NBC Digital Shifts into High Gear

NBC Digital Networks has tapped High Gear Media, a publisher of automotive digital media, to develop original content for its online properties, Online Media Daily has learned. In addition, High Gear has added Autotrader.com to its automotive content syndication network so users can access High Gear's "Bottomline" reviews.

Of huge importance, the agreement allows AutoTrader to create additional ad inventory, according to Hesky Kutscher, CEO of High Gear Media. "Our platform provides deep access into niche sites by providing multiple entry points into horizontal and vertical content," Kutscher said.

High Gear Media's editorial team analyzes reviews from such sources as Kelley Blue Book and Consumer Reports, and then weighs in with their own expert opinion to create a comprehensive review of each car. The company operates 38 automotive properties, including TheCarConnection.com, GreenCarReports.com, MustangBlog.com, AllCarsElectric.com and AllAboutPrius.com. Headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., High Gear -- formerly known as the Car Advisory Network -- received its Series A funding from Accel Partners and Greylock Partners.

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Connecting marketers directly with "niche audiences in their sweet spot" is NBC Digital Networks' reason for being, according to its Vice President Devin Johnson.

Last year, NBC Universal's NBCU Digital unit acquired a 35% stake in auto-focused Web site and VOD channel DriverTV for roughly $6 million.

The deal included rights to acquire a majority stake in DriverTV, along with an option to buy the company outright, at some future date.

Radical Media, a programming and advertising production company, still owns a majority stake in DriverTV.

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