Consumer automotive research and market site Cars.com has launched a free iPhone shopping application that searches dealer inventories and private-party listings to locate vehicles for sale. The app, which also works on the iPod Touch and upcoming iPad, can be downloaded from the App Store on iTunes.
The Chicago-based company says about 5% of visits to Cars.com come by way of mobile devices and that about a third of those are from iPhones. Per Cars.com, mobile is also a critical platform for advertisers looking for new ways to reach ready-to-buy shoppers.
The company's 2010 ad campaign spotlights the new application, starting with a 60-second TV spot in the Super Bowl that ends with the main character at a dealership researching auto inventory with the app before speaking with the dealer.
This is the third year that Cars.com has advertised in the Super Bowl. Last year, Cars.com's ad, extending its "Confidence" ad platform, focused on the life story of a fictional guy with a lot of confidence. The new one, via DDB Chicago, is about Timothy Richman, also over-laden with confidence, and with the solution to everything. Tag: "Confidence Comes Standard."
The company will run the new spot for the month following the Bowl, on ESPN programming, including "Pardon the Interruption" and "NFL Live," as well as NBA and NCAA basketball games.
The year-long campaign also includes Web videos that go live Monday via home page takeovers of ESPN.com, CNN.com, CBSSports.com, YouTube and Yahoo Cars.com, which did pre-game search-engine marketing, and mobile advertising will continue the tactic after the game, as well. The company says it will also run regional TV and print efforts to support. A Cars.com spokesperson adds that the firm will do new TV creative for the campaign following the Super Bowl.
He tells Marketing Daily that mobile is "huge for us and has been a focal point for the last two Super Bowl ads we have run." He says mobile is also the Cars.com's fastest-growing segment. "When you are talking about 10 million uniques to the site per month, 5% is a significant number, but it grows extremely fast, so we saw a big gain on this post-Super Bowl last year. Also, if you think about how people are shopping for cars, a lot of people access data from a dealer lot so they can gather information for negotiating; it's a huge advantage."
Per the spokesperson, Cars.com's focus on mobile access to the site and data via such goodies as the iPhone app makes sense because it is still a competitive advantage. "Not too many competitors have mobile platforms, and no one has an iPhone app," he says.
Actually, Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. launched a "Car and Driver Buyer's Guide" to the iPhone and iPod app earlier this year. The app has new-car information, news, and buying advice among other services. That program is one of five launched by the company this year. Nationwide Insurance has something called Cartopia, launched in November. That program for iPhone and iPod app lets consumers file post-accident claims.