Driving Traffic to Auto Dealers

With auto sales at depressed levels–and classified ads with them–, the car shopping site owned by five newspaper chains, says its traffic is surging. said in January potential buyer contacts with its advertisers increased 20% over January 2008, when it was setting traffic records.

And after its commercials ran on Super Bowl XLIII on Feb. 1, “the site saw a surge in February traffic,” it reported.

The ad, “Lifetime of Confidence,” reached more than 98 million viewers, and, the company claims “also broke through with viewers.” It noted it ranked No. 6 in the USA Today Ad Meter. The point of the ad was that can help shoppers prepare to buy a car with the research tools and advice needed to make a purchase decision. said the Super Bowl ad also drove traffic to the its mobile application, which was featured in the spot. “On top of record traffic to the mobile site throughout January, daily page views shot up an additional 43% the week after the Super Bowl,” said.

“At a time when the automotive industry is dominated by bad news, we are thrilled to deliver positive results for our advertisers and connect them with qualified, in-market shoppers when they need it most,” President Mitch Golub said in a statement. “There is currently pent-up consumer demand for car buying, and this record site activity demonstrates how our marketing efforts are drawing these consumers closer to purchase.”

Golub said the Super Bowl buy was “just the beginning of a year-long effort to keep top-of-mind with shoppers and drive results to our advertisers.”

The site’s marketing plan includes sponsorships such as ESPN Saturday Afternoon College Football.

Launched in June 1998, is a division of Classified Ventures, LLC, which is owned by Belo, Gannett Co. Inc., The McClatchy Company Tribune Company and The Washington Post Company.