“Aha!” you cry, after reading this headline yesterday in Ad Age:
Cars.com to Sit Out of Super Bowl After Six Years in the Game
“So there goes your claim that TV advertising is NOT dead !”
To which we say, wrong. This announcement actually proves not only that TV advertising still thrives, but also how undead the marketing funnel is.
Frankly, we’ve been somewhat amazed that Cars.com felt the need to run Super Bowl commercials for so long. After all, what more could a thin-storied awareness ad do when you are already the 3rd or 4th most visited auto shopping website, with somewhere between 11 million and 14 million visitors per month? [A quick aside: in a supposed era of supposed “Big Data,” how come no one can agree on a single number for any website's unique visitor count?]
Cars.com needs to move down the funnel, to drive more consideration and eventually more preference. The scale of this category (50-million-plus shoppers per year) demands mass advertising. And the Ad Age article underscored that point, stating that the company's CMO planned to “spend more” throughout the year.
Here’s what to watch for. Will Cars.com make TV ads in 2014 that will tell viewers more about what “no drama” really means? Odds are good, given who its ad agency is – McGarryBowen (oops: mcgarrybowen) – the ones we told you about last week who nailed the insights for the recently launched “lower in the funnel” TV commercials for United.
There is, by the way, one other important reason for Cars.com to tell a richer “mass advertising” story. It’s not the big boys – Cars.com can’t beat them. It’s the attack from below by a little guy, TRUECar.com, who is not going to stay little for long. You might have seen TRUECar's TV commercials – yes, TV advertising - recently. “Guaranteed savings. And a hassle-free experience.”