Cars.com will spin off from media company TEGNA into a separate automotive marketplace and begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange June 1. The parent company announced Thursday that the board of directors approved the separation, which will create two separate businesses.
Dave Lougee, former executive at KUSA-9News in Denver, will become CEO of TEGNA, formerly Gannett Broadcasting.
Preparing for the shift, Dave Domm, senior director of product development at Cars.com, joined the company late last year. The serial entrepreneur and former New York investments banker has big plans for the online marketplace founded in June 1998, with a focus on rapidly changing consumer behavior.
Domm said Cars.com won't move away from search or display ads running across Google's network, but wants to "innovate within ads" and provide customers with custom experiences.
"We realize there's only so much we can do with ads, but we plan to develop native and responsive ads that blend in with the Cars DMA, he said during a conversation earlier this week.
Since the future relies on a better customer experience, Domm said Cars.com developers are building machine learning and predictive analysis technology into products using nearly 20 years of data that the site continues to collect. One tool is a calculator that can tell the owner of a 2004 Toyota Corolla whether it makes financial sense to pay $1,000 to fix the vehicle or buy a new one based on age, millage and a variety of other data. The calculation requires certain information including average trade-in value, make, model, year, and depreciation value. It makes predictions based on trends and historical metrics.
Cars.com also wants to build new ways for younger generations to connect with automotive brands and car dealerships. "We realize that younger users -- Millennials -- are less prone to fill out a traditional lead form or pick up the phone and talk with a dealership," he said. "They would rather text on a mobile device or interact through Facebook Messenger."
That shift has Cars.com experimenting with bots, a technology more intuitive to 18- to-35-year-olds, although Domm declined to define exactly how it works or the responses received during the test phase.
The shift for the company means more than updating technology and using its data. In November 2016, Cars.com announced the appointment of Brooke Skinner Ricketts to CMO. Skinner Ricketts most recently served as vice president of brand and design at Avant, and prior to that held the position head of brand strategy at Twitter.