Gen-X, Millennial Digital Opps: Cars.com focuses on online video ads
We told you last year about Cars.com decreasing ad spend because it had developed more efficient techniques. This is a result of Cars.com's new digital video marketing program called FUEL, per its Q4 2020 earnings report. FUEL is described as a "unique high ROI targeted video advertising solution." Large national TV campaigns tend to be wasteful as only a small percentage of the population are shopping for a car at any given time. FUEL apparently gives dealers the ability to only target people currently searching for a new car. In other news, Cars.com hired Chris Dargis as growth marketing VP in January 2021 from Talbots, where he served as eCommerce and customer marketing SVP.
Per Pathmatics, Cars.com earned 189.8m impressions through Facebook ads (32%), desktop video ads (30%), mobile display ads (21%), Instagram ads (9%) and desktop display ads (8%). It placed the majority (73%) of these ads site direct onto sites such as facebook.com, youtube.com, instagram.com, draftkings.com and autotrader.com. It placed the remainder (27%) through a variety of indirect channels onto sites such as draftkings.com, yahoo.com, kohls.com, modelmayhem.com and cargurus.com. It spent around $1m on digital display ads YTD, a 10% decrease from $1.1m spent during the same time period of 2020. Full-year spend equaled $5.6m in 2020, just 37% of the $15m spent in 2019.
According to iSpot, Cars.com spent around $4.6m on national TV ads in 2020, just 39% of the $16m spent in 2019. In 2020, it placed ads during programming such as "College Football," "College Football Scoreboard," "The Match: Champions for Charity," "Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks" and "When Sharks Attack." It has not aired an ad in this channel so far this year.
Sellers-- Cars.com mainly targets Gen-X and millennial men. Traditionally, it spent large sums on national TV ads, but not it mainly utilizes digital channels. It does still invest in TV ads, but it will likely wait until the end of the year to run a TV campaign. It also invests in print ads, per Kantar. Sellers should reach out offering primarily digital ad space.
Agency & martech readers-- Cars.com works with media buying planning AOR OMD. I recommend looking for opportunities elsewhere for the time being as this company seems taken care of.