In October of last year, Nine announced that it will relaunch the Drive brand as part of a major strategic product rollout, with the aim of positioning Drive as the dominant consumer brand for its digital automotive offering.
The announcement also included the news that fellow automotive brand CarAdvice would be folded into Drive.
Nine has owned CarAdvice since 2016 and inherited the Drive brand in the 2018 Nine-Fairfax merger. Since 2019, both brands had moved to share content, product and commercial functions across platforms while also running two separate brands and platforms.
At the end of April of this year, Nine launched Drive.com.au as the first phase of this brand rollout with the site being a new platform that combines automotive commentary, comparison and commerce in one automotive consumer destination.
Mediaweek spoke to Drive CEO Alex Parsons about the new rollout for the legacy brand and about the company’s plans moving forward.
When asked about the timeline of the content merge of the CarAdvice brand into Drive, Parsons said that it is a phased approach that begun with the rollout of the new platform.
“Over the course of the next six to eight weeks, we are migrating all the CarAdvice content and everything under the new Drive platform.”
With 25 years of Drive content and vehicle data, the migration of the new site has been quite the task for Parsons and his team.
“The Drive sight was not a very good technology platform, it had not been updated for years and years and we not only had to migrate this content but also had to build a whole new platform as well.
“The end result of it will be great; one brand, one platform, a platform that can scale, and a platform that can create a future looking experience for consumers.”
Parsons said that this new platform will provide everything that a consumer will need to purchase a new or used car.
“When buying a car people really want to see independent reviews, owner reviews about that car and to compare that car to others in the market. You can’t do that in a Toyota or a Hyundai showroom.
“I am a big believer in data and there is a lot of data about cars. Each car has thousands of different variables and you might just want six, seven, or eight of them and so we should be able to use that to deliver a customised experience for different consumers.”
The new Drive brand
When consolidating their automotive brands Parsons admitted that they were fortunate to have two relatively strong brands in the market.
“For most businesses, the ideal number of brands is one. And we want to put a lot of power, time, energy, and resources behind one brand, so we had to make a rather difficult decision, that in hindsight wasn’t that difficult.
“The CarAdivce brand is a good brand but the market is littered with me too’s like CarsGuide and Carsales and a lot of people when they are on those sites think they are on Carsales which is a big strong brand in this market.
“Drive on the other hand being a noun and a verb has a huge amount of heritage and positivity in Australian consumers. They might not always know today what it stands for, but they know it and have a lot of love and affection for it. In hindsight, it was quite an easy decision to back the Drive brand moving forward.”
Maximising the user experience
Parsons describes Drive’s content strategy as simple and said that it is best described as the three c’s:
“Commentary is all the amazing reviews, advice, opinions, culture, and news pieces that we write day in day out about automotive in Australia.”
“We have a lot of stuff around comparison but it’s the sort of comparisons that are fixed comparisons where one of our journalists will compare car A and car B and the pros and cons. And that is fine if coincidentally you are in the market looking for car A and car B however if you are looking for two other cars that can be quite difficult.
“We will continue to use the subjective comparisons written by our amazing content creators but I think there is a great opportunity to do objective comparisons driven by data so we can allow people to compare two, three, or four different variables that mean most to you. That is where it is today but in the future and we should know using consumer data who you are and what segment you fall in, and offer a slightly different experience based on what we know about people.”
“On the commerce side, how do we offer deals and the ability to connect with our inner network to complete that transaction? Because historically CarAdvice, and to a lesser extent Drive were very good at informing consumers but not very good at helping consumers actually transact. “
Goals for Drive
Parsons said that the vision for the company is to create the future of automotive in Australia.
“We are setting out to be a destination for Australian car buyers, a place where they can come and discover their next new car or what we call their perfect match.
“We want to create a vibrant and information rich market place for everything around automotive. As part of that we want to be Australia’s most authoritative and trusted destination and to both inform and educate drivers and to connect them to that next new car.”
Trends for automotive content
When asked about the future trends of creating automotive content, Parsons said that the Covid-19 pandemic helped reveal a lot of future pathways.
“Because of Covid we had to provide manufacturers with a lot more online solutions. We did a whole bunch of things around virtual test drives, interactive range reviews, and we also found out that the decision point for buyers has moved online.
“We are not going to be selling cars here and are a strong believer in the dealership model, but the ability to move some of those decision points online is a big piece.”