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Automakers jump ahead in mobile advertising as innovator, enabler

Toyota

Toyota's new campaign

While various industries are trying to crack the nut on mobile advertising, automakers are taking the goal more seriously than some by not only innovating how they engage with their own customers, but also by enabling creative outreach for other marketers interested in targeting car owners.

Automotive brands are among the most innovative mobile advertisers when it comes to reaching beyond the standard banner with rich media, audio and location integration. At the same time, with more connected car experiences popping up, reaching consumers via mobile inside their cars is one of most exciting new areas of marketing right now.

“The increased connectivity within vehicles – such as mobile, voice-activated systems, touchscreen and Bluetooth – has significantly changed the consumer experience and offers advertisers new and exciting ways to interact with their audience,” said Mollie Spilman, executive vice president of global sales and marketing at Millennial Media, Baltimore, MD.

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“Mobile advertising offers a similar advantage, and its on-the-go nature parallels the automotive experience,” she said.

Drive on mobile
Automakers have long been a top vertical in mobile advertising in terms of budget spend.

The difference now is that many of these brands are breaking out of basic banner ads with campaigns that leverage more native and engaging tactics.

Take Toyota, for instance.

The car giant is pushing its Corolla compact car line with voice-activated banner ads. Toyota is promoting the 2014 model, which includes in-car voice recognition.

When consumers click on a banner ad, the creative expands to a full page and the ad begins telling consumers about the features in the car. The ad then walks consumers through all the parts of the connected car experience.

The ad is also customized to users.

For example, the voice-over in the ad prompts consumers to pick from three different options to learn more about the car. 

The ad then can serve up several different pieces of information.


Toyota's new ad

Although Toyota is not the first marketer to leverage voice-activated ads, the new ad campaign does highlight the significant testing that automakers are taking to drive sales leads and foot traffic to dealerships.

Automakers are also a group of advertisers that are most heavily playing up 360-degree views, rich media and other tactics that drive engagement.

For example, Chrysler’s Jeep recently leveraged a new type of pull-down mobile ad unit to show off its 2014 My Cherokee car (see story). 

Similarly, Ford took advantage of a CAPTCHA alternative in November with an ad that let consumers drag a car across a map or pack up a vehicle (see story). 

“Automakers are continuously moving the needle when it comes to using technology to simplify and personalize their consumers' daily lives,” said Alexis Berger, Chicago-based vice president of Midwest sales and corporate marketing at Kargo.

“In both product technology and advertising, automakers are using real-time data to simplify and contextualize a user's online and offline brand experiences.”

At the same time that many automakers are testing new formats of mobile advertising, more brands are also rolling out their own in-car and in-dashboard experiences, giving marketers a new way to target consumers within a specific demographic.

For example, Ford or Chevrolet could potentially sell Dunkin' Donuts in an in-car audio ad, which would play while commuters were on their way to work in the morning.

CPG, retail also step up
In addition to automakers, marketers agree that consumer packaged goods, quick-serve restaurants and retail are three other areas to watch this year with mobile advertising.

The growth in more sophisticated forms of data are part of the reason why more CPG brands are just now embracing mobile.

According to a recent report from Mediamind, CPG brands are already leveraging mobile effectively by focusing on engagement rather than hard conversions (see story).


Tic Tac taps rich media, built by Kargo

The next phase for CPG marketers will be turning this engagement into more targeted ads that pack behavioral and purchase data into an ad unit.

Last year, CPG brands started to focus more on incorporating more hyperlocal targeting into ad campaigns. In 2014, marketers can expect to see more of this type of work that hopefully scale.

“We are at a point where we can harness mobile data at scale in order to leverage it well beyond the smartphone screen,” said Jennifer Cox, director of mobile at Starcom USA, Chicago.

“Combining granular data available through mobile devices like when and where a consumer shops, the path a shopper takes in-store, and what TV programs they watch and/or engage socially [with] can now create a more effective, holistic experience that follows a consumer from couch to car to store,” she said.

Additionally, more brands will tie short pieces of mobile video into their campaigns.

“We are expecting big things from CPG advertisers this year,” said Hannah Magee, senior vice president of sales at Opera Mediaworks’ Mobile Theory, San Mateo, CA.

“Historically they've just dipped their toes in the mobile space, but given the surge of time spent in the core demographic, especially in video, we anticipate CPG activity to really explode in 2014,” she said.

Retailers also have a tremendous opportunity to break out of basic banner ads this year with ads that target specific offers and products based on a consumer’s browsing habits and location.

For example, swipable galleries and ads that pull inventory into an ad unit will be a focus for retailers this year.

When it comes to location, no other vertical does it better than quick-serve restaurants, and fast foods giants are expected to take their mobile advertising campaigns up a notch further in 2014 with better segmented and hyperlocal data.

“Retail and QSR will continue to push the envelope in mobile advertising as they have in years past with new formats and mediums, paving the way for slower-to-adopt categories such as pharma,” said Anthony Iacovone, CEO/founder of AdTheorent, New York.

“Throughout 2013 we saw a willingness from our clients to try new ad formats and take advantage of the hyper-local nature of mobile devices,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York

Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer. Reach her at lauren@mobilemarketer.com.

 
Related content: Advertising, mobile, mobile marketing, Mollie Spilman, Millennial Media, automakers, Alexis Berger, Kargo, Jennifer Cox, Starcom USA, Hannah Magee, Mobile Theory, Anthony Iacovone, AdTheorent

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