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The massive online platform for buying and selling cars has relaunched its mobile Web site and mobile app twice in the last two years as part of an overall effort to streamline the search process for consumers and create a more unified experience across platforms.

“We really started this whole effort before mobile became such a critical part of the landscape,” said Catherine Iger, senior director of product management at “We really would have designed for mobile upfront.

“If we were to go back, we probably would have weighed the pros and cons of a responsively designed Web site.”

Ms. Iger spoke Tuesday at a session called “Reinventing Consumer Experiences: How Autotrader.Com Is Transforming a $1 Billion Automotive Shopping Brand” at eTail East in Philadelphia.

Using filters
One of the major goals of the Web site overhaul was to improve the user experience of searching on the site. AutoTrader installed filters that make it easier for shoppers to browse the site according to the general features they are looking for in a vehicle. also wanted to create a uniform experience across all devices, so that customers would recognize the core brand attributes whether they were shopping on desktop, tablet or mobile.

“Consumers expect the site to behave very similar on every channel,” said Greg Vilines, senior product manager. “Whatever they see as the core piece of the site that makes us ‘us’, they wan to see that across every channel, whether it’s desktop, mobile app or tablet.”

One of the challenges the company faced in creating the revamped Web site experience was that it had originally developed Web sites for each channel separately, so that shoppers on desktop had a very different experience from shoppers on mobile devices.

Catherine Iger

As the company overhauled its Web experience, one of the other key things it focused on was the speed and performance of the site on each device. Site performance and speed are key to driving sales, Ms. Iger said.

“When we redid our search and turned it into filters, we realized consumers expect speed,” she said. “If you can get speed right, and get your site as fast as you possibly can, the business results will follow.

“It is an ongoing initiative to make sure we are constantly optimizing speed.”

New ads
AutoTrader also introduced new native advertising that it found increased conversion rates of shoppers over previous display ads, and it re-introduced its display ads in a new format.

The Web site’s advertisers, which are primarily local auto dealers, also provide some of the most sought-after content, which is vehicle listings, making native advertising a natural fit for the site.

Mr. Vilines said that since the Web overhaul, local dealers have seen an 18 percent increase in listing impressions and a 7 percent increase in vehicles viewed.

“Advertisers are also seeing a benefit,” said Mr. Vilines. “We are focusing on the right things, which is driving more value for them.”

Final Take

Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York