Capturing On-the-Go Consumers: MINI USA and Vistar Media Tips

The Ad Club of NY recently hosted its sixth annual Out-Of-Home: Now conference, focusing on social, local and mobile (SoLoMo) and looking at leveraging the omni-channel ecosystem to reach and engage audiences on the go.


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The morning started with a keynote by Matt Ian (you may want to check his Twitter handle, by the way), Executive Creative Director at TBWAChiatDay New York. He shared inspiring examples of engaging campaigns (not necessarily from his own firm), including one of MINI USA, who was also there to present case studies later.

Two panels respectively explored the SoLoMo challenges and the future of buying for the out-of-home user/consumer.

To explore the on-the-go approaches on both a brand and a buying side, ClickZ spent some time with Tom Salkowsky, head of marketing at auto brand MINI USA, and Michael Provenzano, co-founder at Vistar Media, the location-based ad platform.

MINI USA Builds Engagement with Experiential Ads

Tom Salkowsky focused on showing his brand’s engagement via experiential ads. The MINI Coupe Rocket Launch and the MINI Roadster Peepshow were two examples he shared during his presentation.

mini-usa-logoEarlier, Ian shared the brand’s UK MINI Salutes You #MININOTNORMAL campaign, in which billboards would interact with passing drivers and lead them to get perks (car washes, gourmet dinners cooked, flowers offered,… you name it). Inventive — they really are worth watching, trust us — fun and engaging, those campaigns are not social or mobile, per se, though they are very local and targeted specifically for the out-of-home user/consumer.

Hyper Local and Experiential 

MINI USA’s bias is to focus on the brand as a whole experience, as opposed to a product specific orientation, Salkowsky explained. He calls MINI USA a “feisty underdog brand,” which prefers to invest in its community’s life, so to speak. He described the MINI owners as people who “like to have fun, share a kindred spirit, are tech savvy and are willing to maintain their community.” MINI is tapping into the ‘we’re special’ feeling, turning scarcity into an asset, which allows them to reach out to owners out-of-home in their various campaigns.

Social Customer Service

Mini USA is an “always on” brand, Salkowsky insisted; it is on social channels, which it uses primarily to broadcast new community-gathering initiatives (see the #MINIGiftswap just launched for this holiday season) and as a customer service channel. “Social is a way to continue the dialogue,” he said, specifiying that “more than half of the budget and time is dedicated to social.” Tech-savvy drivers need to be able to reach out to the brand on the go.

Smartphones and Tablets Rising

Traffic referral from Facebook to the website has seen annual double-digit growth. An increasing number of consumers interact via their mobile and tablet devices now, Salkowsky said. The company website was only optimized for smartphones in Q1 2011 and this year for tablets, which together now account for over 30 percent of traffic to the company website.

In short, MINI USA’s target audience needs to be reached on the go as the brand is, by essence, providing a means to be and get on the road, on the go. MINI USA manages to

  1. gather its community and prospective users around unique outdoor initiatives; 
  2. boost and prolong the dialogue via social, and 
  3. benefit from the mobile surge and drive (no pun intended) increased smartphone and tablet traffic to their site.

Vistar Media Dedicated to On-the-Go Ad Buys







The Vistar Media platform does two things:

  1. For place-based ads (those screens in cabs, at the doctor’s office, etc.), it aggregates all the available inventory of all screens into one exchange, providing digital agencies with location-targeted untapped options.
  2. For billboards, the platform pulls together (unused) real-time location data from mobile users and serves the gathered information as intelligence for brands who are willing to optimize their CPM. The data enables Vistar Media to define the audiences, which, in turn, allow smart ad buys and retargeting.

Digital ad agencies partnering with Vistar Media are the ones “who focus on innovation, buy a lot of mobile space and look at the on-the-go user,” Vistar Media’s Provenzano said.

Location, Location, Location

Location provides a lot of information and offers some context to user actions. However, the big challenge is the quality of the data. Mobile exchanges can be a trap — less than 10 percent of the mobile coordinates (latitudes and longitudes) are accurate, Provenzano explained. Most of the time, phone locations look to an I.P. address, which will hook up to the nearest central tower, for example, instead of the actual location.

In short, Vistar Media fills in an empty spot by providing the technology to make real-time, data-driven decisions. Watch this space.  

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