More than 50 years ago Autoweek magazine launched as Competition Press, a motorsports newspaper. Over the years, the publication transformed itself into a car-enthusiast magazine and now it's transforming again, launching a broad consumer car-shopping site, ShopAutoweek.com. We spoke with KC Crain, VP-publisher of Autoweek Media Group (which, like Ad Age , is owned by Crain Communications), about how the new site plans to contend in a highly-competitive space, dominated by giants such as AutoTrader.com and Cars.com, with 2010 revenue of $738 million and $400 million, respectively.
Ad Age : Autoweek is an enthusiast publication that 's part of a trade publishing company. What's your license for a broad consumer play?
Mr. Crain: We've always been the only consumer product in Crain, so in that way it was just natural for us. We've been doing this for 50 years and at cocktail parties, people always ask us what kind of car they should buy, what kind of car they should buy for their kids. It's nonstop. ... We saw a hole in the market. All the other sites are based off data and that data is a commodity that everyone buys from the same people. But we can give car-shopping advice with 50 years of editorial experience.
Ad Age : But other sites have editorial.
Mr. Crain: This is the core of our business. The data piece you can just plug in. Other sites are still figuring out the publishing game, while the content part is what we're good at. We've hired some lifestyle reporters because, as I like to say, we're writing to civilians now; we're getting a little away from the torque and horsepower crowd.
Ad Age : What are the other differentiators?
Mr. Crain:The technology is HTML5, so you'll be able to manipulate the site on the iPad right out of the gate without an app. ... And we're excited about something called My Notebook. We're not kidding ourselves into thinking our site is the only one car buyers are going to go to. So when you go to GM.com or Ford.com, you can save all that information in one spot back to your notebook. And it's a great place to share from. You can ask your Facebook friends to vote between cars and we'll pull the feedback for you.
Ad Age : How has the market received the new site?
Mr. Crain: We had at least three advertisers excited enough to get on before launch. We have strong ties in the advertising and automotive space and folks like disruption.
Ad Age :How big is the market and what will constitute success?
Mr. Crain:There are over 200 car-shopping sites. There are a lot of players, but definitely a lot of space. We're a new entry and we're just going to be looking to take whatever market share we can get. We stand behind our content as a differentiator.