- Mar 21, 2012
- First Name
Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of dealers speak out against third-party classified websites like AutoTrader, Cars.com, CarGurus, etc by stating that dealers hold all of the power with their inventory.
Is it 2010 still? Let’s be real, that ship has long since sailed. The third-party sites now hold the power with millions of in-market eyeballs and the power of scale. If you’re not on it, your competitors will be and will gain that ever-elusive competitive advantage.
Let me frame it a different way: Amazon, Expedia, Kayak, etc are all third-party marketplaces. Consumers love the convenience of these third-party marketplaces. Don’t you?
Imagine having to check 6 airline websites to find the best flight? Talk about a painful experience.
Now imagine consumers having to check hundreds of car dealer websites to find the best car. Real PITA.
It’s naive to expect consumers to use third-party marketplaces everywhere EXCEPT automotive.
Let me say it again, it’s naive to expect consumers to use third-party marketplaces everywhere EXCEPT automotive.
And if that were the case, it would further accelerate consumers’ desire for disruption in our industry. Let's not add fuel to the fire.
Let’s make car buying as frictionless as possible for shoppers. If that means partnering with a great dealer-friendly marketplace like Cars.com, then so be it. They are going to continue to innovate and help dealers stay competitive in today’s ever-changing market.
Boycotting third parties is taking a step backward in the consumer experience. Sure, it may work for a few dealers, just like the anti-marketplace strategy works for Southwest Airlines. But they are the exception to the rule.
Heck, even the disruptors like Carvana and Vroom list their inventory on all of the third-party marketplaces! Why? Because it works.
And what about the argument that I can use Google Ads to eliminate the need for third parties? Ha, as @brianpasch demonstrated in his most recent report, Google Ads is generally an incredibly expensive and ineffective way to reach in-market car shoppers. If your agency is suggesting you cancel third parties and shift your entire budget to their google ads campaigns, they do not have your best interests in mind.
I admit, I used to be part of the anti-third marketplace crowd, but I’ve come to the realization that for most dealers they are now a necessary and effective digital partner against the disruptors and OEM overreach. In the end, I’m pro customer experience.