Social/Digital Media

Carvana expands into 25th market: Chicago

PHOENIX - 

The 25th market for Carvana is its largest one yet.

The online used-vehicle retail platform announced expansion on Wednesday into Chicago, the company’s first market in Illinois where an estimated 13 million consumers in the greater Chicagoland area can now could get free, as-soon-as-next-day delivery of any vehicle from Carvana’s 7,300-plus unit inventory.

“Chicago is our most populated market to date,” Ernie Garcia, founder and chief executive officer of Carvana, said in a news release. “Not only is it the northernmost market we’ve launched in, it’s home to the third largest population in the country. We can’t wait to show them the new way to buy a car.”

As a part of its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission for its initial public offering this spring, Carvana elaborated about what it takes to expand into another market. After opening Atlanta in 2013, Carvana opened two markets in 2014, six in 2015 and 12 in 2016. Earlier this year, the company made moves into St. Louis and Philadelphia on its way to reaching the 25-market threshold.

“Our growth in retail units sold is driven by expansion into new markets and increased penetration in our existing markets,” Carvana said in its SEC filing. “We define a market as a metropolitan area in which we have commenced local advertising and offer free home delivery to customers with a Carvana employee and branded delivery truck.

“Opening a new market involves hiring a market operations manager and a team of customer advocates, connecting the market to our existing logistics network and initiating local advertising,” the company continued. “Each new market has typically required approximately $500,000 in capital expenditures, primarily related to the acquisition of one to two branded delivery trucks, a multi-car hauler to connect the market to our logistics network, and furniture, fixtures and equipment in a local office space.

“As a market scales, we may elect to build a vending machine in the market to improve fulfillment and further increase customer awareness,” Carvana added.

One of the primary ways Carvana broadens customer awareness is through its noteworthy car vending machines. If customers prefer to pick-up their vehicle personally, they can opt into Carvana’s “Fly and Drive” program where Carvana will subsidize $200 of airfare to a car vending machine location in the Texas cities of Austin, Dallas, Houston or San Antonio as well as Nashville, Tenn.

“Each new vending machine has required $4.5 million to $5.5 million of capital expenditures, depending on the number of stories in the vending machine tower and local market conditions,” Carvana said in the SEC filing.

To date, Carvana said it has delivered vehicles to customers in 47 states. The rundown of markets where Carvana now operates includes: Atlanta, Austin, Birmingham, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Hampton Roads (Va.), Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Memphis, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Richmond, San Antonio, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington D.C., and now Chicago.

“Our capital- and headcount-light expansion model has enabled us to increase our rate of market openings in each of the past four years,” Carvana said in the IPO paperwork.

To thank the early adopters in Chicago who purchased a vehicle prior to Wednesday, Carvana said will fully refund any delivery fee paid.

Autotrader joins Disney Pixar for promo with "Cars 3" cast

ATLANTA - 

Autotrader has launched a television advertising campaign with Disney Pixar's “Cars 3,” which includes a 30-second television commercial featuring members of the well-known cast that will debut on television during the 2017 NBA Playoffs on TNT.

"Collaborating with Disney Pixar's 'Cars 3' was a natural fit for Autotrader for more than the obvious reason of the spotlight our iconic brands share within the automotive space," Autotrader vice president of marketing Jessica Stafford said in a news release.

"Much like the Cars franchise, Autotrader shares a personal connection with people of all ages and at all life stages, and we feel this is reflected in the playful content we developed with the Disney and Pixar teams to further drive excitement for our brand and the upcoming premiere of 'Cars 3'."

The new commercial encourages viewers to find the car that best fits their lifestyle and concludes with the tagline – "Every car has a personality. Find the one that fits yours at Autotrader."

Autotrader said the ad targets key demographic groups such as such as Millennials, Hispanics and families.

Additionally, the campaign will be presented on Hulu, ESPN Deportes Radio, and Autotrader’s social media channels.

The 30-second commercial, titled "Every Car Has a Personality," is currently available on YouTube.  

Reynolds UK expands suite of retailing tools for dealers

BIRMINGHAM, England - 

Reynolds and Reynolds in the U.K. announced that it has expanded its suite of retailing tools for dealers.

"The customer-dealer relationship continues to change," Reynolds U.K. Automotive managing director Adele Feeney said in a news release. "Over the past several years, we have expanded our suite of retailing tools for dealers. These tools are helping dealers improve operating performance and provide a more engaging and efficient customer experience."

Most notable among the company’s latest set of solution additions is its new Contact Advantage tool.

Contact Advantage provides dealerships and OEMs with a comprehensive tool that manages complete sales cycles and allows them "to take their customers through the entire sales process – from model selection, color and specification configuration, pricing and order forms – all in one, simple-to-use, interactive process," Reynolds U.K. said.

According to Feeney, the new tool is available to all dealers, whether or not they use the Reynolds dealership management system.

"We believe Contact Advantage is the premier showroom CRM solution for keeping track of dealership leads and maximizing sales potential," Feeney added.

Other new retailing tools Reynolds U.K. has also recently introduced include Aptus Websites, Reynolds Integrated Telephone System (RITS) and iMakeNews.

Aptus Websites, a DMS-neutral website platform, allows dealers to connect with consumers at any time and on any device.

RITS, a dealership-wide, customer experience management system combines phone features with dealer's instant customer data from the DMS in order to create more effective phone conversations with consumers, according to Reynolds U.K.

iMakeNews is a digital newsletter that is designed to build customer loyalty and retail action via engaging content. The new tool also delivers unique ROI metrics which aim to help dealers understand consumers’ current buying decisions so they can influence their buying decisions in the future.

"For dealers, customer service has never been as important as it is now," Feeney said. "The customer now initially goes to a dealer's website before walking into the showroom armed with information and knowing what the competition is offering. Therefore, managing the entire sales process to create a rewarding customer experience at every touch point inside and outside the four walls of the dealership is becoming a necessity, not a luxury."

For more information about each of the retailing tools now offered by Reynolds U.K., visit www.reyrey.co.uk/DMS.

Cancer & AIDS research foundation to honor Facebook auto director

NEW YORK - 

The T.J. Martell Foundation for Leukemia, Cancer and AIDS Research has announced that it will honor Facebook's U.S. Automotive director Stephanie Latham at the Women of Influence Awards and Luncheon next week.

Latham, a breast cancer survivor and passionate supporter of the cause, will join five other women in accepting their awards during the foundation's fifth annual event at the New York Plaza Hotel on  May 12 at 11:30 a.m.

“The awards celebration honors six outstanding women who have achieved tremendous goals in both in their business and personal life and will benefit ovarian and breast cancer research,” the foundation said in a news release. 

Latham joined Facebook in 2011 and in her current role as head of its U.S. Automotive team, she works alongside marketers and agencies to forge solutions across platforms that boost brand awareness in efforts to sell more vehicles.

She also held leadership positions on Facebook’s Retail, Financial Services and Restaurants teams before leading on the Automotive team.

Prior to joining Facebook, Latham served as the executive director of Account Service at the Barbarian Group, where she managed the GE, CNN and Google accounts.

Latham received her MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and a B.A. from the University of Virginia.

She currently resides in Northern California with her husband and their 2-year-old daughter.

For more information about the 2017 Women of Influence Awards and Luncheon's other honorees and to obtain tickets for the event, visit tjmfwomenofinfluence.org.

EVOX Images releases new edition of VR app RelayCars

RANCHO DOMINGUEZ, Calif. - 

EVOX Images has launched the 6.0 version of its free virtual reality app RelayCars, which features an expansive and high-quality VR automotive library that allows users to tour the interior and exterior of more than 700 vehicles with Samsung Gear VR.

Since its inception, the app has been downloaded more than 900,000 times, according to EVOX.

“We are excited to bring consumers the most comprehensive automotive VR application on the market and enhance the way people buy cars,” EVOX chief executive officer David Falstrup said in a news release. “Our goal is to make you feel like we just put you in the driver’s seat of your favorite car. RelayCars 6.0 features coverage for every model in our vast library, giving consumers access to an unprecedented number of vehicles, completely free on the app store.”

Through six different virtual showrooms, the app lets users explore more than 700 make and models that have been on the market since 2015.

EVOX utilizes its 360-degree imaging to power its new virtual reality technology.

Currently, it supplies automotive imaging to more than 20,000 dealer websites and the top automotive websites, according to the company.

“Within the past year, the EVOX VR team has extended technology offerings with the introduction of showrooms, virtual cinema, vehicle configurator capability, VR product clinics, and more,” EVOX said. “These new virtual shopping features will benefit dealers by building customer engagement and driving store traffic.”

RelayCars 6.0 is now available on the Oculus Samsung Gear VR Store.

To learn more, visit evoxvr.com on your smartphone, and view with Google Cardboard and similar VR mobile headsets.

TIME’s TheDrive.com adopts new tool for ‘digital-first’ car buyers

NEW YORK and DETROIT - 

The website of the multi-platform brand ran by TIME’s content and creative collective The Foundry — TheDrive.com — has added a new research and shopping page named SHOP, which instantly gives users access to the latest new and used-car data and connects prospective buyers with nearby dealers.

Currently, the new digital innovation integrated across The Drive’s network can offer car buyers data and online pricing for more than 300 makes and models.

“This initiative starts with the user’s needs at the core. With this new car research platform, users can start by reading feature articles about cars and car culture, then go from imagining themselves behind the wheel straight to pricing models and connecting with dealers,” Eric Goeres, general manager of The Drive, said in a news release.

“It’s car enthusiast catnip — doubly so for those in-market.”

On SHOP, not only can users find detailed information regarding vehicles’ make, model and trim, they can also both browse inventories and manage any of pricing and quote requests, according to TIME.

The newly integrated platform was built in collaboration with automotive digital media company Detroit Trading.

“We worked closely with management and brand leadership from Time Inc. and The Drive to develop an industry-leading automotive portal for its audience,” said Pete Bonner, co-Founder and executive vice president of Detroit Trading.

“We feel this new online resource, combined with real-time phone support from our Detroit-based segment specialists, will make the process of shopping for a new vehicle responsive, informative and, most importantly, fun! We work on a lot of cutting-edge projects at Detroit Trading, but we’re especially thrilled to be part of the exciting things happening at TIME and The Drive.”

TIME said The Drive users have access to an average of 4.5 million units of used vehicle inventory and one-click connections to an online dealer network spanning all 50 U.S. states.

“The deal comes at a time when the American auto industry just posted a record year in sales and is increasingly technology driven, with consumers doing more research online than ever,” TIME said. “The Drive pursues a younger, more mobile, more affluent audience with its broad scope of “new enthusiast” editorial coverage—an expansion of traditional horsepower, reviews and wrenching automotive journalism that includes future tech, policy, aviation, infrastructure, design, gear, military and entertainment and celebrity coverage.”

The Foundry launched The Drive in 2015, it publishes a wide range of editorial content to a mobile audience of young, tech-forward auto buffs, according to TIME.

The Drive YouTube channel has almost 2 million subscribers and its videos average 5 million views each month.

CarGurus debuts 1st TV ad campaign in 3 markets

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - 

CarGurus launched the company’s inaugural mass-media awareness advertising campaign with two new television ads it debuted on Monday.

Over the next 12 weeks, the company said 30-second commercials are scheduled to air on network and cable television in the cities of Nashville, Tenn., Austin, Texas and Denver, in addition to a national YouTube campaign ad.

The three test markets were tapped to enable dynamic campaign measurement, according to the company.

CarGurus created two humorous ads, one titled Detective and the other, Guru.

The concept of the two ads is that while consumers may feel they need detective skills or a guru to overcome the complexities of the car shopping process, CarGurus makes it fast and easy.

“CarGurus helps millions of consumers find great car deals and connect with top-rated local dealers, but many car shoppers still haven’t heard of us,” Sarah Welch, senior vice president of consumer marketing at CarGurus, said in a news release. “We’ve built a compelling solution that simplifies the car shopping process, enabling consumers to save time and money. We are excited to test into a channel that gives us more room to tell that story.”

The car research and shopping platform announced it teamed up with advertising agency Plum14 and director Nick Spooner of The Sweet Shop and Chirp Films for creative development and production, and Ocean Media will manage media planning.

“The company will measure TV’s performance as a driver for brand awareness and incremental traffic acquisition to inform a longer term offline marketing strategy,” the company said. “CarGurus has no plans to scale back its investments in digital marketing channels, but rather will test mass media as a complement and hopefully an accelerator to its proven digital strategy.”

The TV ads and YouTube commercial can be viewed here and through the window at the top of this page.

Study: Cars.com, Kelley Blue Book named top sites by consumers

COSTA MESA, Calif. - 

When it comes to shopping online, consumers say Cars.com is the best automotive third-party desktop site and that Kelley Blue Book is the best mobile site, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Automotive Website Evaluation Study Cross-Device report.

The study examines which current site functions and designs car buyers say is most effective when researching vehicles.

J.D. Power evaluated automotive third-party websites overall site function and the relevance of multiple site features to online shoppers.

In January, the consumer insights provider surveyed 8,525 new and used-car shoppers who visited automotive manufacturer websites’ shopping for a vehicle within the next 24 months.

"Over the past five years, we've seen an explosion of innovation that has been employed by third-party automotive sites, among others, to guide automotive shoppers through the process," Thomas King, vice president of PIN OEM operations, media & marketing at J.D. Power, said in a news release. "However, in the end, it always comes back to content and we have found that the top-performing sites are better at delivering key information on different devices."

Following Cars.com as the top ranking desktop site is Edmunds, followed by Carfax.

CarGurus and The Car Connection trail Kelly Blue Book as the second- and third-ranked mobile sites.

Seventy-six percent of highly satisfied shoppers on third-party websites say they "definitely will" visit the website in the future, and 75 percent say they "definitely will" recommend the site.

Navigation, appearance, information/content and speed are the four website satisfaction areas the study analyzed.

Website satisfaction is lowest for navigation.

The study finds that car buyers on a desktop computer significantly enjoy their experience navigating automotive websites more than mobile users.

Desktop evaluations totaled 4,259 and mobile evaluations totaled 4,266.

To read more information about the study and its methodology, visit http://www.jdpower.com/resource/us-automotive-website-evaluation-study-cross-device.

IAA delivers enhanced VDP to streamline data for customers

WESTCHESTER, Ill. - 

Insurance Auto Auctions announced on Wednesday that it has adopted and launched an updated vehicle details page on IAAI.com to streamline customer access to vehicle information.

The new page has up to 320 additional VIN details and comprehensive Hollander Interchange parts data, which helps car buyers estimate vehicle value more quickly and make better-informed bidding and buying decisions, according to IAA.

"Our online tools are built for our customers, by our customers. Their feedback and needs are the primary drivers and designers of these enhancements," Jeanene O'Brien, IAA senior vice president of global marketing, said in a news release. "By streamlining the vehicle details pages, we are able to facilitate an unmatched buying experience and deliver better information and better value."

To improve the user experience IAA said the page has a newly unified layout and added mobile functionality.

The enhanced page also loads 60 percent faster and uses 50 percent less network data.

IAA said customers can now maximize their search time and more efficiently choose the vehicles they may want to bid.

Additionally, registered buyers get unique data. Certain information can be revealed or hidden depending on a customer’s individual needs.

"Delivering a differentiated customer experience through data and technology is a strategic priority for IAA," said John Kett, chief executive officer and president of IAA. "IAA provides our customers with rapid access to the most complete vehicle information possible, enabling them to bid and buy with greater confidence and convenience."

To view the newly enhanced page, visit https://iaa-auctions.com/vehicle-details.

Car description words most enticing to key demographics

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. - 

Particular car shoppers respond better or worse to different words when debating which car to buy, according to new research released by CDK Global on Tuesday.

The company’s latest edition in its Language of Closers series provides demographic specific entail that is valuable to dealers seeking out ways to most effectively describe inventory on their vehicle description pages.

“Our research examined the words that would eventually lead buyers of different demographics to leave a review website and head to a dealership site,” Jason Kessler, lead data scientist at CDK Global, said in a news release. “In our most recent analysis, we were able to pinpoint specific words that shed valuable light on what vehicle traits matter most to women, Generation-X consumers, recent college graduates, and parents."

CDK found a number of words that it says resonate with multiple demographics heavily.

For example, the research revealed that mentioning the word "power" attracted several groups. CDK suggests it helps to illustrate the experience of driving a vehicle in a relatable way.

“Certain words fell flat and failed to lead prospective buyers to a dealership site,” the provider of integrated information technology and digital marketing solutions said.

Women responded negatively to “bigger,” Generation-Xers would rather read "performance" over "design" and most parents fell that both "sound" and "tech" were low priorities compared to others.

Below is a list of the top and low performing words associated with four demographics that CDK highlights.

WOMEN
Top: drive, power, trip, comfortable, luxury

Low: bought, transmission, owned, bigger, cargo

GEN-X
Top: truck, power, luxury, package, performance

Low: back, seat, design, built, difference

COLLEGE GRADS
Top: buy, work, truck, power, highway

Low: company, designed, inside, warranty, light

PARENTS
Top: truck, leased, row, nice, purchase

Low: sounds, buying, control, tech, company

"As a leading provider of websites and digital advertising for dealers and OEMs, we are always looking for the best ways to help our customers bring the right buyers into their dealership. By making subtle changes to the language used on vehicle description pages, dealers can help customers easily identify cars that they both connect with and fit their lifestyle needs," Kessler added. "Ultimately, these changes will prime both dealers and customers for success."

For more information about The Language of Closers, visit http://www.cdkglobal.com/promo/language-of-closers-reviews.