Catzilla Focuses Search Efforts on Autos and Real Estate

Auto dealers and real estate brokers (and agents) are increasingly contending with mission creep for their Web needs that require them to have two or more Web sites. Part of the problem is that they must conform to standardized requirements. For instance, Ford, Toyota and Nissan dealers have a number of mandated requirements.

At the same time, local staffs are seeing to create an edge for search; put in promotions; manage services; and add multimedia features such as TV commercials, audio spots and images of inventory. Ultimately, any expectations that SEO-smart “microsites” can do it all may be unrealistic.

“It is a two Web site business,” says Catzilla CEO Alan Gunshor. “People need to get used to it.” Gunshor’s nine-person company does search optimization and creates guaranteed click packages for Google, Yahoo! and ValueClick — an interesting third player that really delivers, even if you work with them on a “blind” basis, says Gunshor.

Catzilla has been selling for 18 months and is specifically focusing on autos and real estate at the local level. The idea is that if it can crack the code for such intense verticals, other verticals, such as health care, legal and weddings, will fall into place down the line.

But Gunshor says Catzilla can’t allow itself to focus on the particulars of a dealer, or a broker. “We’re not into microsites. We are paid to confer a lead, so every link is designed to do that.” The company is currently working with 30 advertisers, mostly in the Bay Area, but also some regional and national plays. The average spend is about $5K per month.

According to Gunshor, the company has reduced spending by 35 percent for some advertisers. At the same time, it has been boosting leads, in some cases, by 50 percent. The differentiator, he says, is that advertisers “own” Catzilla’s lead generation process, rather than seeing “their” leads go to multiple sources — a situation he calls “rampant” among third-party sites.

In 2008, the company hopes to expand to other local markets. City managers are being initially hired for Los Angeles, with plans to add Chicago, Detroit and New York later in the year.

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