TOYOTA WANTS A TRAFFIC JAM

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Toyota is driving onto the World Wide Web in September with the intent of steering consumers to its online showroom even when they're not shopping for a car.

To encourage repeat visits, Toyota Motor Sales USA will regularly update information on its site and include non-automotive features appealing to a range of interests.

"What we are trying to do is provide other content that's interesting, that will bring people back. It's kind of like Toyota's a publishing company," said Drew Sievers, account supervisor at Toyota agency Saatchi & Saatchi DFS Pacific, Torrance, Calif.

Saatchi is providing creative input, but the Web site is being developed by Novo Media Group, San Francisco.

"We've gotten advertisers to understand that they need to bring people to where they are, not depend on publishers," said Kelly Anthony Rodriques, Novo CEO-publisher.

A preliminary screen from the Web site shows links to information about Toyota cars and trucks, a dealer locator and an offer for a free CD-ROM.

Consumers will be able to use the site to communicate directly with dealers. Toyota, the No. 1 selling import-car marketer, will experiment with that feature this fall with the hope of expanding it over time.

James Pisz, Toyota national direct response manager, envisions the Internet being the center of Toyota's interactive marketing program once issues like ease of use and transaction security are worked out.

"The user interface has to become so simple that the average car buyer can get on the Internet," Mr. Pisz said. "It's not like that right now."

Toyota, one of the car industry's most aggressive users of interactive marketing techniques, already has a presence on America Online and Prodigy, and will expand to CompuServe in July.

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