While Toyota ranks as the leading automotive brand in the world, the company is a follower when it comes to augmented reality.
Nonetheless, Toyota is catching up with the competition with a web-based augmented reality advertising campaign for the 2020 Corolla.
Executed by ad agency Conill and 8th Wall's web-based AR platform, the experience is delivered via mobile banner ads to Hispanic customers in the US. The campaign is limited to Android devices for now, though Conill plans to extend the experience to iOS users later this year.
"This type of execution, without the need to download apps, goes beyond traditional media channels and reinforces Toyota's position as leader in innovation and technology," said Veronica Elizondo, vice president and group creative director at Conill, in a statement.
In addition to viewing a 3D model of the Corolla in their personal space, users can access more information about the vehicle's moonroof, LED headlights, and 18-inch alloy wheels via hotspots in the experience. Tapping the virtual vehicle activates corresponding animations, such as opening the moonroof, turning the headlights on and off, and spinning the wheels. Users can also capture images of their experience for sharing with others.
"We always want to offer our guests a greater vehicle experience," said Cynthia Tenhouse, vice president of vehicle marketing & communications at Toyota Motor North America. "We're excited to deliver an engaging digital experience that produces a unique opportunity for consumers to visualize and engage with the greater-than-ever Corolla at the touch of their fingertips."
"Augmented reality provides a natural and intuitive way for people to consume digital content, and brands can leverage this to build a more authentic relationship with their customers," said Erik Murphy-Chutorian, CEO of 8th Wall. "The web-based AR experience that Conill created for the Toyota Corolla sedan using 8th Wall technology is an example of an interactive, immersive advertisement that can be experienced within the mobile browser, allowing the customer to virtually bring the product into their own environment. This not only provides important context and visualization for technical features to the user, but it helps to qualify customers before they arrive at the dealership."
In addition to the Corolla campaign, Toyota has tapped ad firm Saatchi & Saatchi to deliver AR ads on mobile web and Facebook ads via Vertebrae's web-based AR ad platform. According to a Vertebrae spokesperson, the campaign will highlight 10 models and provide callouts on key features, much like the Corolla campaign.
By making the leap into AR advertising, Toyota lands on the bandwagon (or car carrier, if you will) filled with its peers.
Porche was among the first brands (automotive or otherwise) to publish a mobile app leveraging ARKit for its Mission E concept and recently published a new AR app highlighting more models. BMW has not only pushed its own AR app, but also sponsored a Snapchat Lens for its vehicles.
Meanwhile, Kia has been an early adopter of Facebook's AR platform via Messenger as well as Magic Leap via the RelayCars app. Both Renault and Nissan opted for Star Wars tie-ins for their approaches to AR marketing, with the former partnering Shazam and the latter deploying its experience in its dealerships.
While Toyota isn't the first automaker to jump into augmented reality's passenger seat, the company is blazing a new path by opting for a web-based AR experience versus a native app or an AR platform requiring an app download.