Tammy Blythe Goodman

Jun 20, 20174m read

Partner Spotlight: Q&A With Oleg Safronov, CTO of Motorsport.com

Over the past 6 months, Spot.IM has steadily expanded its presence across the web, entering new partnerships with publishers every day. This week, we’re getting to know Motorsport.com which became a Spot.IM partner in March. With a global audience of enthusiastic motor racing fans and professionals, Motorsport.com has grown into a flourishing destination for motorsport news, photos, videos, and live streams, covering every racing series in existence including Formula One, NASCAR, Le Mans, IndyCar, World Rally Championship, and more.

Oleg Safronov, CTO, Motorsport.com

I had a chance to sit down with Oleg Safronov, Motorsport.com’s CTO, to talk about the company’s audience, engagement challenges, and social strategy.

How would you define Motorsport.com’s primary target audience?

Oleg: Our audience lives and breathes motor sports. They’re very dedicated, proud fans and love to talk about all things racing, including what happens both on and off the track. I would say that our audience is somewhat niche because users are extremely passionate about the topic but lack the ability to drive real racing cars. Motorsport.com gives everybody an opportunity to feel live in this racing world.

What have been your biggest challenges with regards to audience engagement?

Oleg: I think every publisher has similar challenges, regardless of the topic. We do have a few competitors in the marketplace. We recognize that motor sport fans have a choice about where to consume this type of content so we are continually striving to offer our audience the most high-quality content available.

Our sister site, Motor1.com, has a broader audience because it targets new and used car enthusiasts. Since Motor1 focuses on all automotive content about cars, sports cars, SUVs, motorcycles and auto shows, we have more competition. As a publisher, we are committed to delivering premium content and the latest news so our audience understands that we are an automotive authority.

How does social interaction play into your editorial strategy?

Oleg: Social engagement is a big part of our strategy. We have a dedicated team that helps us promote our content across all social networks because it’s a large source of our web traffic. We also have in-house community managers that oversee all of the content across our network and try to interact with users to encourage more engagement. Motorsport.com’s audience is very educated about the topics and comments quite often whereas Motor1.com is a fairly new property and it will take some time for this audience to discover how they can benefit from having the range of social features we offer.

Why did you choose to implement Spot.IM?

Oleg: We previously used Livefyre but once we developed multi-lingual editions of the sites on our network, we realized that they could not support all of the languages we needed and they refused to help us. So, we made a shift to Disqus which could handle all of the localization. However, Disqus claimed that they had SSO (single sign-on) but it doesn’t work the way you might think. What happens is that there are actually 2 communities–one community which is yours, and one that belongs to Disqus. When they engage in a discussion, we cannot claim that those users are part of our community and we have no way of reaching them elsewhere.

Around this time, we also acquired a new property and we wanted to use the same commenting platform across all our entire network because it’s a large part of how we drive engagement. Once I started researching other options, I came across Spot.IM on one of our competitive sites and I was impressed because it had all the same capabilities as the other companies. After I reached out to the team, the implementation process was simple – full of fun and joy!

What has your experience with Spot.IM been like so far?

Oleg: Since we launched Spot.IM, we’ve seen an average lift in pageviews across our network by nearly 2 percent, and we’re still in the process of adding the technology to more properties. Overall, we’re very happy with the platform’s functionality and the Spot.IM team is very responsive. There is a lot of room to experiment with the various products they offer beyond commenting so we’re excited about the possibilities. We’re also working together to add 8 new languages including Chinese, Dutch, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, and Ukrainian.

What advice might you have for a digital publisher just starting out?

Oleg: I would say that it’s easy to talk about strategy but everything is about tactics, what you actually do, and how you implement things. Try different strategies and leave a lot of room for mistakes because they will happen. Most importantly, don’t give up. That’s actually our mantra here at Motorsport.com–If you don’t try, you will never know. So, you need to keep experimenting.

Wondering how Spot.IM can increase engagement on your site? Email us at love@Spot.IM.

Tammy Blythe Goodman

Tammy Blythe Goodman is the Sr. Director, Global Communications at Spot.IM. Previously, Tammy managed PR efforts at Innovid and oversaw global communications at Taboola. She is a graduate of American University's School of Communication in Washington, D.C. and earned her MFA in Film from Columbia University.

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