Cars.com is launching its fourth consecutive annual sponsorship of "Saturday Afternoon College Football" on ESPN.
The sponsorship, which runs through the first weekend in December, will feature spots from Cars.com's current campaign and "Sponsored by Cars.com" mentions throughout games. Cars.com's national campaign began with a 60-second ad in Super Bowl XLIII.
To kick off the new sponsorship, Cars.com is running a sweepstakes for its dealer/advertisers in which dealers can enter for the chance to win one of several prizes, including a grand-prize trip for two to the National College Football Championship Game in Pasadena, Calif. in January.
The campaign is backed by the local promotions on Cars.com's affiliate network of 175 newspapers, TV stations and their Web sites, including online properties of the Dallas Morning News, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald and Washington Post.
Carolyn Crafts, Cars.com's vice president of marketing, tells Marketing Daily the company's TV buy is across the sports network. "We have a comprehensive buy on ESPN and will have some online presence on a numbers of different sites," she says. "We will have multiple spots in each Saturday afternoon game, including on-screen scoreboard and billboard branding."
Said Cars.com president Mitch Golub in a statement: "Sponsorships such as this combined with online traffic-generation initiatives, local market promotion and continuous product improvements" have helped drive a 10% increase in leads to its dealer advertisers this year, despite the economic downturn.
The Chicago-based division of Classified Ventures, LLC reports listings of 2.5 million new and used cars from around 15,000 dealers and private-party sellers. The company says it gets over 10 million car shoppers to Cars.com each month.
Last year saw the largest year-over-year increase in online shopping since 2001, per J.D. Power and Associates: 75% of new-vehicle buyers used the Internet to shop last year, versus 70% in 2007.
In its Dealer Satisfaction with Online Buying Services Study, J.D. Power said automotive dealers gave AutoTrader.com the highest marks for online new-vehicle lead generation for a second consecutive year. Cars.com came in second in that study (followed by Dealix and AutoUSA), but was first in used-car lead generation.
AutoTrader.com this year doubled its media exposure by adding ESPN/ ABC to its media mix. The buy put AutoTrader.com on "Monday Night Football" on ESPN; college football on ESPN and ABC; NASCAR Sprint Cup on ESPN and ABC and Major League Baseball broadcasts on ESPN and on ESPN SportsCenter airings on Saturday nights.
AutoTrader.com's current ad buy -- both ad units and brand integration -- includes the NBA on TNT, MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Spike TV. AutoTrader also advertises during NFL games, as well as the Daytona 500 broadcast and Major League Baseball events, including the All-Star game, the playoffs and the World Series.