Southern California Toyota Dealers Try Interactive Ads

New technology allows viewers to personalize their ad experiences.

Steve Finlay, Senior Editor

November 3, 2023

3 Min Read
Dealers will gauge the ads’ effectiveness by tracking viewers’ clicks and other data.Getty Images

A California car dealer organization is trying interactive digital advertising to tout Toyota’s new battery-electric vehicle.

The Southern California Toyota Dealers Assn. features the bZ4X EV in two video spots currently airing. Ad agency Davis Elen created them using technology provided by digital media company PadSquad, which, in turn, acquired the technology from Source Digital.

The product, VidStream+, is poised to change viewing habits by letting viewers explore as they watch, Lance Wolder, PadSquad’s head of strategy and marketing, tells Wards.

Here’s how it works:

As the video ad starts to play, visual elements denoting particular features appear at the top of or aside it. When a viewer clicks one of those, the video pauses and the consumer can delve into specific product information. The scrollable pop-up panels in the Toyota EV spots include topics such as vehicle performance, exterior, interior, technology and charging. Panels can even include videos within the video.

When the viewer exits a pop-up panel, the video resumes.

What risk is there of disrupting the message of the overall ad?

“That’s something we talked about a lot,” Wolder says. “There is a time and a place. Too much information and visuals can take away from the message that is trying to be delivered.”

The dealer clients are impressed with the novelty of it all.

“We view this innovative ad execution as an opportunity to drive meaningful change for how we market to modern consumers,” says dealers association President Doug Eroh.

When the ad agency showed the trade group the new ad format, “We jumped at the opportunity to join this first-ever campaign activation,” he adds.

Most people think of watching video ads as a passive experience, Wolder says. “This product aims to change people’s viewing habits by letting them explore an advertised brand without exiting the ad or navigating away from the content they came to watch.”

Technology can track both how much time viewers spent with the video and its pop-up elements. It’s a far cry from earlier digital advertising.

“Mobile and computer tablet ads of a decade ago “were really crummy experiences” in a format designed for desktops, Wolder says. “The ads were kind of clunky.”

PadSquad CEO Daniel Meehan says, “We are poised to break the creative norms that are holding back the full potential of advertisements across mobile, desktop and connected TV.”

Is the point of the interactive ad to get people interested in a brand, or is it a call-to-action to buy?

“It can be for anything,” Wolder says. “But historically, online video has focused a lot on brand awareness. Interactive digital is bringing video to a whole other place for brands.”

Wolder describes Davis Elen, the ad agency that worked with the California dealer association on the VidStream+ spots, as an industry trendsetter.

“It’s an agency that always asks for first-to-market opportunities to pitch to their clients,” Wolder says.

The California Toyota dealer group was sold after seeing the demonstration, he says. “They are a fantastic partner.”

It’s too early yet to clearly define strong demographic patterns.

“We’re getting indicators at this point,” Wolder says. “But the age demographics are much broader than we thought they’d be. We had thought for sure it would be primarily young people.”


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