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Autotrader vs Cars.com Value comparison

ddavis

Sr. Refresher
Jun 28, 2011
1,493
491
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Doug
For instance we seen users shift away from email as a primary method for of lead generation, opting to remain anonymous
"Remaining anonymous" is much like cars.com reps. I couldn't pick my last two cars.com reps out of a line up. I haven't seen one in three years. With my recent move to Phoenix, it might be different. Cars.com has always performed for me. If it ever slipped, I wouldn't hesitate to cancel them. You can't feel any loyalty to people that you don't know.

The Dallas Morning News (Belo) Rep used to bring the annual contracts by to get them signed.
 

joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
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Joe
DD,

In my territory, my AT and cars.com reps are best of class.
 
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ryanabbott

Refresher
Dec 12, 2011
105
25
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Ryan
DD,

In my territory, my AT and cars.com reps are best of class.
I can vouch for this as well. My Cars.com rep is fantastic as was my Autotrader rep. I say was b/c we just moved away from them.
 
Reactions: 1 person

ddavis

Sr. Refresher
Jun 28, 2011
1,493
491
113
First Name
Doug
DD,

In my territory, my AT and cars.com reps are best of class.
Joe, I had a great relationship with AutoTrader and have developed some long-term friendships. I am a firm believer in display advertising and I think it was key to my success when I was in Dallas. I am very supportive of the product.
 

joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
3,990
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Joe
Joe -
....I’ll disagree with you on your statements about failure to improve our platform. Consumer behavior has changed dramatically in the past few years, and I think we’ve innovated extremely well to address these important shifts in consumer behavior. ... Lastly, while we don’t publicize these tests for obvious reasons, we are currently running A/B versions of our more details (VDP) on the main site. Expert further innovation there as well. As always, happy to hear suggestions or questions directly…..I can be reached directly at [email protected].
Alex,

Is the dog wagging the tail, or the tail wagging the dog?

I am on the outside looking in, but I cannot recall any significant changes to the VDP over time. Regardless whether I see any or not, I would like to make light to one other issue to factor in.

My small pool of data shows that the car dealer used car buying cycle has a sweet spot around the 28 to 40 month mark. So, you must ask yourselves how many cycles your Cars.com shoppers have been thru with you!! 1,2, 3 car purchases?? IMO, you must consider the repeat visitors "blind eye" to buttons and features (and advertisments) that do not help them with their shopping task.

All I am trying to say is that the few shoppers that did use your forms in the past would be LESS LIKELY to use them again if the shoppers found little gain from using these forms. Ergo, your comment above where you're noticing a new trend of shoppers that are less likely to submit a lead.
 

joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
3,990
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Joe
Alex,

Sorry, I'm on a roll!!

When it comes time to review page optimization and split testing and you want to challenge your team on it's past work (and the resources they've been given) I very highly reccomend the consultant work of John Ross, CEO of Shopper Sciences. Found him in a Google ThinkAuto conference video. His insights have profoundly changed my digital marketing mission and message for 2012.


Here is the ThinkAuto presentation.
It's a 3hr video. Guy Kawasaki is a treat, but John Ross is at 1:06:00.


IMO, John Ross's data and insight has no peer. The chart below is at 1:32:18.

View attachment 469

This chart is chuck full of rich insights into what really matters and what the internet's roll is to a car dealer and the car shopper.
 

jssimonton

Getting Refreshed
Mar 9, 2011
39
16
8
First Name
Jeff
Cars.com has been somewhat bipolar...

We have an actual field rep, and she is fantastic. Love the information, the competitive scores and what new and different things are working elsewhere. Most importantly, we actually trust her.

Our store served by the national rep from Chicago has not done as well. Lies, deception and working their pay plan at our expense has been our experience. We're now pushing to have our field rep work with us for this store.

We don't have a store in a Cars.com newspaper market.

So... we love Cars.com and we hate Cars.com. I completely understand how people in different markets have different things to say about the company.
 

lightnup

Noob
Nov 21, 2009
17
14
8
First Name
Stanley
Joe - ATC and cars.com constantly test market different looks, layouts and features in selected markets. These A/B tests aren't announced in part because those of us who inhabit these forums would take what's being tested and turn it into a litany of "Why are they doing that, here's what I would do" and also to keep competitors from erroneously saying "Look what cars.com or AT is going to do" when in fact they may not actually be going to do any such thing. If ATC tested a purple background, surely someone here would suggest it's in preparation for being sold to Cars.com. Do you announce to the other dealers in your market what you are testing on your site(s)?

Have you not seen the bigger main photo on the redesigned AT VDP? The FrontLine New Car listings with a filmstrip of all same models in inventory in a much larger New car SRP? The Facebook, Twitter and Review site links on the VDP? The larger, cleaner, redesigned spotlights on the SRP? The prominent link to the dealer's website on the VDP? The second Skyscraper on the SRP (search Dodge in 30066)? Moving the email module to the more noticable left side of the VDP? Cross comparison of New models to the Used model on the SRP and VDP? All of these changes don't take place on a whim. They are the result of the same diligent market testing and analysis of comparative effectiveness results that you employ for your site.

Give the guys and gals at AT and cars.com some credit. Despite nearly 10 years of their demise being predicted regularly every time another shiny new object comes out, they are both still going strong, adapting, innovating and growing. Just my .02 cents.
 
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joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
3,990
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Joe
Joe - ATC and cars.com constantly test market different looks, layouts and features in selected markets....[snip]....Give the guys and gals at AT and cars.com some credit. Despite nearly 10 years of their demise being predicted regularly every time another shiny new object comes out, they are both still going strong, adapting, innovating and growing. Just my .02 cents.
litenup,

Don't take my critizism litterally. I am sure you split test and optimize. I arrive at MY conclusion because I see no significant change in lead counts. Are you optimizing for lead counts?

Heres my end-user summary

LEAD TRENDS
2008 AT + Cars = 181 p/mo
2009 AT + Cars = 175 p/mo
2010 AT + Cars = 143 p/mo
2011 AT + Cars = 147 p/mo

Lightenup, lead flow is all we see. There's LITTLE deviation in these numbers (We all understand the soft market we just went thru). Our efforts influence lead counts, My merchandising processes are not perfect, but, they are consistent.

From my seat, optimizing and split testing lives or dies on the new ideas you'd like to test. These new ideas come from creative thinkers, from marketing rigor and from lessons learned from other -more mature- industries.

Summary:
I am sure you all are not sitting on your hands, we all just don't see a lot of change. Are you really trying to CHALLENGE your existing model, or are you plugging holes in the dike.
 

joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
3,990
1,514
113
First Name
Joe
EXAMPLE: eBay allows dealers to get in there and create/edit/improve/personalize each ad.

Have you ever thought to see what creative would happen if you gave a couple dozen power dealers a WYSIWYG Template editor to build their own presentation?

Think about it.... You would have created:
  • the explosion of dealer content (video, pics, links, forms, coupons and on and on),
  • the elimination of visual repetition (aka BULLET LIST BOREDOM),
  • the additional commitment the dealer would need to make to your platform...
Sounds like Win-Win to me! What do you say DR community, would you hunker down and build a custom AT VDP template, then circle back and drop custom offers on the VDPs? (like a walk around video, or special coupon on an aged unit, or...)

Game. Set. Match.
 
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