyota has been working with Vantage since Viacom set up the product in 2014. “They have always leaned in and been willing to innovate with us,” Karen Phillips, executive vice president for marketing and partner solutions at Viacom, said.

Toyota was one of the first clients to collaborate with Viacom on a cross-platform custom content campaign, with integrations into MTV programming and the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. The two companies also worked together on SpongeBob SquarePants-themed vehicles.

The automaker was one of at least 30 companies that incorporated Vantage into its upfront deals with Viacom a year ago.

Toyota’s culture drives it to test new platforms that will let it put the right message in front of the right consumers, Lisko said. It had been easier to find that in digital until Vantage showed up in the linear TV space. “We said sign us up for this because this is what we’ve been looking for,” he recalled.

Saatchi handles creative and media planning for Toyota. Zenith negotiates and buys national media. Saatchi and Zenith are both part of Publicis.


Launching the new RAV4 was important for Toyota. The small SUV was the fastest-growing segment in the business, and Toyota was first with a hybrid option. “There were high stakes with this,” Lisko said.

Toyota does its own qualitative research for each product it launches and combines that with syndicated data. For the RAV4, the research identified the consumers it was looking for as “active young couples with aspirations and dreams, people with a thirst for adventure,” according to Lisko.

“These are people with an active lifestyle; they’re not couch potatoes,” he added. In terms of media consumption, “these are people that have a big thirst for knowledge. They’re consuming all forms of media. They’re comfortable with social media and the recommendations from people they consider friends or acquaintances or people that they follow online.”

The research was brought to the Vantage team at Viacom. “What we saw was a team over there that was doing very sophisticated work in understanding their consumer far beyond demography,” said Bryson Gordon, executive vice president of data strategy at Viacom Vantage.

With Toyota and Saatchi creating a custom segment, the Vantage team used its data platform to activate the campaign.

“Instead of looking at TV in the traditional broad demography sense we can look at TV specifically through the lens of the audience that Zenith and Saatchi are trying to reach for their client,” Gordon said. “And then we can fundamentally optimize ad placement based on that. And that’s what we were able to achieve with this campaign, with some pretty good success.”

Picking appropriate shows was a joint effort among Vantage, which knew the most about its shows’ audience compositions, and Saatchi and Zenith, which had a deep understanding of the consumer segment. Vantage found spots with a high concentration of potential customers and the agency staffers went over the spots to see if each one would put the Toyota message in the right environment thematically. The schedule would again get optimized and checked once more.

“This is a high touch level of involvement,” Lisko said. “While there’s speculation in the industry that technology and data will replace the role of people in the industry, this just proves, a computer and a model can’t necessarily make those same subjective decisions about the environment.”

Shows used in the campaign included The Daily Show With Trevor Noah on Comedy Central, as well as shows on CMT, MTV and Spike. Nickelodeon was also an important, but less obvious part of the mix.


The RAV4 campaign was optimized for in-target impression lift, which tells advertusers how many more people in the target audience were delivered by the Vantage schedule compared to a more traditional schedule built using demographic ratings.

“In this campaign in particular, we saw nearly 100% lift in the concentration for in-target impressions, which was a really strong result for the campaign,” Gordon said.

Vantage looked at other metrics as well. There were double-digit lifts in awareness, favorability, purchase intent and recommendation likelihood using the custom target.

Vantage also used mobile geolocation data to look at where there was a lift in physical visitors to Toyota dealerships among people who saw the ad vs. those who didn’t see the ad.

“We saw a 32% lift there,” Gordon said. “It’s a good indicator that can give you insight in terms of how well the targeting is working, how well the campaign is working to drive an outcome.”

It worked for the agency was well. “You put the right programming with the right messaging, you’re going to see a lift,” Lisko said. “It’s just that simple.”


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