The auto industry’s ongoing woes are paying off for some in the online ad industry. Vibrant Media, which sells in-text ads on a wide network of content Web sites (such as iVillage and FoxNews.com), reported 30 percent growth in auto spending during the first quarter.
John Sedlak, Vibrant’s senior vp, sales/strategic alliances, said that growth is expected to continue for the rest of ’09, resulting in $12–15 million in revenue from the car category.
Sedlak said that Vibrant’s IntelliTXT ads placements, which automatically appear when users scroll over select highlighted words on partner sites, are proving popular in this current economic climate, since they answer auto brands’ performance and branding needs. Vibrant only charges clients when users fully engage with their ads, which often feature rich media.
“The auto sector has been an important one for Vibrant for a number of years,” said Sedlak. “And what you’re seeing now is that many auto brands have become among the more sophisticated online marketers in terms of using the Web for both the lower funnel and upper funnel [of the purchase cycle]. They want to get someone to engage with their brand, and with IntelliTXT you get a captive audience with the power of search plus rich media.”
In addition, a major source of growth for Vibrant has been opportunistic import brands, which increased spending between 60–70 percent in Q1. “There is not an import CMO that isn’t looking to catch the Big Three flat-footed right now,” he said.
That’s not to say that Ford, and the bailout-seeking General Motors and Chrysler, have been inactive. Sedlak said spending from these brands is expected to climb “from low millions to significant millions” in ’09.