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What? Classified Ventures (CV), a provider of digital marketing solutions for real estate and automotive categories, is exploring the possibility of putting its Apartments.com business on the market.
Why it matters: Real estate targeted online advertising services capture a substantial amount of spending worldwide. This category continues to grow as consumer behavior keeps changing over the years.

According to sources such as Chicago Tribune and Market Watch, Chicago-based Classified Ventures LLC announced yesterday it is currently exploring “strategic options” for its Apartments.com business (launched in May, 1998), to which end it is relying on New York-based investment bank Moelis & Company LLC, in order to find the best alternatives.

This process, however, will not impact CV’s Cars.com business.

No decision has been made regarding any transaction at this time, but it is expected that over the next few months, CV’s board of directors and management team will evaluate a variety of strategic options for the company’s Apartments.com portal, which includes category-leading sites such as Apartments.com, RentalHomesPlus.com, and ApartmentHomeLiving.com. These Web sites, along with Cars.com, are designed as digital alternatives to newspaper classified ads and have generated significant revenue for its owners.

Classified Ventures –a strategic joint venture among A.H. Belo Corp., Gannett Co. Inc., The McClatchy Co., The Washington Post Co. and Tribune Co.– publishes online classified ad sites Cars.com, Apartments.com, and HomeGain.com, providing automotive, rental and home listings in the USA. It distributes its content to a network of around 170 Web sites owned and operated by said newspapers and television stations nationwide, as well as top portal operators such as Yahoo! and MSN.

 

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Sharon KnitterOnline has grown to be the largest category in automotive advertising spending over the last few years. Cars.com, the online destination for car shoppers owned by A.H. Belo, Gannett Co. Inc., The McClatchy Co., Tribune Co. and The Washington Post Co., has captured a substantial amount of that growth. Within online advertising, there is particularly growth in mobile. That is why we interviewed Sharon Knitter, Senior Director of Mobile for Cars.com.

In this role, Knitter  works to enhance Cars.com’s mobile site and mobile apps to better serve car shoppers on the go. She also assists with the development of advertising products for manufacturers and dealers to help them reach this growing segment. Below some of the main things Knitter has to say.

Cars.com’s mobile Users are more engaged …

cars Cars,com is visited by 11 million car shoppers each month. According to Knitter, “on a daily basis, all mobile platforms at Cars.com get 280,000 visits and 7.5 million screenviews. 30% of total traffic is mobile. And there  is a higher proportion of page views compared to Desktop. The Mobile web gets an average of between 15 and 20 page views. Apps between 35 and 40 page views per visit on average.”

Mobile users of Cars.com see many more pages

Visits (in million)

Page Views (Screenviews)

Mobile

8.2

227

Desktop

21.9

224.2

Note: April 2013, Mobile figures do not include tablets Source: Cars.com

Interestingly, tablet user behavior is very similar to desktop user behavior.  “There is  almost no difference between desktop and tablets,” Knitter says.

…and provide better leads…

Mobile provides much better leads,  because users are three times more likely to be mobile if they want to find a dealer.” “Mobile car shoppers are more likely to look for maps and dealers.” However, Knitter also notes that 60% of handset users browse while sitting or lying on a  sopha.

…which can be sold at higher CPMs…

cars2Cars.com has been able to monetize the mobile platform as national Advertisers pay higher CPM’s for mobile than desktop (only ad)-display ads. These ads are tipically bought by major car manufacturers during a big digital upfront function at the end of each calendar year. National advertisers are Cars.com first revenue source, the largest one are car dealerships. Dealers typically are charged a monthly subscription fee by zip code or location for  listings in 20/30 mile radius of the dealership.  Knitter says that it is not difficult to sell mobile advertising: “The difficulty rather is serving mobile ads, as there are so many formats.”

…through Cars.com salesforce.

Mobile Marketing
Mobile Marketing

Cars.com has a national advertising salesforce. Locally it is sold in 85 different markets by the newspaper chains who own it (A.H. Belo, Gannett Co. Inc., The McClatchy Co., Tribune Co. and The Washington Post Co.s who own  it.)  These newspapers have strong relationships with the car dealerships which will do display ads in the newspapers and buy online listings in Cars.com. The online destination markets itself mostly by buying automotive related keywords on (local) search engines.. It also advertises heavily via TV spots on Superbowl.

The challenge of measuring mobile performance

cars According to Knitter there is room for improvement in the way companies measure mobile (advertising) performance: “Three years from now we  will better be using mobile data  to measure walk in traffic to dealerships.” Knitter adds that she also would like to see more segmentation in the way mobile data is analyzed. She suggests a mobile “in-home” and “out of home” category. Also  “small” and  “large” mobile screens are interesting subdivsions.  Knitter also wonders whether it makes sense to see tablets as their own category.

The User’s perspective: Usability is Key

cars3 It is commonly said that mobile is not digital on a smaller screen and Knitter agrees: “Putting a newspaper on a website is not a website. Likewise, putting a website on mobile is not a mobile strategy,” she notes.  According to Knitter, context is key. So if users are looking for pricing or what the trade-in car is worth and what other inventory is available, that information should be readily available:  “We need to make it very easy for the user. The key question is how do we make it better for consumers. If we make it better for consumers its better for advertisers. We have started to do registration and consumer profiles to understand our audience better. Editorially, our 20 person editorial team that does a lot of mobile including car and lifestyle reviews.”

Does the Spanish-language site have any traction among Hispanics?

Cars.com has a Spanish-language site targeting Spanish-dominant Hispanics. “It never  got a lot of traction,” says Knitter acknowledging that it gets very little traffic. Knitter adds that her team is starting to get information from dealers on whether they have a Spanish-language sales force.

Total Auto Industry Ad Spending , 2009 – 2012 (Values in US $ millions)

Media

2009

2010

CHG %

2011

CHG

%

2012 (P)

CHG

%

Broadcast TV

$5,604

$5,778

3.1

$6,018

4.1

$6,551

8.9

Cable

$1,255

$1,047

-16.5

$1,083

3.4

$1,142

5.4

Cinema

$81

$104

29.6

$150

43.6

$230

53.3

Direct Mail

$1,383

$1,048

-24.2

$985

-6.1

$902

-8.4

Directories

$448

$336

-25

$254

-24.5

$229

-9.7

Newspapers

$5,061

5.047

6.8

$5,605

3.7

$5.720

2.2

Online

$5,818

$6,628

13.9

8,532

28.7

$11,888

39.3

Other Print

$3,149

$2,451

-22.2

$2,448

-0.1

$2,372

-3.1

Outdoor

$466

$475

1.9

$501

5.6

$521

3.9

Radio

$1,726

$999

-42.1

$1,032

3.3

$1,054

2.2

Telemarketing

$426

$504

18.2

$514

2

$460

-10.6

U.S. Total (1)

$25,417

$24,780

-2.5

$27,122

9.5

$31,074

14.6

Dealer Share (2)

57.80%

59.50%

61.00%

58.20%

Association Share

7.10%

6.80%

6.70%

6.50%

Manufacturer Share

35.10%

33.70%

32.30%

35.30%

Sources: NADA, NIADA, Dun & Bradstreet, Borrell Associates Inc., 2012 Note: (1) Does not include private party sales (2) “Dealer Share” includes franchised and independent dealers

Comment: Online has grown to be the largest category in automotive advertising spending over the last few years. This growth has come mostly at the expense of Newspaper classified advertising. Interestingly, according to the table above, Automotive Newspaper Advertising has not decreased overall, although it has stagnated. Smaller categories like Other print, including magazines, Radio, direct mail, and Directories have decreased in expenditures. Dealerships, strong local advertisers, continue to amount to almost 60% of overall expenditures, with manufacturers, strong national advertisers, making up approximately 35% of total expenditures.

 

A summary for Corporate Marketers, Media Sales Executives and Advertising Agencies to see what clients are moving into the Hispanic market and/or targeting Hispanic consumers right now.

  • Domino’s Pizza

Domino's PizzaDomino’s launched an unprecedented Spanish-language campaign highlighting the story of Domino’s franchisee Reece Arroyave He began with handing out flyers, taking calls and making pizzas – and has now reached the height of Domino’s franchise ownership at his ten Chicago-area locations. The television campaign begins today, June 27, nationwide and is the first story of its kind for Domino’s. “We are so proud to help tell Reece’s story, which is one that truly defines what Domino’s is all about,” said Patrick Doyle, Domino’s Pizza president and chief executive officer. “He is one of the many who have worked extremely hard, seized opportunity and are now able to call themselves Domino’s franchise owners.” Arroyave, who was born in Medellin, Colombia, and raised in Libertyville, Ill., will make his national television debut when the ad begins today.

  • Vodafone-McLaren-Mercedes

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has launched a Spanish language version of its official website – engaging millions of native Spanish-speakers and underlining the team’s commitment to creating an increasingly accessible, dynamic and engaging digital presence. The Spanish site – http://es.mclaren.com/formula1 – which launches ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, is also complemented by a new all-Spanish Twitter feed. @McLarenF1es will replicate the activity of the team’s official feed, @McLarenF1, which recently changed its name to improve accessibility and further enhance reach and engagement. The new Spanish website and Twitter account also reflects not only a significant uplift in interest from Mexico following the signing of Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez, but also the large Hispanic population in the USA who are increasingly activating digital content through mobile devices.

  • Honda Acura

Honda Acura MDXHonda is targeting female drivers for its redesigned 2014 Acura MDX sport wagon with the luxury brand’s most expensive advertising campaign yet. Honda is investing US$ 78 million in the media buy. Using the slogan “Made for Mankind,” a female narrates the moody ads showing women hiking a mountain ridge, dancing and interacting with a robot. The 60 second TV commercial debuts during the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Finals this month, while the full campaign starts July 7, Tokyo-based Honda said. Honda is betting the ads will boost Acura sales that have fallen 25 percent in the U.S. from a peak of 209,610 in 2005. The advertising was created by Mullen.Gary Robinson, manager-Acura national advertising and brand, called it “the biggest launch in Acura history in terms of scope and dollars … double what we spent on the RDX.” Acura spent $39 million on the national launch of the RDX in 2012, according to Kantar Media.

  • Dallas Hispanic oriented retailer occupies large retail space

An El Rancho grocery store and a bazaar operated by an Elgin, Ill.-based retailer are planned for the former Kmart shopping center at the southwest corner of Felix Street and Interstate 35, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports.Now called Felix Square, the Hispanic-oriented grocery store will occupy a 34,000-square-foot building adjacent to a McDonald’s restaurant, and the bazaar will go in the 84,000-square-foot former Kmart, said Luis Pina with Accent Commercial Real Estate in Dallas.Pina, Jake Jordan and a Houston investor, JSCAM, bought the 15-acre site in south Fort Worth, near Interstate 20, in October. Accent is managing and redeveloping the property.Another multi-tenant building on the property will also be redeveloped, Pina said. Those tenants include Family Dollar, Metro PCS, ATI, Azteca Dental, a medical clinic and a construction uniform store.

  • Motorola

Motorola has chosen Publicis´s Digitas to handle its global media buying and planning. The account was managed by Mindshare for last 8 years.The account was changed without a review. Razorfish continues with the digital global account.The account is estimated in UDS550 million

  • Cars.com

Cars.com, the premier online resource for buying and selling new and used cars announced today the launch of a collaboration with Disney for the soon-to-be-released film, The Lone Ranger. The new drama-filled, action-adventure movie will be in theaters starting July 3. In the meantime, fans can visit www.Cars.com/nodrama for special trailer footage from the movie. “Our media campaign for this year is designed to reach a huge audience of car shoppers–first we kicked things off with the Big Game, more recently with a NASCAR partnership, and now with Disney, one of America’s most beloved brands,” said Linda Bartman, Cars.com’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We’ve succeeded at building awareness for our new campaign and overall brand since the launch of the new ads, and this Disney integration will continue to keep that momentum going forward.” The new integration with Disney follows the format of the site’s 15-second commercials, which offer dramatic alternatives to drama-free car shopping on Cars.com. In this collaboration with Disney, shoppers who love drama in the movies can go see The Lone Ranger in theaters, those that hate drama when car shopping can go to Cars.com.
From June 24 through July 14, a limited number of promo codes worth up to $13 toward a ticket to the film will be available to fans who visit www.Cars.com/nodrama and watch movie trailer footage from Disney’s The Lone Ranger. Fans can also catch special ALL DRIVE. No drama. T.V. commercials and digital ads featuring footage from The Lone Ranger.

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