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Autotrader vs Cars.com Value comparison

Rob

Getting Refreshed
Apr 9, 2011
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Rob
My dealership lists our inventory on both Cars.com and Autotrader. Autotrader costs more, of course, which would be fine... if it delivered more value.

The problem is that it doesn't.

Throughout the entire year of 2011, an Autotrader SRP cost me over twice as much as a Cars.com SRP.

Worse, an Autotrader VDP cost me 4 times as much as a Cars.com VDP.

This, of course, has me thinking long and hard about dropping Autotrader to spend that money elsewhere more wisely. Has anyone else done a similar SRP / VDP cost / value comparison between The Big Two?
 

ddavis

Sr. Refresher
Jun 28, 2011
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Doug
Rob, I'm familiar with your store being in Dallas. I have always had good results with AutoTrader. The ROI was always good with Cars because it is cheaper.
The customer gets a lot more information on AutoTrader than Cars. The area on the SRP is larger. I looked at a couple of vehicles that you had on AutoTrader. One was a used Town and Country Touring. There was a cheaper LX above you. Your description is: Shopping should be FUN and at IPAC it is. You are considering making a big purchase and we understand and want to make the process as smooth as possible. We are here to provide all the information you may need to make the best purchase for you and... I would suggest that more people will click on this if it sell the car instead of the dealership.
With the cheaper vehicle above you, the first few lines should state the features that separate it from the LX: Beautiful leather Interior, power passenger doors, stow & go etc.
The same is true with new vehicles. You don't have any descriptions on them. Seeing how your vehicles are well priced, I believe that if you add descriptions, you will see better results.
 

Rob

Getting Refreshed
Apr 9, 2011
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Rob
Thanks for the feedback. Over the years, I've gone back and forth with writing custom comments and not. Though I see the theoretical value of writing great comments, what I've never seen is an actual increase in VDP's, emails, phone calls, or trackable sales. Given the time investment... I can't make sense out of writing them.

On Autotrader we don't pay for a new car package, so we just have the free listings. In the past we've been both Featured and Premium on the new car side, with zero results to show for the big bill each month.

One question - if the SRP area is larger with AT than with CC, any idea why I get a drastically higher number of SRP's on Cars.com? Cars.com delivers more SRP's, more VDP's (by a huge percentage,) more leads, and more trackable sales, at least for me.
 

ddavis

Sr. Refresher
Jun 28, 2011
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Doug
Rob, I didn't notice if the new car listings were premium or not. I did notice that you topped the list (best price). There may not be any premium dealers in that category.
Cars.com doesn't give you the space to write a description. I had a library of descriptions for my new cars. I wrote custom descriptions for each used car. It was time consuming. I have had months where we led the Metroplex with VDPs from AutoTrader. This was a single point Nissan store.
 

ajholland

Refresher
Nov 29, 2009
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Aaron
One question - if the SRP area is larger with AT than with CC, any idea why I get a drastically higher number of SRP's on Cars.com? Cars.com delivers more SRP's, more VDP's (by a huge percentage,) more leads, and more trackable sales, at least for me.
Unless it has changed, SRP's are always higher on Cars.com reporting because they report every time you come up in a search, even if you are on page 10 and the customer doesn't get that far. ATC only reports an SRP if the customer gets to the page your vehicle is listed on. I'm not sure of your market, but a lot could depend on your program and the program your competitors are on. If you are aggressively priced, you may get great results from Cars.com. However, on ATC, you may be aggressively priced but could be buried behind Premium dealers. If this is the case, you may want to look at the potential ROI of bumping up to a Premium program to see if it's a good fit.

Also, what about the non-trackable results? Do you have any type of exit survey..you never know, in your area ATC might blow away Cars.com with walk-ins.
 

ajholland

Refresher
Nov 29, 2009
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Aaron
For what it's worth, we cancelled Cars.com about 1 1/2 years ago, kept ATC and haven't looked back.
 

Ryan Thompson

Sr. Refresher
Apr 21, 2010
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Ryan
This thread could be turned into an E-Book. DealerRefresh at it's best!! really enjoying these different perspectives. I wouldn't even call this an AT vs Cars.com discussion. It is now "Advertising on 3rd party sites - Best Practices".
 
Reactions: 1 person

jscole86

Refresher
Mar 2, 2011
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Josh
[FONT=Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif]About 4 months ago, I was told about a difference of how ATC and cars.com calculates an SRP from our reps... Say you are searching and pull up an SRP, then click on a details page, and then click back to the SRP, cars.com will count this as 2 SRP's, where ATC counts this as 1 SRP because the consumer simply went back to the last page. That might be 1 reason why there is a distinct difference in SRP counts. We are actually in the same boat in that our cost per vdp is 3 times less for cars.com, but we also pay 3 times less than ATC... We get more results as a whole with ATC though between the walk in traffic, the referral traffic to our dealer site, and phone ups.
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ddavis

Sr. Refresher
Jun 28, 2011
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Doug
jscole86, You are correct. Remember also that Cars.com lists more vehicles on a page than AutoTrader. As long as you are on a page that contains your car, you get credit for a SRP.

Internet customers are greedy for information. They tend to click through to your website, searching for more information. If they click through to your website, from AutoTrader, you will think that your website was the source.
 

john.quinn

Sr. Refresher
Dec 2, 2009
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John
Didn't we just have this discussion? I remember there was some convincing evidence that the Cars.com SRP counts as described here were nothing more than rumor and false -- the only definable SRP truth was that Cars has more results on the page.
 
Reactions: 1 person