Cox’s AutoTrader.com, which reaches 15 million unique visitors per month, bills itself as the Google of auto search. For the most part, the visitors come from the URL, plus various affiliate relationships.
But now it is reaching out to potential car buyers in general via “AutoTrader.com Access,” a customized vertical network developed with Adify, which is also owned by Cox. The vertical network matches the sites on the basis of demographic, behavioral and geographic characteristics, and includes 40 local properties owned by Cox Media Group and Cox Communications, plus AskPatty.com, NADAGuides.com, AutoMart.com, TopGear.com, Care2.com and Greencar.com.
“By creating this network, AutoTrader.com can efficiently deliver our own highly engaged audience and, through the network, the highly targeted audiences that our advertisers also want to reach,” notes a press release, quoting Anne Steinhauer, VP of National Accounts. For instance, AutoTrader can target eco-conscious shoppers on specific environmentalist sites.
The move by AutoTrader to leverage in-house Cox properties, such as Adify, reflects a major change in corporate strategy. The company has historically pitted its properties against each other or made them compete for vendor deals on the open market, believing they’d develop more competitive offerings. But it is now working to maximize their usage and reach, a la Gannett and the properties owned by Gannett Interactive, which have also developed a network.
Kudzu, Cox’s directory-oriented effort, has been used in a similar fashion. It is now powering the local directories for all Cox TV’s 15 Web sites; the Cox High Speed Internet Service; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; and the Dayton Daily News. It is also implementing directories for Cox Radio’s 81 Web sites.