The Wall Street Journal profilesseveral niche automotive web sites on the front of the Personal Journal section, focusing primarily on sites that are helpful in the car buying process. In contrast to ClearMechanic, these are pure publishers, generating useful content for specific demographics. As an example, Motherproof.com is a review site targeted at mothers buying cars – it gained enough user traction to draw an acquisition offer from Cars.com in 2007.
Because we are fans of RepairPal.com and DriverSide.com, it’s a bit disappointing to see disproportionate reporting on the new cars sale side of the industry. Certainly, purchasing a car from an aggressive salesperson can be a frustrating experience. And in those instances, arming the consumer with data and reviews is essential. But the consumer is truly underserved in the repair process, a space that is targeted by just a handful of sites now, ClearMechanic included.
The Business Insider released a related, encouraging news pieceabout the popularity of automotive web sites. After travel and technology sites, automotive web sites draw the third-highest CPM (cost per thousand impressions) rates from advertisers.
There’s not much analysis in the article, but two things stand out in our view. First, these rates must apply to directly negotiated deals with major advertisers, because they seem on the high end for online advertising. Second, one of the main reasons automotive publishers continue to do well is the close linkage between readers of online automotive publications and potential car purchasers. In other words, it’s unlikely that a visitor to Edmunds.com or Cars.com is checking the web site casually; rather, they’re probably thinking about buying a car in the near future. We suspect this same advertising premium will apply to consumer-facing auto repair sites, because it’s likely that visitors to such sites are looking to purchase repair services. That’s certainly a positive for RepairPal, and might be helpful for ClearMechanic down the road as well.