IRVINE, Calif. — Jared Rowe is back, less than two years after leaving Cox Automotive for an opportunity outside the car business. And he’s returning to the company where he started his digital marketing career nearly 20 years ago: AutoWeb, formerly known as Autobytel.

The company announced on Thursday the appointment of Rowe as director, president, and CEO. He succeeds Jeffrey Coats, effective April 12, and brings more than two decades of management experience in the automotive and marketing industries. His career includes stints at FordDirect, Cox Automotive, and most recently Cerberus-backed YP Holdings — where he served as president and played a key role in improving’s business operations and in its eventual sale to Dex Media last year.

“Jared has a strong track record of successfully implementing strategic plans to revitalize automotive businesses competing in the e-commerce industry,” said AutoWeb Chairman Michael Fuchs. “His leadership and restructuring at YP Holdings and Cox Automotive led to material operating improvements and enhanced competitive positioning. Jared will be an invaluable addition to our company as he shares our vision of delivering the highest quality marketing products to dealers and OEMs.”

While at Cox Automotive, Rowe served as president of the media solutions group and was responsible for leading the Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, and Haystack business units. He originally joined the company in 2010 as vice president of product management at Autotrader, and was then named president of Kelley Blue Book before being tapped to oversee Cox’s media solutions group.

Today’s announcement marks his second stint with AutoWeb, having joined the company in 1998 as manager of strategic business development.

“It’s been nearly 20 years since I kicked off my digital marketing career at the former Autobytel. I am excited to rejoin AutoWeb to lead the continued evolution of this digital marketing platform that specializes in providing OEMs and dealers with high-quality, performance managed campaigns,” Rowe said of his appointment. “We have a solid foundation to build from with an established brand, advanced technology, an extremely talented team and clients that value the quality of our products. I look forward to leveraging my experiences to help return AutoWeb to growth by introducing new strategies and initiatives that I believe will unlock the company’s full potential and maximize shareholder value.”

As for Coats, Fuchs said: “I would like to thank Jeff for his many years of service and dedication to AutoWeb. He has been an exceptional CEO for more than a decade and a valued board member since 1996. We look forward to continuing to work with Jeff as he assists Jared during a transition period as a consultant. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”