The toolbar, made by technology-development company Viewpoint, enables users to search the Web and get results that appear as graphics instead of text. The Scion brand is visible at all times on the toolbar, so every time users look at their desktops, they see the brand. The technology is known as a "skin"-it allows the marketer to thoroughly brand an application.
"People do a massive amount of searching on a daily basis," said Jay Amato, CEO, Viewpoint. "So if someone sees a persistent image like the Scion every time they do a search, it gives us a great opportunity to make an impression."
Making an impression
In Scion's case, Toyota wants to make an impression with users who have qualified themselves as potential buyers by going to the tC site-wanttc.com-and downloaded the toolbar. Generation Y men-ages 18 to 25 are Scion's target. A tab on the toolbar also takes them directly to the tC site.
Many toolbars are on the market competing for branding space on the desktop, said Joseph Jaffe, president and founder of marketing consultancy Jaffe LLC. "There's a finite amount of space on every desktop," Mr. Jaffe said, who has downloaded five toolbars, but only uses Google's. "But as a marketer, if you can get consumers to download your toolbar, the proposition of being able to message through a toolbar is very powerful-because the consumer has elected to receive this ongoing dialogue."Along with the Google toolbar, others producing toolbars are MSN, Lycos Hotbot, Hotbar, Yahoo, Alexa, Altavista, Dogpile, Askjeeves, Amazon and WhenU. Another toolbar for advertisers is United Virtualities' Ouqa Ouqa. It acts as a skin over the browser and embeds itself in the browser and can appear, for example, like the dashboard of a car for auto makers.
Scion is happy with results so far. Wanttc.com opened its virtual doors to 100,000 visitors in June, according to Adrian Si, Scion's interactive marketing manager. Some 10,000 visited the download page, and about 1,400 downloaded the tool. They spend an average of 10 minutes on scion.com.
There are 3,000 registered users on the site. Scion is not able to track conversion to sales.
"For Scion, because brand awareness is very important for us-50% of the population is aware of us and 50% is not-this helps us brand better because people put it up on their browser and their friends come over and see it and it creates word of mouth," Mr. Si said.
High response rates aren't as important as reaching the right young man in the right way, he said. "We're all about the consumer deciding what they're interested in. We don't want to shove it down their throat."
The site includes information geared to pique a visitor's interest about the car. Those who are motivated to buy can click through to scion.com where they can build a customized vehicle by choosing from among 40 different accessories. They can virtually open the doors, the trunk or the hood and change views from interior to exterior, or even the undercarriage. Then, they can mail their customized model to a local dealer listed on the site. Consumers who register on the site can key in their e-mail and receive alerts so Scion can notify them about events related to the car. There have been 20,000 page views for the dealer locator.
"You used to have competitive thinking outside the box, now you have competitive thinking outside the browser," Mr. Jaffe said.