Volkswagen has taken to visual discovery platform Pinterest to rev up curiosity about electric vehicles by allowing users to take its VW ID.4 for a virtual spin. The immersive driving experience launched June 14, with an additional walk through by Pinterest’s influential creators rolling out in July.

Pinterest partnered with the production studio Unit9 to implement a technical, immersive 360 test drive experience. Marketing agency 3P built the microsite for the experience that ran within the Pinterest platform.

“Our goal was to have audiences be able to experience all the amazing features of the ID.4 through a user-first journey,” said Kimberly Gardiner, senior vice president, Volkswagen Brand Marketing. 

As the EV market matures, and models go down in price, automakers are looking for broad exposure that can make owning a chargeable car more mainstream. 

Discovery on social

With Pinterest approaching half a billion monthly active users, a hit on Pinterest can mean lots of eyeballs and engagement. Pinterest has also demonstrated that it performs high in key industries, making it attractive to major advertisers. Of course, the experience has to be up to the challenge.

“Instead of simply telling users about the benefits of the new model, we want to let them feel immersed in the ID.4 experience by putting them in the driver’s seat,” Gardiner said.

In the traditional car buying journey, a test drive comes toward the end when drivers are close to purchase. Taking a virtual spin flips this journey by offering an interesting digital experience to Pinterest users who may or may not be contemplating a new car.

Pinterest is certainly known as a creative hub for people to exchange ideas about interior design or cooking, but they also show a lot of interest in the automotive category. Over 8 million users are actively engaging in auto content, and one in three get inspired to shop for cars that they didn’t come onto the platform originally to look for, according to Pinterest’s own research.

“With lower-funnel digital campaigns, we’re looking for a fairly narrow audience of in-market users who are ready to search for inventory or get to the nearest dealer very soon,” said Gardiner. “An experience like this opens up VW to a whole new pool of potential drivers who may not be ready to buy now, but will be in the future. We need to seed those conversations now so that we’re in their consideration set down the road.”

A data-driven electric drivers’ experience

So what’s it like to drive an EV? And how are those features linked up in the Pinterest digital experience?

“This experience allows users to customize the test drive so they can ‘try out’ the features they find appealing,” Gardiner said. “One example is the car’s ambient lighting. It’s one thing for us to show it being used in a commercial, but the Virtual Test Drive allows users to change the lighting so they can customize the experience, just as they would in person.”

The ID.4 campaign also has standard big-brand messaging, but this Pinterest virtual experience has a different aim.

“The key difference is that this is a user-led experience, versus a brand-led story,” Gardiner explained. “Our standard messaging does a great job of highlighting all of ID.4’s features, but we know that different features resonate with different consumers.”

“A key creative best practice,” said Andy Holton, Pinterest’s Global Head of Creative Strategy, “is continuity between Pin creative and landing page destination, and VW did this in a really fun, interactive and innovative way.”

He added, “The other secret ingredient is Pinterest insights. By tapping into what people are searching for, like ‘road trips’ or ‘coastal drives’ for this experience in particular, we can ensure that branded content is truly additive and hits the mark in bringing people inspiration.”

Non-traditional and customized

Volkswagen was looking for a way to optimize digital experience beyond the standard in-feed, in-stream ad experience, according to Gardiner.

“Through a collaborative effort, we decided that a virtual test drive experience would be a great way to leverage Pinterest’s audience insights and platform to bring the ID.4 to life for millions,” she said. “This is the first time we’ve ever done something so completely custom, allowing users to experience the drive from their homes, offering a variety of terrains from the mountains to the coast, to get a feel for what it would be like to be in the seat of this brand new, revolutionary vehicle.”

Next up is a “walk-though” by Pinterest creators who will further educate users about the ID.4 model.

“Both of these initiatives are about finding non-traditional ways to familiarize the consumer with the benefits of the ID.4, and inspire them to truly consider the electric life,” said Gardiner. “Working with creators, we’re looking for people who are deeply engaged with the content and are likely to act on the creators’ recommendations. Starting a conversation with consumers in these ways opens up a wealth of opportunities to continue to engage with them, either via VW.com or at their nearest dealer.”

About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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