Autobytel Rolls Forward With Video

After several months of testing, automotive content network Autobytel is rolling out streaming video banners across its sites, which include Autobytel.com, Autoweb.com, Carsmart.com, Autosite.com and Car.com. The initiative is an effort to grab more of carmakers’ advertising budgets, by allowing them to easily repurpose television ads online.

The roll-out is a development of the company’s CarTV division, which produces original video content for the sites and provides the technology behind the streaming advertising offering. CarTV became a part of Autobytel with the April acquisition of Stoneage Media. At the time of the purchase, the company said CarTV would be an important part of its advertising growth strategy as broadband adoption grows.

Currently, ads appear on the home pages and the research areas on the company’s various sites. Both audio and video begin automatically, without user initiation. After spots play, users can replay them or click-through to get more information. Autobytel wouldn’t divulge the average CPM it charges its advertisers for the video units.

“It’s been extraordinarily positive, particularly when you can see right away whether the advertising works,” said EVP and chief marketing officer Andrew Donchak. “If someone comes to our site and they see this ad and it’s doing a good job for them, the page views related to that brand go up almost immediately.” Donchak says the company gives advertisers metrics on how ad views affect user behavior on its site.

Donchak wouldn’t say how many impressions the company had served, but said the company delivered nearly 3,500 hours of video in November, and has already surpassed that in the first weeks of December.

The company plans to add video to brand research pages and vehicle category pages in the future. It also plans to offer sponsored mini-sites, which visitors would be invited to enter when they’re researching a competitive vehicle.

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