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We’ve all heard horror stories of personalised ads gone wrong. Whether it’s untimely engagement ring pop-ups or Target’s infamous teenage pregnancy debacle, the use of data mining can sometimes leave marketers flailing in uncanny valley. But it can also play out well – research suggests that being flattered by a targeted ad may make us more likely to spend. And it’s why Toyota made 100,000 versions of one of its campaigns.

Teaming up with Saatchi & Saatchi LA, Toyota used data from Facebook to create customised ads for the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. “Everybody is unique, so why tell everybody the exact same thing?” says Chris Pierantozzi, imaginative director at Saachi & Saachi LA. “Personalising material is essential to creating marketing that people react to, and there’s no social platform that comprehends customers much better than Facebook.”

Why make one ad when you could create 100,000?
Toyota USA (2016) ©

Toyota assessed key information from people’s profiles – like which pages they’ve liked – and crafted the most appropriate ad out of 100 interchangeable video clips. For example, if you liked Playstation on Facebook, you might receive the message; ‘You’re stylish and tech-savvy, just like the all new RAV4 Hybrid.

Data mining is enabling brands to peer into the habits and minds of consumers more than ever; eBay is able to tell what kind of mood shoppers are in, and even what stage in life they’re at, in order to offer products accordingly. But Toyota is playing into people’s desire to have their individualism acknowledged on a more tangible level. With customised ads, the brand is able to imply that the product that follows will maintain this commitment – ideal, given that people give a 50% higher net promoter score to personalised goods. Whether Facebook likes are the best way to determine who a person really is, however, remains to be seen.

Discover more insights like this by signing up to the Canvas8 Library.

Mira Kopolovic is a writer and researcher, with an MA in creative industries, which focused on artist-brand collaborations. She spends her spare time poring over dystopian literature.

Hannah Callaghan is an account executive at Canvas8. When she’s not helping clients navigate the deepest layers of the Canvas8 Library, she’s probably binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race or befriending other people’s dogs.

14 Nov 16
2 min read

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