Site Unseen: TTAC's New Focus

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
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site unseen ttac s new focus

In the Brave New World of electronic automotive journalism, The Truth About Cars (TTAC) squares up against some heavy hitters: KBB, Edmunds, MSN Autos and more. Separately and together, the industry leaders generate more page views than Senator Mark Foley– and us. In truth, there’s an exponential gap between their site traffic and ours. To take on these giants, to pay our writers real money, TTAC must change. Yes, we’ve broken our advertising cherry. But we need to break out of our e-ghetto. So here’s the plan.

As you know, TTAC’s editorials kick ass. Literally. But as much as I enjoy writing, editing and reading our no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners rants, as much I value your witty, passionate and knowledgeable responses, I’ve decided that TTAC’s commercial future lies elsewhere.

Quite simply, we need more of the masses to make money, and the numbers tell the tale: the masses aren’t interested in the arcane debates that float our boat. While I’m not going to deep-six or dumb-down our rants, it’s time for TTAC to re-focus our energies on our most accessible product: car reviews.

Again, rest assured that TTAC will continue to provide a steady stream of honest, literate and provocative editorials. But we’re turning this website into more of a car search widget. In other words, we’re looking to capture more of the people looking for the truth about cars they may want to purchase.

Even as we are now, TTAC gets a LOT of model searches through our Google rankings (enter the model name of a car we’ve reviewed and we’re usually on the first page or so). Once browsers click onto a review, it’s like they landed in a Swedish minimalist buff book. They don’t know what’s where, what’s what, what we’re on about and what to do next. And once they’ve got the gist, they leave.

To cater to and attract newbies, to keep their attention and profit from their interest, we’re building a new home page. It will contain one or two reviews and a simple, clear search function (for car reviews). The reviews will remain pithy, but become more user friendly. Initially, we’ll bring back the stats and stars, and add a “Why You Should Buy This Car” and a “Why You Shouldn’t Buy This Car” feature (which I designed for Jalopnik).

Eventually, we’ll add [truly] original photography and video, some way cool widgets and lots of helpful, unbiased shopping information (price comparisons, dealer recommendations, etc.).

Meanwhile, on the new home page, editorials will be accessible through title-only links to the Editorials home page. This [Swedish minimalist] navigation assumes that you, our faithful panel of engaged experts, will be able to find your new old home without delay. And again, once there, our talented writers will carry on carping in their own inimitable fashion.

So that I can devote more time and energy to developing the review side of the website, I’m appointing Frank Williams TTAC’s Editorials Editor. Working in the Department of Redundancy Department, Frank will write, commission and schedule our rants. He’ll monitor your replies and snuff out flamers. I’ll still write, but Frank will call the shots.

The basic thinking behind this review-o-centric strategy: focus. I’ve chided automakers for years for not rigidly defining their niche, staying within its confines and maintaining the long-term effort success demands. By making The Truth About Cars the world’s best car review site, I’ll be following my own advice.

Meanwhile, before, during and after our re-launch, I’d like your feedback. In this, the pre-launch phase, I need to know if you think there’s room on the web for a truly independent car review site. I’d also like to hear what functions and features you think we should add to the review mix: comparos, price comparisons, dealer locator, buyer’s club, recommended rides, etc. What should we do that “they” do? How can we innovate?

As always, TTAC lives or dies based on its ability to cater to your needs. We’ve tried tap-dancing for a living, and done well enough. But doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. It’s time for TTAC to get out of the entertainment business, into mainstream infotainment. Oh, and we're also building a MAJOR community site for launch next month (TTAC subs will get a Beta version invite.)

In any case, you have my word that TTAC will never lose its spirit or editorial independence. As the writers and I adjust to this transition, we draw strength from your past support, and inspiration from your suggestions. I will never forget that you gave me the chance to follow my heart’s desire, to work with like-minded individuals to build something fundamentally worthwhile. Thank you for your support.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Optic Optic on Feb 14, 2007

    I know this has been beaten to death at this point, but I wanted to first say that though I complained about some of the cutesy wordplay, I do not think TTAC should tone down the attitude or the high autophile standards of its reviewers. keep the sass, just make sure the writing remains clear and focused on communicating more than being clever. second, I think the way to keep TTAC's character while also improving a bit would be to kill the 800-word limit (as many are saying) but use the extra verbiage not for a bunch of stats but for the writers to explain and justify their opinions a bit more. for example, I often hear writers here say the ride on a car is not very good, and I'd like to hear more about why they think that and what they experienced while driving it. reading such things is entertaining, informs me about the car, and also educates me about what to feel for the next time I drive. bring it on. also I think doing some point/counterpoint would be great. get a couple of your writers, if possible, to drive the same thing and duke out their opinions a bit. two expert, opinionated, literate people arguing about something fun is always interesting.

  • Radimus Radimus on Feb 15, 2007

    I know I'm late to the party on this, but in the new website design I am hoping that some accomodation will be made to make the site accessible and usable to visitors using PDA's and other mobile devices.

  • George Hughes What ever happened to the American can-do attitude. I know what, it was coopted by the fossil fuel industry in their effort to protect their racket.
  • 28-Cars-Later "But Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Franciscan Democrat who wrote the electric school bus legislation, says this is all about the health and wellbeing of Golden State residents. In addition to the normal air pollution stemming from exhaust gasses, he believes children are being exposed to additional carcinogens by just being on a diesel bus."Phil is into real estate, he doesn't know jack sh!t about science or medicine and if media were real it would politely remind him his opinions are not qualified... if it were real. Another question if media were real is why is a very experienced real estate advisor and former tax assessor writing legislation on school busses? If you read the rest of his bio after 2014, his expertise seems to be applied but he gets into more and more things he's not qualified to speak to or legislate on - this isn't to say he isn't capable of doing more but just two years ago Communism™ kept reminding me Dr. Fauxi knew more about medicine than I did and I should die or something. So Uncle Phil just gets a pass with his unqualified opinions?Ting began his career as a real estate  financial adviser at  Arthur Andersen and  CBRE. He also previously served as the executive director of the  Asian Law Caucus, as the president of the Bay Area Assessors Association, and on the board of  Equality California. [url=][1][/url][h3][/h3]In 2005, Ting was appointed San Francisco Assessor-Recorder in 2005 by Mayor  Gavin Newsom, becoming San Francisco’s highest-ranking  Chinese-American official at the time. He was then elected to the post in November 2005, garnering 58 percent of the vote.Ting was re-elected Assessor-Recorder in 2006 and 2010During his first term in the Assembly, Ting authored a law that helped set into motion the transformation of Piers 30-32 into what would become  Chase Center the home of the  Golden State Warriors
  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
  • Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.
  • Jeff The car itself is in really good shape and it is worth the money. It has lots of life left in it and can easily go over 200k.