It could be all-change in one of UK news publishers’ biggest online sectors, car classified ads.
- News Corp.’s News International is ready to fight market-leading AutoTrader by launching its own website in the space.
- Mail Online publisher A&N Media last week sold the sector’s number-two player, Motors.co.uk, to Manheim Remarketing, which owns the U.S. Autotrader.com, which is unrelated to AutoTrader of the UK, for an undisclosed sum.
- AutoTrader UK owner Trader Media Group (TMG) is jointly owned by Guardian Media Group and Apax, which each this week said they were splitting their jointly-owned Emap media group in to three. GMG hopes to sell both TMG and Emap for a windfall in the future.
Trader Media Group is a case study in digital transition, having successfully moved its traditional printed Autotrader classifieds newspaper to be a search-centric digital listings business. 2010/11 profit hit £34.7 million on seven percent higher revenue.
News International wants a piece of that pie. It is recruiting for a product and content head with a “start-up mentality” to build a “premier car digital destination”.
To start this business and take share from AutoTrader, News International will need to build relationships with car dealerships as well as individual private buyers and sellers.
That won’t be easy. With 10.8 million monthly uniques at last disclosure in March 2011, AutoTrader claimed to be 16 times more popular than its nearest rival. It hosts over 6,000 dealer websites.
But News International may get to draw on its Times and Sun newspapers’ strong brands in car content; the former takes car reviews from Top Gear co-presenter Jeremy Clarkson.
Disclosure: Guardian News & Media Ltd. is an investor in our parent company, Giga Omni Media.