Auto Shopping Website Vehix to Now Fill Three Screens

Will Expand Ad Programs and Content to Mobile and Cable

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DETROIT ( -- Auto shopping and information site is expanding its web content to cable TV and mobile phones -- and to underscore its multimedia capability, is dropping "dot-com" from its name.

Integrated ad packages
The new Vehix, which is partly owned by cable giant Comcast, intends to sell advertisers on integrated ad packages across the three screens. "The trend in consumer usage is moving to multiple platforms," said Glenn Morey, who holds the dual position of Vehix chief marketing officer and president of Morey Evans, Denver, Vehix's agency. "Consumers want to access content whenever and wherever."

But the expansion of Vehix, which current gets some 1 million unique visitors monthly to its website, is also aimed at drawing advertisers. "We are able to go with an integration automakers haven't seen before," he said.

Vehix has a deal with the major wireless phone carriers and six cable companies covering 60 U.S. markets, he said. The cable outfits are giving the equivalent of $250 million in advertising to Vehix for promotions, so the company itself won't be doing any advertising.

Mobile website
Vehix's new mobile website starts in a few weeks and it will offer vehicle buyers access to data about models, prices, photos and dealerships distances. Shoppers can ask Vehix to send text messages to their phones with specific vehicle and dealership details.

Todd Turner, president of auto consultant CarConcepts, called the mobile piece "a double-edged sword," because buyers in showrooms can dicker with salesman by showing them lower prices on competitive models. "It's going to change the whole dynamics of how dealers do business and how they treat customers."

Doug Scott, senior VP of consultant GfK Automotive, said the mobile offerings must be easy to use, with screens large enough to see the information. He predicted only the most "super-tech people" will access Vehix's mobile phone data.

TV screens still rule
Vehix refined its beta test of on-demand cable TV with American Honda Motor Co. last fall. Perhaps surprisingly, consumers preferred their TV screens over their computer screens 4 to 1 to watch on-demand test-drive videos, with views "well into six figures," Mr. Morey said.

"Automakers are actively searching for different, highly accountable programs, particularly as integrated with mass-exposure mediums like TV," he said. Vehix projects cable TV will be a substantial portion of its contest distribution. "TV is still the most powerful medium in the world."
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