March 29, 2010 08:45 ET

BlueKai's Pulse Index Shows Toyota Camry Loses Top Car Model Spot to Volkswagen New Beetle

SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwire - March 29, 2010) -  BlueKai, the online industry's first intent-focused, auction-based data exchange and online marketing's largest source of user intent data, reports in the fourth installment of the BlueKai Pulse that a Volkswagen Super Bowl ad and aggressive promotion of the new Beetle made it the most researched car model in February 2010. Volkswagen's ascendancy appears to have benefited from Toyota's well-publicized recall of eight models beginning in January 2010. Last year's top model, the Toyota Camry, dropped to 13th place, while the Toyota Prius has dropped completely off of the Top 20.

The report is an analysis of data from the BlueKai Data Exchange, which aggregates intent data from over 160 million unique users on top-tier e-commerce, online travel agency and auto comparison sites. This installment specifically examines more than 50 million automotive intent actions in February 2009 and February 2010. Automotive intent actions are defined as views of specific models or brand pages on automotive comparison websites.

"The BlueKai data confirms that US consumers are willing to investigate many automotive brands, as long as those brands bring a combination of style, value, and safety," says Jordan Rohan, Managing Director, Internet and Digital Media Research at Thomas Weisel Partners.

Intent actions indicate general interest in a car brand or model, and do not necessarily correlate to sales in a given month, because of the often months-long research process involved in purchasing a car. Major shifts in intent may indicate the overall health of a car brand, but could also be affected by promotions, advertising, and new model releases, as well as news events such as the highly publicized Toyota recall. Among the other significant findings in the newest BlueKai Pulse:

Focus on New Brands Could Indicate Shift in Shopper Consideration

The appearance of Kia and Hyundai in the Top 20 Car Models (see chart 1) may indicate a shift in intent towards more "value"-focused brands. The Kia Sorento makes an appearance at #11 while Hyundai captured the #2 and #15 spots with the Tucson and the Sonata. Neither brand had any model in the top 20 in 2009.

Smart Car and Kia Fastest Increasing Brands

A potential shift in buyer consideration is further evidenced by the Fastest Growing Auto Brands (see chart 2). The ultra compact Smart car was the fastest growing car brand in volume of intent actions when comparing February 2010 to February 2009 during which intent action volume was up 779%. Kia was the second-fastest growing brand in user interest. Increased interest in GMC and Buick could indicate a turn-around for the beleaguered General Motors.

    KIA Enters Top 10, Toyota Share of Branded Intent Actions Down Year-Over-Year

The new entrant to the Top 10 automotive brands in February 2010 versus February 2009 was South Korean carmaker Kia. Its share increased by 89% from February 2009, to account for 3.2% of automotive intent actions in February 2010 (see chart 3).

Despite the recalls, Toyota still topped the list of intent actions by automotive brands in February 2010. However, Toyota's share of branded automotive intent actions dropped by 6% from February 2009. On the BlueKai Exchange, American car brands Ford and Chevrolet maintained their respective #2 and #3 rankings from February 2009 to 2010.

BlueKai ( created the world's largest and highest quality online intent data exchange to better connect advertisers with their target consumers online. BlueKai aggregates valuable shopping and research activities across the Internet, offering non-personally identifiable actionable data to marketers, ad networks, and publishers on over 200 million retail, travel, auto, education and financial product shoppers online. Additionally through strategic partnerships with top-tier data providers -- who earn revenue in a privacy friendly way -- the BlueKai Exchange gives marketers access to over 10,000+ combinations of intent, demographic, geographic, lifestyle, B2B data and additional segments.

The privately-held company is based in Bellevue, WA and is a recipient of the AlwaysOn 2009 OnMedia 100 award as a Technology Innovator in Advertising, and the OnMedia 100 Top Private Companies.

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