Volkswagen propels repeat mobile app usage via social, location-based technology
March 8, 2013
Volkswagen is partnering with Google on a new mobile application and Web experience that incorporates social media and location to let users track and share their road trips.
The app is the first campaign to be launched from Google’s new Art, Copy & Code project, which helps brands use multiple channels to connect with consumers. Volkswagen's “Smileage” campaign builds on themes of the automaker’s 2012 “It’s not the miles, it’s how you live them” campaign.
“Brands are increasingly using a range of channels to connect with their customers,” said Andrea Faville, spokeswoman for Google, Mountain View, CA.
“The Art, Copy & Code project aims to experiment across all of these,” she said.
“For this particular partnership, we were looking to highlight mobile and social products, a core part of Google’s offering to brands. In this case, all drivers – not just Volkswagen owners – can use Volkswagen Smileage to make their drives social and fun. This allows Volkswagen to engage all drivers on a daily basis with a little piece of Volkswagen brand in their hands.”
Last year, Google launched a mobile advertising initiative called Project Re: Brief that was aimed at reimagining classic ad campaigns from brands including Coca-Cola, Alka-Seltzer and Volvo with interactive elements (see story).
Google’s new Art, Copy & Code project builds on Project Re: Brief, but is positioned to blend content and advertising into current advertising campaigns from brands.
Volkswagen will develop an Android app that syncs with a car and social media to let users track their travel experiences. Using location, weather, social interactions, time of day and traffic, the app will record a user’s travel.
The app will be powered by Google+ and will combine content that users post to the social media site across multiple screens.
Consumers can choose to use the app in either passive or active mode. Both modes allow the app to run in the background so that it does not interfere with driving.
A trip mode can also be enabled in the app, which lets users post content such as photos and videos in real-time to create a customized map. The map can then be shared to friends and family members.
The app also incorporates rewards. Consumers can earn in-app stickers and punches for driving past other users with the app downloaded.
The automaker’s app is in beta mode, but interested users can sign up at http://smileage.vw.com/ to receive an email when it goes live.
There will also be a Web component to the campaign.
Changing advertising model
The Art, Copy & Code project is meant to help brands marry offline and online marketing.
One of the more interesting promises of the initiative is that it focuses around consumer behavior instead of branded information.
For example, the Volkswagen app is more of a daily tool that consumers engage with rather than a piece of display advertising. The app is also built to stick with a consumer for a longer period of time and works with any type of car.
Other brands involved in the Google initiative include Burberry and adidas.
“Over the past few years, we’ve really focused on creating deep partnerships with brands and agencies to create truly compelling brand experiences,” Ms. Faville said.
“Last year’s Project Re:Brief was one example of that,” she said. “We also opened our Brand Lab in our San Bruno office, a physical space where we collaborate with brands and agencies. This initiative is a natural extension of this work.”
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York
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