Would You Buy A Car From ESPN?

from the weird-convergence dept

Every so often, we get requests from companies to do a co-branded something or another. The promise is always the same. This other company will take whatever it is they have and brand it with the Techdirt look and feel, and we’ll be able to tell people that we now have the Techdirt dating site, or the Techdirt magazine subscription page, or the Techdirt telephone service. The idea, of course, is that it doesn’t cost us a thing, and basically the company providing it gets to build up users without having to build up their own brand as much. There’s also usually some kind of revenue share agreement. Except… things usually don’t work out that way. Even if the target audience of these companies is the same as those who read Techdirt, how many people are really going to look to Techdirt to offer these things? Beyond that, because we’d just be co-branding the offering, there would be nothing unique about our offering. You could just as easily go to any other partner and get an identical product. There’s no competitive advantage at all — so, we tend to ignore or turn these offers down. However, it seems that other companies still buy into them — and sometimes they’re quite big. The latest is that ESPN and Autobytel have teamed up to sell cars on the ESPN site. They’re basically doing a co-branded site that will include some unique ESPN/sporting related content. However, it still should make you wonder… who is actually going to go to an ESPN site to buy a car? If they’re going to buy a car online, wouldn’t they go looking for sites that specialize in that? Advertising for car sites probably makes sense — but a completely co-branded site just seems beyond what’s necessary. However, given ESPN’s interest in things like offering phone service as well, perhaps this isn’t too big of a surprise. Still, you have to wonder if they’re stretching their brand too thin.

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