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Competitors joining forces and succeeding

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Competitors joining forces and succeeding

Today, Cars.com is the leading online automotive destination in the USA, says Sharon Knitter, Director of Product Management. The website was launched in 1998 by a consortium of newspaper companies consisting of Belo Corp., Gannett, McClatchy, Tribune Company and the Washington Post. Cars.com is still owned by those publishing companies,.

The site attracts 10 million unique monthly visitors with more than 2 million listings of new and used vehicles. Its mission is to connect shoppers with automotive advertisers, be they manufacturers, local dealers or private sellers. Most of its revenues (75%) come from local dealers, the rest from the big automotive brands.

Cars.com started early to move its services to mobile. When the iPhone was launched in 2007, Cars.com was starting its mobile website. The company has been testing the waters with inventory, pricing and specifications.

The underlying mobile strategy: to develop products for the broadest possible audience and when a device/platform reaches critical mass, evaluate the potential value (consumer, advertiser and brand impact) and create a dedicated app as appropriate.

“As the devices got more sophisticated, in 2009-2010, we started with the iPhone app, functional tools and touchscreen optimization,” says Knitter, “and this is also when we decided to have our own internal teams working on mobile platforms. We needed our internal CTO to take charge and treat mobile platforms with as much consideration as the website. We now have 80 persons (out of 800 employees) dedicated to iPhone and iPad apps, Android apps and the mobile web site, working in two dedicated teams -- app and mobile web.”

Cars.com has made noticeable improvements to its mobile services since 2007. “Now we’re planning to optimize our mobile website for tablets, get more video, social, use voice input, and do more cross-platform measurement to understand better what works for advertising.”

Traffic is already quite impressive: the mobile site has an average of 11 million screenviews per month, the iPhone app has about 46,000 downloads per month, and Android, about 42,000 downloads per month.

But is this cannibalizing the existing website? “While we have seen some of our wired traffic shift to mobile properties, the majority has been incremental,” says Knitter. “Our audience is using both. Their preference changes throughout the day. We see wired site traffic lead during the workday and mobile site traffic during commuting time and at home in the mornings and evenings. Cars.com’s mobile traffic is about 4% higher on Saturday and Sunday than on the average weekday.”

Author

Valérie Arnould's picture

Valérie Arnould

Date

2012-04-16 22:43

Author information


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