BMW used a location-based mobile strategy to send consumers to local dealerships. This nationwide hyperlocal campaign allowed the brand to communicate with consumers at a time and place when they would be receptive to BMW's messaging. Throughout the campaign, BMW used both online and offline measurement to optimize spending in real time.
Objective and Context:
Automobile manufacturer BMW needed to increase the number of prospective consumers coming into its dealerships. With just 339 regional BMW dealerships in the U.S, and only 1 percent of internet users identified as luxury auto intenders, a persuasive connection with the audience had be made at the right moments to send consumers into dealerships.
The challenge was two-fold:
BMW's range of automobiles fall into the luxury category. In defining the target audience of luxury auto intenders, demographic research indicated that BMW needed to look at consumers between the ages of 25 and 55 with an income of at least $100,000.
BMW chose to leverage mobile for this campaign so that it could reach the target audience while they were on the go and in the vicinity of a dealership. BMW knew that its location-based partners could help to identify when its target audience members were in the proximity of a local dealership by using geo-location services. The brand then used programmatic buying to find its target audiences across channels in real time.
In planning the campaign strategy, BMW noted that car buying is an emotional experience that typically involves a high amount of research and consideration. In order to reach KPIs related to increasing dealership visits, the brand decided that the winning formula was “Time + Location + Message.” Its creative spoke to the emotional experience of automobile purchasing at a time and location when the target would be more likely to be motivated to visit the dealership.
BMW identified two audience segments for its ad targeting:
Previous BMW campaigns had been focused on encouraging on-site dealer visits. BMW took learnings from these campaigns along with data about when the target audience uses their mobile phones and layered on geo-technology. It was a major shift to be able to send consumers into dealerships and get them closer to the point of purchase.
Overall Campaign Execution:
Nationwide media spend in TV, paid search, and other categories ran during this campaign period; however, the funds allocated to programmatic media buying were dedicated solely to the hyperlocal mobile segment.
BMW started with a broad targeting strategy focused on finding and learning about the target audience and then refined its real-time programmatic media buys to optimize toward the audience that was most receptive to its messaging. Throughout the life of the campaign, BMW continued to optimize based on learnings and key insights of what mobile apps consumers were using and their evolving behavioral patterns when they shopped for a new car.
Some audience learnings that helped optimize creative targeting:
There was over-indexing for apps such as ESPN, NBA Game Time, SoundCloud, and Spotify, which delivered valuable insight into the overall audience’s interests.
To measure success, a research company provided accurate independent online and offline measurement, verifying if the target audiences visited dealerships after ad exposure. The methodology measured the location of exposed users to calculate visits to BMW dealers. A control audience was then matched to the exposed users, and brand lift was calculated between groups. The control was matched on time, geography, operating system, age, gender, income, and ethnicity.
The results of the 2015 campaign showed success beyond initial expectations. From June 1 through December 31, 2015, this campaign generated a 112.8 percent lift in physical dealer visits, equating to 334,548 incremental visits. By focusing on "Time + Location + Message" in the campaign strategy, the brand was able to send audiences into BMW dealerships for sale opportunities.
According to Placed, a third-party attribution company, the BMW campaign was one of the best-performing auto campaigns in 2015 in terms of creating lift in dealership visits.