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First 2000 Sr. Member
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Discussion Starter #1
While it isn't truly about the SKY, here is an article from the Wall Street Journal that includes an image and talks about one persons experience with a service to look up the SKY and it's competitiors. Oh, that would be me BTW... :jester:

Click here...

Baby, You Can Drive My Car -- Via Television
September 1, 2006; Page A11
Dave Adler had his heart set on the new Saturn Sky roadster, but he still wanted to compare the capabilities of the vehicle to its competitors. Instead of going to dealers and test driving convertibles, he turned to driverTV, a cable channel that offers a virtual showroom experience for car buyers through video on demand.

DriverTV shows video clips of different vehicles driving down the same stretch of winding road. Based on the videos, Mr. Adler says he was able to compare the Sky with cars like the Pontiac Solstice. With his research complete, Mr. Adler purchased a Sky without having a test drive or examining the vehicle in person.

"It wasn't intrusive, and it wasn't a sales pitch," Mr. Adler, a resident of Binghamton, N.Y., says of driverTV. "Regular commercials don't offer the information you want when you are really shopping, and driverTV told me everything I needed to know."

At a time when marketers are questioning the value of traditional television commercials, a variety of virtual showrooms, including some launched by the auto makers themselves, are gaining attention.

DriverTV features an unlikely approach to showcasing new cars. Instead of glamour shots of vehicles bounding over desert terrain, cruising boulevards or serving as props for comic vignettes, driverTV showcases three-minute videos of new cars and light trucks doing exactly the same things. The vehicles take the same turns, make the same stops and drive at similar speeds.

The videos include shots that pan over the console panel and dashboard in the interior, then show the headlights, grille and the rest of the exterior. The same voice-over for all the videos goes over the specs and features, and the same information is offered for each model.

"It's definitely boring to watch if you are not in the market for a car," says driverTV Chief Executive Jan Renner. "But for people who are really shopping, it brings the showroom to your living room."

Paul Edwards, director of media operations for General Motors Corp., says most consumers have already done research online before purchasing a vehicle and now television is starting to play a role in that process. By the time customers go to the showroom, many of them have already made up their mind about what they want.

Auto makers pay to have their vehicles featured on driverTV, which spends about a day for preparation and filming of each model. When the vehicles are delivered to driverTV's Los Angeles studio, they are cleaned, waxed and prepped for filming. The car is then put on a rotating stage to film the exterior. It then goes to another stage to film the interior, including a 360-degree shot of the inside of the car from the driver's perspective. The vehicle is then taken outside to a desert location outside Los Angeles to be filmed along a stretch of road.

Because of the neutral environment and the consistency of the action, consumers are able to compare numerous vehicles objectively -- and without pressure from a sales person.

DriverTV is getting a boost, too, from the proliferation of large, flat-panel TV sets, which give consumers an enhanced viewing experience that Internet sites that aggregate new-vehicle information can't match on a small computer screen.

Since launching in November, driverTV has grown to 800,000 viewers in August from 40,000 viewers in its first month, as measured by driverTV and the cable companies. The service is available in 46 of the top 50 cable markets, and now has videos of more than 100 of the 285 new car and light-truck models on the market. More importantly, consumers are watching the video clips for the full three-minutes -- in contrast to the 30-second ads that are often skipped by TiVo users.

Cable customers have to pay an extra charge to have on-demand service, which includes driverTV, but there is no additional fee to watch that channel.

GM, DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group and Ford Motor Co., were among the first companies to sign up, although Ford initially featured just a few models. Now Toyota Motor Corp., Porsche AG, Ford's Jaguar brand, Hyundai Motor Corp. and Suzuki Motor Co. are joining the service. Talks with other brands are continuing, says Mr. Renner. By the end of the year, driverTV will feature 75% of all U.S. models available in the market.

Now auto makers are starting their own versions of driverTV's virtual showroom. GM in April launched a video-on-demand service that showcases more than 60 models for 12 million viewers who have access to digital cable through Time Warner, Comcast, Cox and Cablevision.

Ford has dabbled with video on demand separately from its involvement with driverTV. Last December, the No. 2 U.S. auto maker launched programming to promote the new Ford Fusion sedan and the redesigned Ford Explorer SUV. The Explorer content mainly revolved around commercial-free coverage of the latest Ironman athletic competition, while the Fusion program featured the Norwegian band Hurra Torpedo. Viewers could also request brochures on the vehicles.

Brian Bos, who handles new media at Ford advertising agency JWT, says he learned that consumers who were actively shopping for a vehicle mainly skipped over the entertainment portion of the content and went straight to the section that gave technical information about the vehicle and links to reviews of the models. Viewers watched for eight to nine minutes and viewed the content multiple times.

"Viewers were rewinding and pausing to make sure they got the information they wanted," Mr. Bos says. "It's not something that is meant for the general public. It's meant for shoppers only."

Mitch Lowe, head of marketing firm Jumpstart Automotive Media, says the fact that only consumers who are shopping tune in to car information on video-on-demand services is exactly what makes such services valuable. Only about 5 million consumers are actively shopping for a car in any given month, he says. A video-on-demand service gets information to those people, without forcing the manufacturer to spend money blanketing the airwaves with ads that mostly reach consumers who aren't interested in buying a car.

Jumpstart is working with auto Web site for its soon to be launched vehix TV on demand, which will be available to Comcast subscribers and offer a virtual showroom experience.

"The Internet and TV will complement each other as shopping tools for car buyers," Mr. Lowe says. "That will become the mainstream way to look for a car."

Thoughts of the article??? I think it is cool they used the screen shot of the SKY... although the print version has a bigger, in-color version.
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