The company says its wireless program lets consumers: look at Cars.com's inventory of some two million new and used vehicles, including photos; use Kelley Blue Book's Used Car Values; make vehicle payments and read reviews; and use the site's dealer locator, which includes maps and directions.
Michael Kraut, VP/national advertising, says that, initially, advertisers will be consecutive, and that as the program develops with targeted advertising based on listing searches, Cars.com will host multiple advertisers simultaneously.
Lexus is the exclusive advertiser for one month*. "We have clients coming for the rest of the year, and for most cases our sponsorships are sold in multi-month increments," he says. "Right now, it's monthly exclusive advertising." Lexus will be followed by Honda and Hyundai.
Sharon Knitter, director of product management at Cars.com, says that when consumers click Lexus' mini ad banner appearing on their wireless device screen, they are taken to Lexus' own listings.
She says directing content such as research or reviews to wireless isn't sufficient because it doesn't reflect what consumers need when they are on the move. "We looked at what might people use when they aren't tethered to a computer. So we wanted to bring in listings as well as such content as reviews and calculators," she says.
While, per Knitter, the vast majority of car-shopping consumers still do major research at home, the wireless product is relevant to consumers near purchase, "who are, potentially, at one dealership, and see a car they haven't seen before and now can read reviews, study the value, then compare with other listings."
She adds that the company sees, generally, two kinds of consumers using Cars.com via wireless: "Those who are a lot closer to a purchase decision" and then people browsing listings away from home - perhaps commuting - though not necessarily actively shopping.
She says that, from April - when Cars.com did a soft launch of the product - to June, the wireless Cars.com audience doubled. "We are growing fast, and another thing I'm seeing that's interesting is that with the web site we tend to see fluctuation throughout the week and on the weekend. On the mobile site, it's growing consistently."
*Editor's note: The article was amended post-publication.