BMW of North America is running the first user-generated iAD promoting the launch of the BMW X3. The focus of the ad plays off of BMW's built-to-order program for the new car. Essentially viewers - like actual customers - imagine their dream car and then build it. While the next step in this process for paying customers is to have their customized BMW delivered to their driveway, viewers get a virtual road test of their custom designed car. Each “dream car” in the ad was selected from real submissions on the BMW USA Facebook page.
The 'shake' feature on iPhone and iPod touch lets users to browse the dreams - all riffs on how the car will change a life - as well as the X3 color options. Viewers then submit their own dream, which can then be shared with the BMW community through the iAd. They have the X3's 70 million unique configurations on the iAd to play with starting with colors and wheels that can be changed, the vehicle's angle, interior options, and even the environment, which can move from a cityscape to mountains. Viewers then drive their cars by browsing video content and downloading images from a gallery of hi-res wallpapers.
Once they have had their fun with the iAd, the viewer taps the close button and returns to the app they were using.
The first several months of iAd’s launch has been characterized by some great media play, and then quiet, behind-the-scenes disgruntlement on the part of some advertisers. Of the 17 ad partners that launched with the iAd in June, only two - Unilever and Nissan - had iAd campaigns running for much of July. These reasons have included the tight control Apple is keeping over the creative process which has added weeks to the process. Then there is the expense - $1 million a package - that has no doubt deterred more advertisers from signing up, at least until the results of these early adopters become clear. Apple has also worried some companies with its insistence of keeping control of the customer relationship and its stinginess with analytics information.
Marketers, though, are forging ahead with the iAd, with BMW being the latest example. One namely, is that the click through rates and other engagement metrics are much higher than compared to other online ad formats. A Nissan spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that its iAd "has driven exceptional results to date" with the rate of users tapping on the banner five times the click-through-rate of the online campaign.