It's never been more important to engage customers digitally, especially in the automotive industry. Across the board, customers are increasingly making their purchase decisions online (Autotrader; Accenture), and the internet currently offers the only reliable touchpoints for brands, while dealerships struggle to get back to BAU during social distancing.
However, engaging customers online is also more competitive than ever. Global spending on digital ads is growing year on year (IAB), but space is limited: Google and Facebook alone will account for over 50% of all digital ad spend in 2020 (Forbes). Add to this increasing ‘banner blindness', widespread ad blocker use, and slow-loading landing pages - which 70% of users say influence their decision to purchase (Unbounce) - and it's easy to see why brands are struggling to make ground in these competitive marketplaces.
Micro-Configurator Mobile Ads
ŠKODA recognised the need to engage customers as early in the purchase journey as possible, so it worked with ZeroLight, PHD, and Optimist to create a micro-configurator within the Facebook mobile app. This meant ŠKODA could engage potential customers at the most receptive part of their purchase journeys: the awareness and consideration stages, before most customers have decided on a make or model.
"At ŠKODA, our customer-first principles guide us in all that we do, including the development of innovative and inventive communication formats and tools. That's exactly what we are achieving here - we have made our configurator an appealing part of the Facebook experience to seamlessly lead potential customers to our key business tool. Even if no immediate conversion is made, the visual and interactive experience alone is greatly contributing to the brand image of ŠKODA and the desirability of the OCTAVIA. It's definitely another "keeper" in our communication toolbox."
Tobias Talmon, Head of ŠKODA Global Marketing Communication
The micro-configurator ads were built using Facebook's Instant Experience (IX) advertising platform, which delivers full-screen, interactive ads to users within the Facebook mobile app. One of the key benefits of the IX platform is that it avoids the bottleneck of slow-loading external landing pages, as the user never leaves the app. As a result, these ads load 15 times faster than external mobile web pages (Facebook), which will reduce bounce rate and improve conversions.
"Our primary focus is ensuring we deliver the best possible digital configuration experience for our future customers. Facebook's Instant Experiences enabled us to achieve this by combining interactive and engaging content, delivered with the world's best-in-class technology."
Brendan Hewitt, Global Innovation Director, PHD
The ad invites users into a full-screen guided experience that will enable them to select their preferred configuration options. At each of the ad's four stages, the user can explore the options via a range of engaging visual elements, including feature spots, images, videos, and panoramas.
The experience was first deployed in The Czech Republic on the 20th of March, before being extended to Sweden by the end of May. It is currently being rolled out to Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Belgium, Bulgaria, and the UK during August. This rapid roll out will continue throughout the year: by the end of 2020, the ads will also be live in Italy, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Australia, France, Switzerland, Finland, Russia, Hungary, Austria, and New Zealand.
The initial campaign in The Czech Republic exceeded the performance of ŠKODA's common Instant Experience campaigns in all KPIs. Some of the standout performance KPIs are below.
Building A Scalable IX Project
The visual content in the experience was produced by ZeroLight. It used its extensive experience with Facebook Instant Experiences - such as the Audi e-tron campaign from 2019 - to create efficiencies in all aspects of the development.
"By seamlessly integrating highly engaging content into a key upper-funnel touchpoint, ŠKODA can maximise the impact of its advertising campaigns. As more of the car-buying journey moves online, interactive ads such as this will become a vital tool for brands hoping to stand out from the competition and influence purchase decisions."
Francois de Bodinat, Chief Product Officer, ZeroLight
Like in all of ZeroLight's Instant Experience projects, this campaign visualises each configuration option for the car in a full page of the experience. Each of these pages features detailed 3D visualisations of certain aspects of the car. This experience features 80-120 of these pages (the number differs due to market-specific variations), which are organised in a decision-tree model, where the page the user sees is dictated by the option they chose at the previous stage.
Because each market has unique requirements - for instance, the copy, the available options, and the car's driving position - the content in the ads was different for each country. To deliver this efficiently, ZeroLight created a master template, which was then adapted to suit each market's needs, accounting for any variations in design, copy, or vehicle information and features.
"As a creative agency these are incredibly exciting times to change the conversation through experiences. Widely used social media platforms like Facebook and its Instant Experience have reduced the constraints on advertising creative and enabled us to grow the engagement in our campaigns with a broader audience."
Steffen Günther, Client Service Director for Optimist Prague
The content was then brought to market by ŠKODA's media buyer, PHD, and creative agency, Optimist. The comms strategies were devised and managed by PHD, while Optimist approved the ZeroLight's design and ensured the content was in line with branding.