Shopping site CarGurus is launching its first national TV campaign today, June 5, after a two-month pilot in three cities.
The site jumped into the TV ad mix for the first time in April with two 30-second spots that ran in Denver, Nashville and Austin, Texas, showcasing the simplicity of using CarGurus.
CarGurus had relied on digital marketing and word-of-mouth. But the company is looking to TV to close the awareness gap with rival sites such as Autotrader, Cars.com, KBB.com and Edmunds that have run TV spots for years.
CarGurus says it draws 23 million unique monthly users and serves more than 21,000 new- and used-vehicle dealerships. It has more than 5 million car listings.
CarGurus experienced a lift in brand awareness in the test markets, said Sarah Welch, senior vice president of consumer marketing. The spots also outperformed their benchmarks on YouTube, where CarGurus used preroll ads to target auto shoppers who hadn't visited its site.
Going into the campaign, Welch said the company was unsure if the TV audience would take immediate action after seeing the spots. But viewers responded quickly.
"In my experience in past companies, you're building awareness [via TV] with an audience that may not be ready to act. You get some traffic that is sort of checking you out for future reference. They may not be as ready to act as someone who comes to you from a search engine where they're showing intent to engage with your business," Welch said. "For our new and repeat visitors, the conversion rates were pretty comparable to the traffic we've had historically. That was a really positive result."
The national ad push will lean toward programming and networks that are geared toward men and millennials, but the site will also reach out to women on networks such as HGTV.
Implementing a TV campaign presented new challenges to CarGurus, such as measuring effectiveness and creating engaging content for a TV audience.
Welch said the site is used to running digital executions that can be measured with "complete precision," so the company has had to augment its analytics capabilities to "bring as much rigor" as it can to gauge the impact of its TV push.
In addition, "Most of our marketing strategies haven’t relied on significant creative execution to be successful," she said. "Getting the creative right and getting the story right in a way that's distinct and memorable and really breaks through for customers is incredibly important."