AutoWeb pay-per-click ad startup to expand in Detroit, begin hiring

Autobytel is an early investor in firm

Angel Gambino, founder of The Alchemists Collective LLC

DETROIT -- A Miami-based automotive advertising startup is expanding in Detroit with the launch of its pay-per-click ad platform.

AutoWeb Inc. is hiring account managers and account executives, said Angel Gambino, founder of The Alchemists Collective LLC, an economic development firm working to build business in Detroit.

The new hires (a specific number wasn't disclosed) will complement the management team it's building in Detroit, Gambino said.

AutoWeb hired longtime automotive advertising executive Lon Bollenbacher as chief revenue officer. Bollenbacher was formerly automotive director for San Francisco-based digital marketing firm Kontera Technologies Inc. He also held sales leadership roles at Search Optics LLC, Autodata Solutions Inc., and Yahoo Inc.

AutoWeb also hired Elizabeth Hanft as director of accounts. She's a former account manager at Google Inc. and Autotrader.com.

Gambino said AutoWeb may relocate its headquarters in Detroit in the future.

The startup service, founded in 2013, analyzes Web traffic and adjusts advertiser costs accordingly. It also presents automotive ads only to Internet users who have engaged in automotive sales searches, such as entering a make, model and ZIP code on a site.

This narrows Web traffic for advertising, the company said. AutoWeb also targets specific ZIP codes in real time.

"AutoWeb recognizes that connecting the right advertisers and consumers at the right time and in the right context is fundamental to creating a quality online experience," Bollenbacher said in a statement.

AutoWeb is designed to drive more targeted consumers and deliver high ROI, he said.

The startup is funded by a $2.5 million investment from California-based online marketing firm Autobytel Inc. It's expected to invest another $2.5 million at a later date.

You can reach Dustin Walsh at dwalsh@crain.com

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