Lexus has convinced seven automotive Web sites to include certified pre-owned vehicles as a separate click-through category on their home pages.
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.'s luxury division will be the exclusive advertiser on the new certified used-vehicle pages for at least one year.
Until now, most certified vehicles information Web sites have been general and not brand specific, says Marv Ingram, Lexus' national certified pre-owned and fleet manager.
Ingram says Lexus began researching consumers' understanding of certified vehicles about 18 months ago and found some confusion about how the vehicles differ from other used vehicles.
"We're going to educate the masses; we're going to drive more educated consumers into our dealerships, and that leads to more sales," Ingram says.
Certified used-vehicle programs cover late-model vehicles that have been inspected and come with factory warranties. The Web sites involved are Edmunds.com, AutoTrader.com, Autobytel.com, CarsDirect.com, AutoWeb.com, YahooAutos and cars.com. The Web sites started adding the certified category on Jan. 12.
"We began talking with the Web sites last spring," Ingram says. "It was long, and it was arduous; we had to convince them. They're good partners. They knew that CPO (certified preowned) was going somewhere. They had some ideas in the backs of their minds, but I don't think they knew what they wanted to do. When we shared our ideas, it gave them a better direction."
For example, on the Edmunds.com home page the certified category is just below the new-car category. Users can click through to an information page. The page describes certified used vehicles and explains how to buy one.
There also are links to various manufacturers' certified used-vehicle sites and a certified vehicle locator.
Lexus is the sole sponsor of the page. Ingram says Lexus is supporting its Internet effort with magazine ads in publications, including Golf Digest, House and Garden and Time.
The automaker also has created nine radio spots that are being used by Lexus dealer ad associations in their local markets.