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Ford taps HTML5 to customize mobile Web car research

Ford recently rolled out a feature to its mobile Web site that makes the car research process more interactive, pointing to the growing opportunities that HTML5 gives marketers in creating richer mobile experiences.

The automaker rolled out the Ford Transit Combinator in July as part of a marketing push for the company?s new 2015 Ford Transit. Ford worked with agency Team Detroit on this initiative.

?The strategy to build the Transit Combinator for mobile was driven to further extend our Transit product awareness to the mobile audience beyond a simple model reveal,? said Brian McClary, digital marketing manager at Ford, Detroit.

?The enhanced interactivity on mobile makes this product reveal unique where consumers can interact and learn about the various specs and combinations that are going to be offered in the 2015 Transit,? he said.

Drive on mobile
The new Ford mobile Web feature lets consumers configure their own car by customizing the body, wheelbase and height of their car.

Previously the feature was exclusively available on Ford?s Web site, and the goal of extending to mobile was to give consumers an opportunity to get a hands-on experience before seeing the car for themselves in showrooms.

Consumers can access the feature by typing into their mobile device.

First consumers can select from four different types of transit vehicles: transit vans, transit wagons, transit chassis cabs and transit cutaways. Then consumers pick a wheelbase and a height, which triggers a landing page that showcases a customized Ford vehicle.

From there consumers can learn more and share their personalized car via Facebook, Twitter and email. Users can also sign up to receive email alerts from Ford with product updates and offers.

There is also an option that prompts consumers to shake their mobile device to randomize the car that Ford selects.

The feature uses HTML5 to view and interact with the multituple configurations of the car. According to the company, the decision to use HTML5 let Ford integrate the feature directly within Ford?s mobile site while also leveraging motion-detected technology such as the ability to shake a mobile device.

In the fast lane
Ford has used several different mobile channels in the past to help drive foot traffic to car dealerships.

Most recently, the company rolled out a nationwide effort to make print brochures more interactive via digital watermarks (see story).

Additionally, Ford took a multichannel approach to promote the brand?s Ford Racing program through augmented reality, SMS, mobile Web and email (see story).

In this case, Ford?s Transit Combinator is an example of how the automaker is increasingly pouring more investments into mobile Web to reach a wider group of users than an application would.

?The new features showcased in the Transit Combinator fit with our overall Ford mobile strategy as we always look to see how we can build relevant product experiences into our existing platforms, rather than create newer destinations that may run the risk of fragmenting our mobile ecosystem,? Mr. McClary said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York