How a content experiment drove trips to

The automotive sales website used native advertising to spur pre-purchase research.

In order to reach potential buyers before they plan their purchase, has been experimenting with content and jumping into the native advertising game.

Ian MacDonald, director of consumer marketing at the Canadian company, tells MiC that’s research indicates consumers only think about buying a car about once every four years.

To spark the urge perhaps a little faster – while positioning itself as a thought leader – it launched a News and Features section last fall, populating it with buying and selling tips, as well as entertainment-style pieces.

“We want to interrupt people earlier on in the buying cycle, so they are familiar with us when they are ready to buy, and then think of the brand and the site when they are ready to buy,” MacDonald says.

Once the brand began building a news voice on its site, MacDonald said it needed to start bringing more people to the YahooAutotradercontent. So partnered with Yahoo to start placing native ads across the media co’s pages and apps.

While native advertising his its critics, the strategy has proved effective for publishers like the Globe and Mail, which has seen strong results from the initial rollout of its Globe Native program.

Since launching its native ads in the last months of 2014, has seen an average click-through rate of 2.4%, and nearly 400,000 impressions for one of the top-performing ads in the campaign.

MacDonald says has the ability to alter the native ads in real-time, giving his team the ability to alter ads based on engagement. Through experience, his team has learned that ads with no logos and high-entertainment value get more clicks than ones that more overtly promote the brand.

The content experiment has resulted in better than expected results. The car company was aiming to get 100,000 unique visitors to the site by the end of the campaign, but reached 250,000 after two months.

While the majority of’s spend still goes to driving users to the site’s marketplace, the deal with Yahoo has been extended indefinitely.

Claude Galipeau, country manager, Yahoo Canada, says its native ad options were among its fastest-growing units in 2014, with expectations that they will continue to grow this year as brands activate campaigns directly through the platform.

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