Commentary

CNet To Debut XCAR, Audi Exclusive Launch Sponsor

CNet this week is launching XCAR -- a premium video brand for car enthusiasts, VidBlog has learned. As part of a larger campaign to promote its TDI clean-diesel technology, Audi has signed on as XCAR’s exclusive launch sponsor through October.

As cars continue to look and operate more like digital gadgets, it’s no surprise that CNet is becoming more aggressive in its pursuit of car lovers. The CBS Interactive site is so firmly rooted in technology news and information, it should make it more attractive to tech-obsessed car brands from a marketing perspective. 

That was certainly the case with Audi, as Loren Angelo, director of marketing at Audi of America, told VidBlog. “We’re benefiting from their tech leadership,” Angelo said of CNet. “We were intrigued by that,” Angelo said of the site's unique editorial bent.

XCAR will become a centerpiece of CNet’s automotive coverage and will be distributed via its own platform, as well as its network of video partners.

A worldwide endeavor, XCAR will feature video, writing, and photography from editorial staff positioned various regions, including Australia, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

This is not CNet’s first foray into car coverage, the brand already publishes “Car Tech” reviews, which offer professional ratings and reviews of new automotive technology, along with Brian Cooley’s “On Cars,” which profiles the latest in car tech.

“We’ve been covering cars for a number of years now,” said Lindsey Turrentine, editor-in-chief of CNet. “What’s new is that we’re starting to focus on developing long-form premium content.”

With the addition of XCAR, however, CNet is now in a position to compete for a larger share of auto ad dollars, said Katie Kulik, senior vice president of sales at CNet. “We really want this to be considered for the upfront auto season,” she said of XCAR.

Audi’s Angelo said the brand will be featured in 15-second pre-roll ads and banners through October. According to Kulik, the Audi brand will also wrap around XCAR's editorial content.

“The tech-savvy audience drawn to the video content they are serving has a lot in common with the consumers eager to learn more about the range, fuel economy, refinement, and emission reductions provided by TDI,” Angelo added.

According to Angelo, Audi’s presence on XCAR is part of larger campaign for TDI, which will extend to other CBS Interactive properties, several auto-endemic brands, and a significant paid search effort. He declined, however, to attach a dollar figure to the effort.

In digital, Audi's ads will also appear on Slate.com and The Washington Post.com. In broadcast media, Audi plans to highlight the launch of its TDI clean diesel technology as the official sponsor of the prime time Emmys, as well as through media placement in "NFL Sunday Night Football."

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