Ebay Motors has launched its first-ever foray into custom content -- an effort to boost the cachet of the eBay Motors brand and connect with auto enthusiasts and others with short-form Web-based shows about car customizing, featuring collectors, celebrities, and races. The programs are also bringing in automakers as sponsors on a per-episode basis.
In September, the Web shopping network's automotive division launched the first show, auto lifestyle series, "World’s Fastest Car Show" both on the eBay Motors Web site and on its mobile app. That was followed by "Mod Jobs," a series about how to customize vehicles, which launched this month.
The former, hosted by former Le Mans winner Justin Bell, mates road trips and other auto-focused adventures to celebrity interviews, car collections of people like Jay Leno, and others, and quiz-game elements where consumers get clues to a car, and can try to guess the model.
Mitch Gross, senior manager of advertising from eBay Motors, says that since September the company has run six episodes of "World's Fastest Car Show." He says the show is geared both to enthusiasts and a broader audience, while "Mod Jobs" is for the hard-core enthusiast. Each series ("World's Fastest..." is produced by Swirl.net in partnership with Justin Bell Productions, while "Mod Jobs" is via Benchmark Entertainment) has a dominant sponsor -- typically an automaker -- and each has a segment dedicated to a car review.
"We like to think it plays to our strength, with a marriage of commerce and content,” says Gross. “We have 14 million uniques per month, predominantly enthusiasts, so we target them and try to drive them to the experiences. We are also embracing social elements where we do things like allow the community to vote on, say, the paint scheme of a car. We are really trying to enable the auto brands to engage with our user base."
EBay Motors, which is in the midst of testing a new home-page design, gets five million impressions per day -- so driving traffic isn't a critical problem, per Gross. "The goal in first series is to ensure the experience is absolutely right before the big splash," he says of the program, which eBay will fund through 2012.
"It's really early, but there's been tremendous interest among OEMs," says Gross. "In the first couple of weeks we got 50,000 uniques with a soft launch, not a hard marketing push." He says eBay will promote "Mod Jobs" at the Specialty Equipment Makers Association show in Las Vegas in November.
"I think we have unique proposition, because our transaction side is massive business -- we sell a car every second, 10,000 per month on mobile along, and 500,000 parts. [The shows] are a way for us to further engage with our community and give them a reason to come back. With 'Mod Jobs' we are trying to support our transaction business, and being inspirational in how we deliver content."