Automobile websites have been an important source of product information for consumers, and today, such niche websites have also become a platform for brands to directly engage prospective buyers through online campaigns.
Specialty content around events, allied categories and sponsorships are emerging as lucrative revenue stream for automobile websites such as ZigWheels.
In conversation with exchange4media, Akshay Chaturvedi, Business Head, ZigWheels shares the emerging trends in this specialised space, what consumers are looking for and the focus areas for 2013.
When it comes to content, automobile websites end up looking very similar to each other? How does one create differentiation in this space?
Well, it’s up to a portal to decide how it creates content to not only distinguish itself but more than that generate user affinity through it. At ZigWheels, the goal is to create credible information that can connect to what users are looking for. ZigWheels stands out with its width and depth on an array of topics in the automotive world cutting across cars and bikes.
ZigWheels is positioned uniquely today as the expert voice that not only lets users take the best and most informed decision during their purchase lifecycle but let others passionate about the category follow their interests. We do this by tailoring content and presentation as per user needs and, therefore, on the one hand, you can do your research on new and used cars or sell your car, you could also read up expert reviews, news and features. A very senior editorial team ensures that the content connects with the users.
To top it all, we have specialty content around guides that share information on tyres, fuel efficiency and DIY car care, among other things. Motorsport is another niche that ZigWheels occupies very well.
What are the key trends that you have seen in the way people consume content related to automobiles in the digital sphere? What are they looking for the most?
One of the definite trends is that of vehicles being high ticket items, the pre-purchase research has shifted in a big way to the internet. As per a Google report, around 50 per cent of car buyers do their research online, but what’s more interesting is that about 50 per cent change their decision on brand choice post online research. This also carries the message that digital is today an important influencer and brands should look at appropriate messaging through high quality and innovative brand campaigns online.
People are no longer looking just for prices but want a credible evaluation and want to read reviews, do comparisons, check images and ask experts. This is one of the reasons why ZigWheels strikes a chord with users as some other portals are largely pricing engines and lack a holistic support for people in their pre-purchase phase.
The other trend is used cars would be a bigger segment in coming times and online would be a very important medium for it.
What are the main revenue streams for automobile websites?
Given the consumer engagement on ZigWheels and the response brands receive on their campaigns run on the site, the primary revenue stream for us is the display advertising and brand solutions. Given the nature of category, we also have other revenue streams from the retail or transaction side of vehicles in form of solutions for dealers in new cars and used cars, they could be display led or listings led. More recently, we are creating specialty content around events and allied categories opening up sponsorships as a revenue stream for us.
Among many of our brand innovations, some talked about ones include our Expert Chat during the launch of a hatch and a chat around the Indian GP with our experts, both of which yielded great results for clients.
As I said, the more the user affinity to your site, better the engagement; we have seen very healthy and definitely much better than industry average with regards to campaigns on ZigWheels. ZigWheels, because of its diversity, has also been able to give specific brands the ability to run highly targeted contextual campaigns.
What are the factors that have worked in your favour?
In FY12, ZigWheels had the highest average category traffic share (unique visitors) of 30 per cent and was number one for seven out of 12 months as per comScore India.
In the first half of the current fiscal year, ZigWheels already was leading in four out of the six months and has the highest average category traffic share at 32 per cent.
We count our credible information, our exhaustive geographic coverage for on-road pricing for new cars, content diversity, very high user-centric approach and easy to use site structure, among the factors that have catapulted us to a high user connect.
What will be your key focus areas in 2013?
We are bullish on 2013 and it would see launch of some exciting new products and services, larger use of technology and a rounded presence across all digital platforms. We would keep focussing on our users as they are always at the forefront of all our plans and create meaningful products and usable information to keep them updated. We will help them in making the right decisions for their purchases.