MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL SWITCHES TO CARS.com

By: Staff Reports

Company Was Using PowerAdz’s CarCast


Journal Interactive has signed with cars.com to power the
automobile classifieds of JSOnline.com, the Milwaukee Journal-
Sentinel’s Web site, and OnWisconsin.com, a regional portal.

At first glance, it seems to be a new-media partnership of the
garden variety, but Journal Interactive’s choice of vendor goes
deeper, involving a switch from CarCast.com, a product of
PowerAdz.com. Journal Communications Inc., the parent company of
Journal-Sentinel and Journal Interactive, is an investor
in PowerAdz.com.

Josh Phillips, online classifieds manager at Journal Interactive,
was relieved that the parent company had no problem with the
switch to cars.com. Phillips, who has been at Journal Interactive
for one year, said that CarCast couldn’t handle JSOnline.com’s
market size. As a result, “We haven’t pursued dealers in six
months,” he said.

According to Phillips, dealers were spending their dollars at
other auto Web sites that functioned better. With CarCast.com,
searching sometimes took 10 minutes since traffic was too much
for the site to handle, said Phillips. JSOnline.com’s auto
classified vertical has been getting 60,000 page views a month
for the past nine months – a figure Phillips admits he’s not
happy with.

“I don’t have any idea why they made that decision,” said
CarCast.com Product Manager John O’Malley, who said he was
perplexed by Phillips’ remarks. O’Malley said CarCast handles
larger markets than Milwaukee such as Dallas and Orange County,
Calif. According to O’Malley, the 16 Milwaukee dealers on
JSOnline.com’s auto section were getting 35,000 individual car
views a month and 650 leads a month. He thinks those are good
numbers for a market of Milwaukee’s size.

“There were some issues with speed a year ago, but not since
January last year,” said Bruce McEwing, director of marketing at
PowerAdz.com. And according to O’Malley’s records, there were no
calls with complaints in the last six months.

But Phillips set out to get dealers’ business back by doing a
measured study of the vendors available in the automobile
classified space. “Bottom line is that we couldn’t put out
another product that put egg on our face,” he said.

Phillips looked into Pentawave and several others. He also called
newspapers to ask them which vendors were creating revenue.
Another option was building a system in-house, but Phillips
quickly discovered that would be too costly.

Phillips settled on cars.com because it has successfully powered
larger newspapers’ automobile classifieds. Another advantage was
the affiliation with a national brand such as cars.com.

For cars.com, Dan Donaghy, senior vice president of corporate
development at Classified Ventures, said, “Anytime we sign up an
affiliate, particularly a market the size of Milwaukee, it helps
us fill out the footprint of our network nationally.”

That footprint is now growing beyond its initial six investors
that have 107 of their 134 sites live with cars.com. JSOnline.com
is the fifth non-investor-related affiliate to sign with
cars.com, Donaghy said.

The transition

In moving a newspaper Web site from one classified system to
another, Donaghy looks first at whether the affiliate is building
sites for dealers or polling the dealers’ inventory.

“It takes about a good 30 days to get somebody switched over,” he
said. The biggest hurdle involves testing data from the front-end
classified system to make sure the systems are compatible.

Cars.com also trains employees from the affiliate sites for
several days. And then there’s the exchange in graphics for co-
branding.

Donaghy admits that in the past, cars.com thought it would be a
big hurdle to pull sites away from investors in its competition.
DenverPost.com is another site that switched to cars.com, despite
parent company MediaNews’s investment in competitor AdOne.

JSOnline.com and OnWisconsin.com officially switch to cars.com on
Feb. 7. Until then, the beta version is up and running at
http://onwisconsin.cars.com.

Journal Communications will continue to use CarCast.com for some
of its sites. CNI, a division of Journal Communications
consisting of 23 smaller newspapers, is powered by Zwire! and
will continue to use CarCast.com.



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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