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Cars.com CMO shares success of ‘matchmaking’ campaign to help consumers find their dream ride

Medill IMC students see real world example of the link between data and creativity

April 11, 2019 | By Kayla Reardon (BSJ19)

What does buying a car have in common with online dating?  

Quite a lot, according to Cars.com Chief Marketing Officer Brooke Skinner Ricketts 

Skinner Ricketts shared the success of marrying data about cars and car buyers with a creative “matchmaking” approach that Cars.com is using in its new marketing campaign. She talked with Medill students, faculty and alumni about linking data and creative thinking at a professional development and networking event in February at Medill Chicago.  

The Medill Integrated Marketing Communications program encourages marketers to build strategies based on data about customers’ needs and wants. Cars.com used a similar model and was able to use its 20 years of consumer car shopping data to create the ultimate car matchmaking experience. This experience helped Cars.com act on their goal to make car shopping a more successful, and enjoyable, experience, said Ricketts 

Cars.com sees about 44.5M visits per year. This made it important for Cars.com to work on increasing its level of engagement with visitors. With the tagline “We Met on Cars.com”, the brand set to help consumers find the right car the same way people online date.  

Customers take a quiz to figure out which car models will best fit their needs, along with comprehensive vehicle data. It also requires people to make accounts on Cars.com and let them save their matches—exactly like on online dating websites. 

“Based on what you tell us, we can recommend not just make and model but actual inventory that’s nearby so you can go check out that inventory,” said Skinner Ricketts. 

 The campaign was bolstered by media placements that included 30-second, 15-second and six-second video ads across TV, digital and social channels. There were also ads specifically for Tinder to reinforce the matchmaking experience.  

The campaign, which continues today, has drastically increased the number of visitors the Cars.com site and has provided new consumer insights. This helped Cars.com to add even more data to its already large databasemaking the matchmaking experience even more successful. 

Medill IMC student Jill Babirak enjoyed seeing Cars.com’s end result from the initial idea. “You can turn something that can be really boring and mundane like car-shopping into something that can be easier, more exciting and more relevant,” she said. “I think that’s a really cool way to communicate to consumers.”  

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