New York Times Revamps Auto Site to Woo Researchers

The New York Times has completed a six-month redesign of its online automotive section to increase reader time online with additional multimedia features.

The NYTimes.com auto site includes not only automotive news and video, but pricing information, reviews, safety and mechanical specifications. It also provides interactive photos of the vehicles, along with price quotes from local dealers and a dealer directory featuring Google Maps and driving directions.

The newspaper launched the revamped section to coincide with the New York International Auto Show going on April 6th to the 15th, and will permanently include a “Wheels” blog written by staff that was temporarily introduced during the previous Detroit Auto Show. And soon the Automobiles site will add comparison features for new and used vehicles, additional content from third party providers, and a rate and review feature by Gabriels Technology Solutions.

“We’re aggregating other reviews from other well known brands so you don’t need to go to Google to do 12 searches in automotive,” said Ira Silberstein, vice president of product develop for NYTimes.com. “By aggregating what our editors believe is quality content from other sites, and ensconcing our own reviews with our third party content, users will find it makes it very easy to start their research process. And you have the Times authority, so you know it’s a good place to be.”

The Times is attempting to provide a more complete avenue for potential automobile buyers to do their research, while keeping them on the site to increase advertising opportunities, according to Silberstein.

“Our perspective on the auto industry is they are looking for the in-market buyer,” he said. “By engaging our reader with all that different content we’ll be able to have a more engaged audience.”

Automotive analysts have noted that online car shoppers often overlook advertising presented to them, so any additional time on a site can be essential to reach the viewer.

“Around 30 percent of auto online consumers are claiming they’ve never been exposed to any auto online ads,” said Belis Aksoy, an associate analyst with Jupiter Research, who specializes in the auto industry. “This is going to give advertisers an opportunity, as the New York Times is one of the most visited newspapers. And as consumers [spend more time] on the Web sites, it will increase their attention to auto ads. This is good news for auto advertisers.”

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