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Prius iPhone Campaign
Combining “WAP & App” To Drive Consumer Engagement

main_menu.jpgWhen Toyota realized that a very large portion of the traffic to their WAP site came from iPhone users, they decided that for the launch of the new 3rd generation 2010 Prius, they would do something special for that group.

So a few months ago Toyota launched a special version of their mobile site that was optimized for the iPhone.

And now, Toyota has released The Prius Experience App, a free iPhone app that uses the unique features of the iPhone to engage with individual consumers, and also connects the consumer to a large billboard display in New York’s Times Square!

With so much discussion about the competing merits of mobile apps vs. WAP sites, it is good to see a major brand that is using both to achieve the best level of customer engagement: the app provides interesting types of interactivity; and the WAP site gives access to additional information, graphics, media, and links to the web.

Michael K. Nelson, interactive marketing manager for Toyota said “One of the exciting aspects of using mobile for the launch of the new third generation Prius is that this channel allows us to integrate with our social media initiatives and this audience lends itself perfectly for such a launch” (as quoted in Mobile Marketer).

In fact, Facebook was one of the primary means of promoting the app, along with the Prius mobile site and traditional print ads.


The Prius Experience App gives the user a choice of 4 activities: Tour, Interact, Draw, and Play.

The Tour gives a really interesting way to view the interior of the car. By just tilting the iPhone, it changes the view. The app uses the accelerometer to adjust what section of the 3-D interior image you see. So as you tilt back, the view goes up, as you tilt to the right, the view pans right, etc.

It is sort of hard to explain, so here is a video.

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There are also lots small pop-up notes that give you extra information about special features of the car.



The idea behind the Interact section is to provide more information on certain features by interaction with printed Prius ads. The iPhone user takes a picture of as ad, the app recognizes which ad it is, and then go to a section with special information.

A couple of the special information areas are pretty interesting, again using a tilt-based interface to let you see a 3-D model of the outside of the Prius, with special feature pop-up tags.


The unfortunate thing is that the image recognition really didn’t work very well when we tested it. And also, because not everyone would have access to the printed ads, Toyota included them inside the app as an alternate means to get to the special feature pages. So actually it made the image recognition feature pretty much extraneous.


The Draw section of the app lets you draw simple images that are then incorporated into short videos that also explain some Prius features – e.g. you draw a leaf and watch the Prius drives through series of your leaves while reading that a low drag coefficient helps in attaining the 50 mile per gallon performance; you draw the sun and it shows you how the solar roof of the Prius can help keep the car cool.


It was some of these images that could also be sent to be displayed on the large video billboard in New York’s Times Square during a couple of days at the end of October. Here is a short video of that event.

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Finally, the app includes a simple game that let’s you adjust the airflow around a Prius by moving some “force dials”. It is simple, but fun enough to play.


The mobile website

The iPhone app also provides closely integrated links to the Prius mobile website at

The site provides full information and prices about the Prius models, plus gives you 3D views of each model in selectable colors.

But the nicest feature – and one that takes advantage of today’s handset quality and network speeds – is a series of short videos that explain various special features of the Prius. These include the solar powered roof, hybrid power modes, parking assistance, etc.


Here is the video for the solar powered roof, showing how you can use energy from sunlight to keep your car cool while it is parked.

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There is also a “Media and Links” section which provides additional videos such as Prius commercials, links to Prius on Facebook and links to the the iPhone app.


While both the app and the mobile site are good examples on their own, it is the combination that really adds some extra value – the fun interactivity of the app plus the deeper information from the site. And adding in the connection to social media sites such as Facebook makes it even more integrated with consumers normal life. We suspect that this combination might soon start to become the norm for serious mobile campaigns.


30.10.2009    Tags: , ,
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