Cars.com Launches National TV, Web Campaign

Cars.com this week kicked off a six-month national advertising campaign across major cable TV networks and their corresponding Web sites.

Touting the company’s “Find the right car for you” brand message, the campaign includes television spots on cable networks Discovery, TBS, TNT, USA and WGN. Cars.com will make a point of reaching sports enthusiasts, by sponsoring ESPN’s “Sports Center” and running ads during Major League Baseball, NBA, and PGA Golf events. Spots will also appear during automotive programs like “Overhaulin'” and “Rides.”

The online portion of the campaign will work in chorus with the television strategy, chiefly through display advertising on network Web sites, said Marvin Isling, cars.com’s manager of online marketing. The campaign will also include a limited paid search component in which ads on Google, Overture, and tier two networks are targeted by keywords related to television programs.

“With the online campaign, overall we’re looking to complement everything we’re doing with the offline campaign,” Isling said. “That means a consistent message building brand awareness and eventually driving a higher volume of qualified traffic to our site.”

Display ads will run in standard IAB sizes in prominent home page placements on such Web sites as ESPN.com and Discovery.com. On ESPN.com, the company also plans to run a streaming video commercial that will be viewable to ESPN Motion users only.

While targeting the male demographic by appealing to sports fans, cars.com is also making a point of advertising on TLC.com and FoodNetwork.com to reach a female demographic, Isling said.

The company aims to reach local consumers through a combination of promotions, leveraging cars.com’s partnerships with 200 regional newspapers, television stations, and their Web sites. The campaign will also include a limited amount of outdoor billboard and radio advertisements.

Cars.com will measure the success of the campaign through a combination of online and offline methods, said Kerri McLaughlin, a cars.com spokesperson.

“We measure the ultimate success of the brand campaign through weekly brand tracking to gauge awareness levels, brand consideration, and brand perception,” McLaughlin said. “Our search marketing and online partnerships are aimed at driving quality traffic. We measure their success based on the volume of traffic they produce and the conversion rates of that traffic.”

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