Auto Show Leaders Engage and Win with Interactive

The 2017-2018 auto show show season will demonstrate the power of interactive
Key takeaways:

  • Creative engagement and accelerating the buyer journey is the goal
  • Technology costs and production timelines have shrunk significantly

Marketers of a certain age will remember the 4Ps (Price, Promotion, Product and Place), and how so many decisions were guided by them. For auto show marketers and their brethren planning dealer meetings, entertainment marketing, sports sponsorship and consumer activations in general, that meant thinking mostly about Promotion and Place – what creative story and environmental design will best bring the brand to life at an event and how do we re-leverage that strategy at each execution with tweaks for space and audience.

Standing on the shoulders of that thinking, today’s auto show focus is all about engagement – not just a philosophy of a more experiential kind of storytelling but the personalized, customer-facing interactions that lead buyers further and faster through the sales process. More and more, as strategic marketers, we’re thinking engagement above all else.

The most direct route to this higher performing engagement model has proven to be interactive: hands-on product and brand experiences through everything from augmented reality and virtual reality to configurators, transparent LCDs, smartphone-enabled IoT connections, AI, voice activated experiences, gesture-tech and related digital experiential.

So while architectural design, moving image, lighting, sound and everything else are intrinsic and necessary to auto shows, it’s interactive that “closes the gap” between the product and the buyer. Interactive makes spaces more engaging to buyers and more intelligently linked to OEM’s back-end systems ranging from lead generation and measurement to CRM, web analytics and social.

Interactive is where we win.

So what’s the good news about engagement and digital experiential for the 2017-2018 show season? Two things: (1) the increasing breadth of creative that is now available to auto show marketers and (2) the lower costs and shorter production timelines to create them.

In respect to the breadth of creative, quite simply said it means there are more technologies – and creative, fun ways of deploying them than ever before. Big advances by major tech players like Facebook, Google and Apple are bringing digital experiential to the smartphone and an auto buyer’s everyday life. And non-AR/VR solutions like TLCDs and reactive monitors and surfaces are coming into their own from hospitality to retail. There is more opportunity to experiment and do something groundbreaking than ever before.

In terms of costs, the takeaway is that software and hardware costs are also plummeting and the gear is proven to work, having been used for some years now. We’re looking at an industry standard of about a 10-15% decrease in equipment costs, while on the creative end, agencies have gotten really good at coming up with great ideas that are more than viable within today’s programming and hardware options. And in terms of idea-to-install, we’re looking at production timelines in the 4-8 week range (faster than ever).

For auto show leads looking at ways to enhance 2017-2018, that’s a powerful combination.

OEM brand creative teams and marketing leads are aware of these possibilities and have tasked their experiential agencies to bring them ideas – or they’re going direct to digital experiential groups that offer concepts, engineering, fabrication and installation talent. However it gets done, the takeaway is that there are more groups than ever who can help auto show leads develop new digital engagement concepts and bring them to life.

No matter how an auto show leader approaches the question of engagement, it makes sense to think about smart, on-brand interactive as a way to bridge the gap between environmental design and the buyer experience. Personalizing the auto show experience and bringing buyers into the story within the stand can make all the difference.