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Toyota Begins Microsite, Ad Tie-in With eBay

Looking to reach consumers on the Internet, Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. struck a deal with eBay Inc. to run banners and text links as well as open an online destination on the world's largest auction site.

A new microsite at http://ebay.toyota.com will display new Toyota models, linking to items listed on eBay and special offers. The Japanese-owned automaker also will run banners and rich media advertisements on the eBay.com and eBay Motors sites.

“We know from our research that about half of the people that are listing a car for sale on eBay are going to be in the market for a new vehicle, so we have access to this very large community of people who are in the market for a new vehicle,” said Mark Simmons, national advertising manager for media strategy at Toyota, Torrance, CA.

EBay Motors is widely acclaimed as the largest online marketplace for buying and selling cars. In 2002, more than $3 billion worth of cars and parts sold through the site.

As part of the deal, Toyota initially will showcase its Tundra Double Cab pickup truck and Solara sedan and convertible models. It also will display vehicle details and dealer information on its regular lineup, linking to the main Toyota site for U.S. sales.

The banners and rich media ads for Toyota vehicles will run where a good fit exists between company and listed products. For example, an ad for a family-type car may run on eBay pages listing baby furniture auctions.

In addition to its commercial objectives, the automaker in March begins donating vehicles for charity auctions on eBay.

Toyota's 47-year-old U.S. arm markets and sells car brands like Toyota, Lexus and Scion through a network of 1,415 dealers in 49 states. It is the nation's fourth-largest automaker, while its parent company is the world's No. 2 car company.

Interactive agency Jumpstart Digital Marketing and Toyota shop Saatchi & Saatchi put the deal together.

Toyota's relationship with eBay will last a year. With that, Toyota becomes the exclusive automaker sponsor on eBay, which marks the first such deal for the San Jose, CA-based auction site.

Third-party ad revenue still forms a small fraction of eBay's overall core competence. But its new strategic partnerships unit, formed in mid-2003, is knitting alliances with marketers keen to reach eBay's audiences of bidders and sellers.

EBay calls this partnership process auction marketing, and Toyota is the latest in its attempts to extract more value from its audience.

“While there have been other auto manufacturer advertisers on eBay, this deal with Toyota is much more comprehensive and unique,” eBay spokeswoman Jennifer Chu Caukin said. “We have essentially customized this program for Toyota to promote their new vehicles to eBay's community of 95 million registered users.”

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