Two lead-generating companies that survived the dot-com shakeout have diversified into home mortgages and refinancing.
Some may say it's an act of desperation. Others may see it as a savvy way to drive more customers to the Web sites - and ultimately funnel more sales leads to dealers.
Both companies contend that the move is a natural extension of their core product: Ultimately, they say, it will foster loyal automotive customers.
CarsDirect.com in February launched a mortgage company called LoanStore.com. It offers home mortgages, refinancing and even home equity loans.
In a similar move, Reply Inc., formerly Next Phase Media Inc., in June consolidated three lead-generating Web sites - iMotors.com, CarClub.com and OpenAuto.com - into Reply.com. The three sites will continue to exist, at least for a while, but all the marketing money is going into the new site.
Ultimately, Reply CEO Payam Zamani would like to see all the automotive leads funneled to dealers through Reply.com.