International micro-configurator ad campaign using Facebook’s Instant Experiences
Audi UK wanted to create a product experience advert to generate awareness and engagement with the UK launch of the company's modern, technologically advanced flagship: the e-tron. Working alongside Audi UK's agency partners, We Are Social (WAS) and PHD, ZeroLight sought to capture the e-tron's innovation with this campaign, using Facebook's Instant Experience ads format to let customers to configure the car without leaving the Facebook app. The campaign was live via Audi UK's Facebook ads from the 29th March to the 28th April 2019.
Formerly known as Canvas ads, Facebook's Instant Experiences are designed to address the costly advertising bottleneck of slow-loading external landing pages. Advertising on Facebook - the most popular social app by both penetration (Comscore) and active user base (Statista) - is a vital part of modern marketing, but brands are constantly battling with high bounce rates due to slow page-load times (Section). Loading 15x faster than mobile web pages (Facebook), Instant Experiences solve this issue by delivering full-screen, mobile-optimised adverts to users' Facebook News Feed. With mobile users now spending 90% of their browsing time in apps (Jmango), Instant Experiences give advertisers a powerful tool to deliver highly visual content directly to where customers spend most of their time.
"Until now car brands have struggled to offer consumers a positive configurator experience for choosing different options when researching their next car purchase on mobile devices; loading times are long and drop off rates have been high. This pioneering solution using Instant Experiences provides consumers with a fully personalised, immersive experience in the palm of their hands, without the need to leave the Facebook app."
Anita Fox, Head of Automotive UK, Facebook
Using a variety of rich media, the e-tron experience is designed to demonstrate the beauty and excitement of the car while explaining several of its advanced features. Users are able to configure and explore various aspects of the car as they move through the full-screen advert, and they even have the option of sending their configured car to their nearest dealership. With car-buyers increasingly making their purchase decisions online (Autotrader; Accenture), interactive micro-configurators such as this could become a vital tool for brands hoping to attract potential customers and influence their decisions.
"The new Audi e-tron is no ordinary car, so it requires an extraordinary marketing campaign. Facebook's Instant Experiences enabled us to create this modern approach, delivering incredible content directly to our customers' fingertips."
Emma Page, Social Media Lead, Audi UK
Developing an industry-first
Built on a decision-tree model, the Instant Experience gives users a range of colour, alloy, wing mirror, and interior options to choose from at four different stages, with individual pages modelling every possible configuration. The experience features 196 of these pages, each one loaded with engaging images, videos, and interactive panoramas to create a unique configuration and exploration journey.
In order to populate this system of pages with the 1041 digital assets required to show each possible option, ZeroLight used its cloud-based content creation platform, SpotLight, to design and procedurally generate large batches of assets. Using ZeroLight's real-time rendered 3D models, SpotLight can quickly produce a range of media in custom dimensions for use in any digital or print campaigns.
Using this platform to create the assets, ZeroLight's design team could quickly finalise, internally QA, and get client approval on the camera paths, experience flow, and overall design. This was achieved by rendering out individual assets to create a single working flow through the experience. Once this was approved by all parties, the team loaded the camera angles and configurations back into SpotLight, incorporated any client feedback, and generated the full set of assets in large-scale batches. To avoid creating an experience with noticeable blocks of images, a gradient was automatically applied to each asset in this process. The result is a fluid experience that seamlessly flows between each stage.
This automated rendering system minimised the potential for human error and significantly accelerated the development process. What's more, these efficiencies are scalable: because SpotLight is cloud powered, it is able to render large batches far faster than if it was rendering locally. If the number of cloud instances is increased to match the batch size, SpotLight can render any batch in the same amount of time it takes to render one single asset. As a result, the design, approval, and asset generation in this project took only 3 weeks.
"This project demonstrates the power of SpotLight's automated content production capabilities. Using this tool, we were able to help our partners create a highly engaging and innovative brand experience, and we are very excited to see the impact on Audi's advertising ROI."
François de Bodinat, CMO, ZeroLight
Scaling to new markets
After the success of the UK pilot, the experience was adapted for Audi Germany. This adaptation saw the total number of pages increase from 196 to 211 and required a full redesign to reflect the German language, configuration options, and driving position. After loading the previous camera angles back into SpotLight, the team was able to implement these changes in two weeks by flipping the camera angles to suit the different driving position and adjusting the configurations. Once translated into German, the copy was then added, and the was design updated to suit.