3 Ways Auto Brands are Leveraging Mobile-Only Creative

As the mobile screen officially takes center stage in consumers’ lives, it is also becoming one of the central touch points during the car-buying process as well. From vehicle pricing and model comparisons to content like photo galleries, ratings and owner reviews – it’s all being consumed on mobile. More than half (53%) of automotive shoppers using the internet for research are using a mobile device, and one-third of total shopping time is on mobile.

And it’s not just content they are engaging with: According to Edmunds.com, smartphone users are 2.5 times more likely to click on mobile ads than desktop promos. There is no better time for automotive brands to be reaching in-market consumers on their mobile device with unique advertisements that engage, delight, and, ultimately, convert them into buyers.

But what is the best way to do that? The first step for marketers is to consider that buying a car is both an aspirational and emotional event for most consumers. Because video is the best medium for conveying emotion – have you ever seen an award-winning, evocative ad that made your heart pound that wasn’t a video? – video is the clear winner when it comes to ad type choice.

High quality, well-executed video creative – like the TV commercials you might see during the Super Bowl, for instance – is certainly a compelling way to tell the brand story of an automobile and engage consumer emotions. With powerful auditory branding, a unique message, strong narrative flow and memorable characters, you can create quite a ‘moment’ for the consumer. But there is one element that TV commercials cannot have: touch.

This is where haptics come in. “Haptic feedback” is that vibration feeling from your phone when you tap one of the navigation buttons. It was first introduced and popularized on Android phones, but all smartphones now have a haptic engine, and now automotive brand advertisers are using that native feature on the phone to pull of some incredible tactile effects on their ad campaigns.

Peugeot, for instance, used haptics to simulate the feel of a car engine at certain points on a mobile video ad for its new 308 GTi – a campaign which was then nominated for three MOMA awards in 2016: Best Use of Technology, Most Innovative Use of Mobile, and Best Use of Video/Rich Media. And it’s not just an awards play: Brands that are using haptics are seeing increased metrics “beyond the tap,” namely positive sentiment and replay rates, as customers want to experience the ad over again. One automotive brand more than doubled their ad recall metrics by adding haptic effects.

Another creative trick that automotive brands are playing with is the tilt feature. The built-in gyroscope on mobile devices can sense when the device is being held a certain way, and automotive brands are using that to let users select different backgrounds on which to view the car. A core component of the Jeep brand, for example, is the versatility of its models to perform both in urban environments and in rural, or rugged, settings.

The quintessential Jeep driver is somewhat of a “weekend warrior,” a working professional who might live in a city but who spends the weekend exploring the countryside, taking off-road adventures to surf, ski, hike, and so on. Jeep’s mobile campaign for their 75th Anniversary Edition showed their new model on both of those backgrounds, depending on which way the phone was tilted. Other campaigns, like the one shown here, provides a similar experience.

These two tactics are great for generating awareness, driving engagement and building an emotional connection, but there is another key element that mobile creative can address: Trust. Buying a car is a major financial decision, and it requires more than just emotion. Automotive brands must build trust with the consumer up front; the best way to do that is to provide the detailed information that auto intenders are already seeking on their branded websites, which according to J.D. Power is model information (89%), vehicle pricing (88%) and photo galleries (81%).

With mobile video, you can do that right in the ad itself, without having to take an extra step. You can even include other important information such as safety features or technology components. How? With an expandable end card on a mobile video that allows the viewer to select which areas they would like to know more about. And, with new 360° technology that lets the user move their phone panoramically to get a more complete view of, say, the interior of the car, which they would not be able to experience unless they sat inside of it in real life. In this sense, mobile ads can provide a near-virtual-reality experience for the customer, which is highly compelling.

Automotive brands are truly on the leading edge of mobile video advertising, creating dynamic, immersive experiences that are not just drawing customers into the brand story, but creating important emotional ties and building levels of trust. It’s no wonder they’re seeing a lift in engagement metrics – and continuing to invest more in these types of campaigns in 2017.

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