Client – Toyota

Markets – UK

Timing – March 2014 – March 2015

Agencies/Vendors – ZenithOptimedia

Tech Word Cloud – Programmatic, technology stack, targeting, personalization, lead generation

Toyota developed a bespoke “stack storytelling” campaign for consumers in their target audience with the goal of converting them from hybrid skeptics to advocates.


Toyota knew that hybrid cars had a bit of an image problem. Despite the several environmental benefits of driving a hybrid, consumers remained skeptical. Toyota’s challenge was to build compelling, bespoke stories for people, cross-platform, to break down the myths and resistance to change.


In order to convert hybrid skeptics to advocates, Toyota create the online equivalent of a role-play adventure. They build tailored stories for their consumers, determined by their own personal journeys. To do this seamlessly, they needed a single view of the consumer. By building a unified technology stack from Google components like DBM, DCM, Invite, and Adwords, they were able to track a single user across web properties and, most importantly, serve them the right message at the right time using targeting fueled by 1st and 3rd party data.


The storytelling journey began with a YouTube Masthead that reached six million people and enabled the identification of those who had seen the first copy. If they didn’t click, they were segmented into a separate targeting segment and were shown the subsequent two Hybrid Simple Truth videos elsewhere across Google’s platforms. Engagement led to a dedicated Hybrid environment where they could view the subsequent videos, read more about the technology, or take several other actions. Users who didn’t take any action were retargeted with the offer-led, tactical creative. Paid search also supported the campaign, ensuring full coverage of hybrid-related search queries, retargeting exposed users with a compelling sequential message.


The Google technology stack enabled bespoke stories to be created seamlessly, across platform. Toyota’s agency, ZenithOptimedia, developed the campaign strategy and optimization, working closely with Google, YouTube, and Doubleclick to achieve a deeper level of sophistication through advanced targeting. The technique paid off with much stronger engagement than previous campaigns because the advertising was relevant to each consumer.


Toyota’s initial KPIs were to drive cost effective CPAs for “hot contacts” (users who requested a test drive, brochure, car configuration, or a dealer), which came down by 58%. The videos received a 22% VTR, a 25% increase on the 16% YouTube benchmark. Toyota moved Hybrid sales on to 37% of the mix, well on the way to hitting 50% by 2017. In a partnership with Boston Consulting Group, they demonstrated the effectiveness of “stack storytelling,” showing how exposure to a series of messaging increases consumers’ likelihood of engaging with a campaign.