Facebook advertising is a tough nut to crack, and as a result, most of the ads I’ve seen have simply resorted to the lowest common denominator of selling easy sex, free money and cheap travel. Occasionally though, a company manages to break through the clutter with an innovative ad campaign that just seems to ‘get’ what Facebook is all about, and Volkswagen is the latest example of one of those companies, having recently released an app that taps into the data hidden within social networks in a new and interesting way.
Called Meet the Volkswagens, it was made by Crispin Porter + Bogusky (the same shop that created Whopper Sacrifice) and actually digs through your social profile information to match you with a pair of potential vehicles from the stable of available Volkswagens. As far as I can tell, the app works by looking through your profile for key bits of pre-categorized information that it can then use to put you into one of a handful of pre-determined categories, such as age, sex, number of children (if any), job (if any), hobbies, interests, and a few other things that almost everyone will have filled out.
From there, Max and Bus (the VW Bug and VW Bus personalities from the current VW commercials; a nice touch) give users their two matches, and users can then click on one of their matches to dive into one of the fourteen specific Pages that have been set up for fans of each vehicle to share photos, videos and stories with one another. The suggestions also pull quotes from fans, so presumably (and hopefully) Volkswagen is using these pages to gather media that they can then use to add some personal flair to their web and print ads, television commercials, and other social initiatives.
Other than matching you with your future VW and then allowing you to dive into a Page that has been set up for that vehicle to see what owners are saying about it, the app doesn’t do much else, so it’s really just a pretty face on a fancy recommendation engine. However, by combining a data comber with a slick interface and a wealth of available information and actual customer reviews, the Meet the Volkswagens app manages to create a rather seamless user experience that encourages you to explore the results and then pass it along to a friend so they can see what VW the magic Meet the Volkswagens app pairs them with as well.
- Taps into existing social network data to make using a recommendation engine a fun experience.
- Automatically tailors the application to each individual user, making it more relevant to their needs.
- Uses elements from other parts of their campaign to give their current marketing efforts a universal look and feel.
- The results fit people into a limited number of categories based on a non-universal set of data, so the app runs the risk of offending someone by mis-categorizing them.
- The application was not promoted in their television commercials or print ads to increase exposure.
- Applications allow companies to learn a little bit about their customers before an interaction so that they can customize the user experience for each individual.