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Nissan?s investment in standalone AR app successfully engages college students

NEW YORK ? A Nissan executive at the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2016 said that a significant amount of research and planning went into developing its college sports fan application, Diehard Fans, resulting in a top-five ranking on the Apple App Store in the sports category. 

During the session, Nissan: Mobile Strategy for Meaningful Action Beyond the Usual KPIs, the executive stressed the importance of creating a standalone app that serves a purpose, which was demonstrated through the success of Diehard. The augmented reality app lets users try on face paint that represents college sports teams and saw more than 2 million saved photos and videos, likely due to the immense care and planning that went into it. 

"It was with a heavy heart when we took a look at this opportunity and said is this the right thing to put in an app to move forward," said Robert Brown, senior manager for interactive marketing at Nissan. "So we did our homework and talked about what went into this, what was going on with consumer behavior, insight and this aspect of our brand, to make sure it made sense. 

"Then of course we looked at the commitment to support it in a way we thought would be effective, and of course we wanted access to this particular execution to the hardware, to the super computer that is in your pocket," he said.

The Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2016 was organized by Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer.

Mapping out experiences
Nissan meticulously planned and researched how to make an app that resonated with fans and provided them with an experience with which they wanted to engage. Knowing that the fan base for college sports hits a wide range of consumers with an intense sentimentality, the brand sought out to become a part of that conversation but needed to provide a highly rewarding experience. 
The automaker launched the facial recognition standalone app in which users can take photos and videos of themselves in face paint of their favorite team?s colors. But prior to its launch, Nissan made sure to provide the most realistic experience possible, so that the app would provide a captivating call-to-action. 

The brand created a formula that balanced an experience users were interested in, with just enough branding that made consumers aware that the app was from Nissan, but was not too disruptive. Nissan employed app store optimization and paid search tactics to ensure that Diehard Fan would appear within a wide range of misspelled results and provided a direct link to download on mobile devices.

Success in sports
Diehard Fan has seen such success that it often appears in the top slot of the Sport category in the App Store, where it competes against big hitters such as ESPN. Nissan also saw success with its brand awareness without being too much of an advertisement, as 71 percent of consumers knew it was the brand?s app. 

Nissan's Diehard Fan app 

Nissan?s app got a significant amount of word-of-mouth promotion, with 53 percent of consumers claiming to have recommended the app to a friend. 

College sports offers a unique opportunity for Nissan to really connect with fans, as so many are very emotional about the subject. This is shown through negative reviews on the App Store, all of which were unrelated to the performance of the app and only referenced fans? disappointment if their team was left out, due to copyright issues.  

"So certainly, engagement anywhere anytime was a really big deal," Mr. Brown said. "Based on the hyper contextually relevant opportunities that this afforded us, we were able to get inventory on college campuses where you would not normally be able to touch."