Volkswagen Partners With Google To Increase ‘Smileage’

ArtCopyCode logoVolkswagen created the “Smileage” mobile app, expanding on its 2012 campaign slogan, “It’s not the miles; it’s how you live them.” Working with Google, VW’s app is the first project from Google’s Art, Copy & Code project, showcasing how companies can use technology — Google’s technologies in particular — to create more innovative brand experiences.

The app, which will be available soon in beta, is a type of trip-tracker, which monitors the weather, miles driven, and traffic happening during a car ride, as well as if the car passed other Smileage users or VW cars on the road. It can be used, with a Google+ sign-in, to upload photos, videos, and social media posts about the trip, to share with friends and family, said Justin Osborne, GM of advertising and marketing communications for Volkswagen.

Google plays a role in this project by providing back-end support and assisting VW with advertising of the app, which Osborne said is still in planning stages.

At first, the app will be pushed out via one-to-one messaging at auto shows, in-dealer activations, and other events, but “later in the year, we’ll definitely have paid advertising,” Osborne said. “We’ll leverage any cutting edge tools Google can dream up to make sure we’ll talk to the right people.”

This targeted outreach will focus on VW owners, first and foremost, to build customer loyalty and keep owners connected to the brand, Osborne said.

“And for those who don’t own one of our cars, it is a conquesting tool,” he added. “Here you are, you own a Honda, but you have Volkswagen with you all the time. You are cheating on Honda because you are always hanging out with Volkswagen.  It turns into a top-of-mind thing and they may consider Volkswagen next or we can tailor messages to them in the future depending on what data we get.”


For the targeting elements, Google and VW will leverage data and programmatic buying, said Aman Govil, the project lead for Art, Copy & Code at Google.

“Programmatic buying is the science of buying the ad and getting it in front of the right person at the right time. A lot of these experiments are also focused on how you make sure the message in those ads is just as powerful and just as relevant to those folks,” he told AdExchanger.

Google is also working with adidas and Burberry for the Art, Copy & Code program, which will take the data from these campaigns to determine which types of experiments — and which technologies used — perform best for brand marketing.

“As marketers at Google, we don’t want to just talk about what our products can do, we also want to show it,” Govil said. “It’s no secret that the web is going to play an increasingly important role in how brands are built. We want to play a part in that. Ads are one component of that, and so are web experiences, mobile, and any new technologies that will come out.”

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