Chicago—March 8, 2009—Despite the economic climate, Cars.com drove an all-time record number of leads to advertising dealers in the month of February. Emails, phone calls and internet chat conversations were up 3 percent over February 2008. This helped dealers to identify and connect with prospects in a challenging automotive retail market.
Consumer car shopping activity for used cars and specifically certified pre-owned vehicles has been a key factor in driving the record leads on the site. Year to date, leads on certified pre-owned vehicles are up 24 percent over 2008.
"In a month where automotive sales were weak, these numbers tell us that those shoppers who are in-market are going online to decide what and where to buy," said Cars.com president Mitch Golub. "The internet is more than ever a critical step in the shopping process and the most efficient marketing spend for a dealer. At this time in the economy, Cars.com is thrilled to continue to drive the highest levels of value for our dealer partners and to deliver the tools and products they need to engage with in-market, ready-to-buy shoppers."
Cars.com offers a number of advertising programs designed to help dealers connect with its audience of in-market buyers. The site's certified advertising program is proving to be a highly effective way to market and sell certified inventory. "As shoppers in this market seek quality and reliability without a new-car price, it is more important than ever for dealers to aggressively market their certified inventories," said Dennis Galbraith, vice president of advertising products at Cars.com. "We work with nearly every manufacturer to help their dealers successfully do this on Cars.com."
Cars.com is also helping to connect dealers with ready-to-buy shoppers through the launch of innovative new tools such as online chat. Cars.com added its DealerChat product last month as a no-cost option for its advertising packages to help dealers actively engage with car buyers searching their listings. "Already we are seeing fantastic results," Galbraith said. "We've had many dealers tell us they sold cars through DealerChat within a few hours of activating it."
In addition to driving prospects in the form of email, phone and chat leads, Cars.com is also driving traffic directly to the showroom floor. A recent study conducted by Synovate found that one-third of Cars.com shoppers go directly to the dealership after visiting the site without first sending a phone or email lead.
Cars.com is the leading destination for online car shoppers, offering credible, easy-to-understand information from consumers and experts to help buyers formulate opinions on what to buy, where to buy and how much to pay for a car. With comprehensive pricing information, side-by-side comparison tools, photo galleries, videos, unbiased editorial content and a large selection of new- and used-car inventory, Cars.com puts millions of car buyers in control of their shopping process with the information they need to make confident buying decisions.
Launched in June 1998, Cars.com is a division of Classified Ventures, LLC, which is owned by leading media companies, including Belo (NYSE: BLC), Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI), Tribune Company and The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO).