Torstar has added some extra horsepower to its online Wheels. The Toronto media company has re-launched the auto-focused site with an emphasis on what a senior executive describes as a “totally immersive and personalized” user experience.
While Wheels.ca has historically catered to what general manager Jonmichael Moy described as automotive enthusiasts and car buyers, its newest incarnation is also focusing on automotive owners, with content tailored to specific groups like outdoor lovers, families and urban commuters.
“You’re not always going to be looking to purchase a car, but you’re going to have automotive needs,” said Moy. “What we’re doing is creating an opportunity for brands to engage with all segments of automotive [shoppers] across the purchase funnel.
“We want Wheels.ca to be really integrated into people’s lives, so that whatever they want to do with their car, whether it’s a road-trip, the best accessories to get to keep your children entertained in your minivan, all these different automotive decisions, there’s something for them.”
The site has also augmented its content with new writers and video clips sourced from the Global Television program Driving Television.
Torstar has also incorporated responsive design to cater to the site’s sizeable mobile audience. Advertising inventory includes standard IAB units such as leaderboards and big boxes, while it also offers sponsored content opportunities around its seven content verticals: Family, luxury, outdoor, performance, urban commuter, workforce and eco-conscious.
Wheels.ca skews slightly younger and more female than its print counterpart, with men and women 18-55 comprising the bulk of its audience.
The site currently attracts an estimated 400,000 unique visitors per month. Moy told Marketing traffic is expected to double this year because of increased emphasis on attracting mobile audiences and added investment in SEO.
Moy said the revamped site is designed to make Wheels.ca a destination site earlier in the automotive purchase cycle. He cited Millward Brown research suggesting consumers visit approximately 24 online destinations when looking to purchase a vehicle, with the buying cycle condensed from between six and 12 months to as little as three months.
“We know that they go to different sites with different intentions,” he said. “What we’ve done is create a central destination that gives them all the information.”
As part of its joint sponsorship of the upcoming Canadian International AutoShow with the Toronto Star, Wheels is inviting people to pose with Driving Television personalities at the Toronto event and select one of seven custom frames associated with its content pillars. Users sharing the photo on their Facebook or Twitter accounts will be eligible to win a Samsung Galaxy tablet.