The Tri-Valley auto market is displaying some predictable trends. Consumers in search of a new car, whether preowned or not, are looking carefully at vehicle gas mileage before making any purchase commitments. Sales of trucks and SUVs are slowing, but demand for luxury cars, in the $40,000 to $70,000 price range, has not slacked off as much. This is the perspective offered by Bill White, the general manager at Auto Mart, which publishes the four regional versions of Diablo Dealer, along with three other auto classified titles targeting the greater Bay Area and Central Valley.
Challenging market conditions, such as the high cost of fuel and the credit crunch, have left their mark on the auto business and its affiliates. Advertising publications have also had to face down big increases in paper costs and new competition from the Internet. Auto Mart has responded by focusing on its strengths and ability to serve its customers.
Many of those strengths come from its affiliation with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, "one of the nation's leading media companies and providers of automotive services," with 2007 revenues of $15 billion, 83,000 employees, and a 10-year annual growth rate of 11.9 percent, according to the corporate web site. Auto Mart is one of three business units under the Cox Auto Trader umbrella, an operating division that came into being in 2006 when Cox Enterprises split up the magazine portfolio of Trader Publishing Co., a joint venture that included Diablo Dealer, and took full ownership of the print and online automotive segment. Auto Mart now bills itself as "the leading provider of print and online classified automotive advertising for dealer customers." The company combines print publications in 72 separate markets across the U.S., with one million online used car listings from dealers.
The other two business units are AutoTrader.com, the well-known auto classifieds marketplace and consumer information web site; and Auto Trader Publishing, which produces 341 automobile and light truck classified advertising titles boasting a total circulation of 2.3 million per week.
This extensive network allows White and his sales staff to offer a powerful combination of print and online advertising options. "We also market automart.com on the Internet, so we offer a multimedia product that advertises cars for sale in print and on the Net. The ad buyer gets greater circulation." White stresses Automart.com's reputation as the largest dealer-only web site. By limiting advertising to auto dealers, he explains, his team can offer customers the advantage of exclusivity. "Our customers don't have to compete with the average person selling a car in the driveway," he observes.
White joined Diablo Dealer in 2004, when it was still part of Trader Publishing. "Our team has nursed this operation through several transitions," including an office move within Hacienda and the recent shift of production functions to Cincinnati. All seven products-four zones of Auto Mart/Diablo Dealer, Luxury Autos, and two zones of the Spanish-language Auto Mercado-are printed in a Cox-owned plant in Oregon on Sunday nights and distributed to newsstand locations so consumers have a fresh issue every Monday. Contact the publication at (925) 227-2190 or visit www.automart.com .
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