Leveraging Video as an Amplification Tactic for Cars.com

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Over the years, Cars.com has focused on efficient audience delivery and marketing across all channels based on their high brand awareness in the industry. That being said, Cars.com wanted to experiment expanding their marketing funnel and pushing more brand awareness within their linear TV and digital efforts to reach a more qualified audience with a more efficient budget. The ask was to re-invent their marketing funnel to drive higher website visitation and increase brand awareness while using measurable results to continue to optimize campaigns.


  • Our marketing objective was to increase overall Cars.com brand awareness throughout the country, while strategically penetrating opportunity markets and audience segments in terms of brand awareness and website traffic.
  • Our marketing goal was to increase brand awareness, measured using our DRUM model to increase awareness reach and site visitation.

Implementation + Messaging

To successfully reach our marketing objective and goal, we deployed a full funnel tentpole strategy during March Madness to reach our opportunity market of males aged 25-34. Our full funnel strategy included linear TV, CTV, Digital Video, Social Video and display to broaden our awareness reach and ensure that we were reaching all qualified consumers available during this tournament. Although for offline channels, we used diverse non-Google partners to amplify our strategy, the secret sauce to this campaign was our YouTube brand awareness strategy. 

Our YouTube brand awareness strategy was considered an amplification plan to the overall tentpole strategy. Essentially our goal for our amplification strategy was to increase site traffic and frequency digitally, at a lower cost than our linear component within the tentpole strategy. To ensure we had the most effective amplification strategy, we launched a YouTube Masthead ad for 24hrs while concurrently running a Google Ads In-Stream Video campaign for the duration of 5 days to extend the reach of the masthead. 

The combination of Google products – Youtube for this campaign – plus additional TV partners has proven again and again to be an ideal strategy for our client Cars.com due to the audience reach and great performance we are able to ensure from our Google campaigns. The Google Network always allows us to align perfectly not only with our tentpole strategy but also our digital audience-first strategy – our personalized and data-driven approach that syncs audience segments and signals by using behavioral, contextual, and environmental data along media touchpoints. 

Our core efforts for Cars.com consist of in-market audiences, however for this brand awareness campaign we pivoted for our core audience-first strategy and broadened the reach using an affinity audience. The YT Masthead targeted our opportunity audience + those that had an affinity for auto on the day of the final 4 tournament in the NBA, which also featured linear cars.com spots. Our In-stream video was then used as a remarketing tactic, targeting those that had viewed the YT Masthead and had not reached the site. The remarketing campaign was a Trueview for Action campaign that was optimizing towards site visitation while our Masthead tactic optimized for mass reach on the day of the final 4. 

Thus, being able to use Google Ads products, audience segments and optimization levers was truly the secret sauce to the success of this campaign as it literally broadened our awareness reach and tentpole brand awareness campaigns while allowing us to crush our marketing goal.


In comparison to our other tent pole campaigns, March Madness had the second highest Visits per Ad and the highest Visit percent lift but came at a premium price With a CPV of $220 – average CPV for tent poles being $123. Our YouTube Masthead ad had 10M impressions, 20.1K ViVs (video influenced visits to site) at a $8.08 Cost per ViV (CPV). Our in-stream videos were even more effective with 9.5M impressions, 376K ViVs at a $0.24 CPV. Although the Masthead increased the overall CPV of the full brand awareness strategy, Google in-stream videos had the most efficient ViV and eViV performance outperforming other Sports tent poles. Additionally compared to core campaigns, the in-stream remarketing campaign still outperformed core awareness efforts although it’s main goal was awareness reach. Core efforts have an average of $0.91 CPV and a Cost/eViV of $1.79. Overall the secret sauce to widen our awareness reach (YouTube Masthead + extended In-Stream Video Campaign) truly achieved our marketing goal of increasing brand awareness + apliflying site visitation for our opportunity market.


Consumers Reached


Video Influenced Visits to Site


Cost per ViV (CPV)


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