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Does Autotrader think we're all oblivious?

Sep 16, 2009
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Can anyone tell me what a customer, and/or dealership, could possibly gain from Autotrader having
Pre-Owned vehicles default from highest price to lowest on a customer search other than increase their page views for their stockholders and future subscribers? Does Autotrader do anything without Wall Street and increased revenue in mind?:nono:
Visit Generations Digital

Jeff Kershner

May 1, 2005
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Mitchell, I never really thought about it that way. That's merely a trick of the trade I guess. With time if the consumer finds this to be a true annoyance, it will have a negative effect on their long term strategy, especially as other sites come to the market.

IMO we let the chip falls and see what happens.
Aug 20, 2009
First Name
Mitchell, I never really thought about it that way. That's merely a trick of the trade I guess. With time if the consumer finds this to be a true annoyance, it will have a negative effect on their long term strategy, especially as other sites come to the market.

IMO we let the chip falls and see what happens.
I asked this question as well and all I received were a couple pairs of shrugged shoulders.

My guess is it has something to do with generating ad dollars from manufacturers.

If you sort it low to high, you get independent used car stores and franchise stores with off-brand inventory up top. On the high-end of the pricing scale you will have franchise stores with CPO inventory. If you sort it high to low, CPO inventory comes up at the top along with OEM banner ads promoting various incentives for CPO cars. Just my guess.
Apr 29, 2009
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Intermountain Auto
I have had this discussion many times with my rep (and I used to be one!) AutoTrader.com is a dealer focused site, not a consumer focused site. Whatever dealer wants to throw the most money at them they will let thier inventory be the first thing the consumer sees even if it isn't what the consumer searched for. It has become all about stroking a dealers ego, just like TV was a few years ago. I told my rep that we were going to drop ATC due to the fact that we are re-branding our store and the website and will be using TV, Radio and social media to do so. He said that was the dumbest thing he ever heard. I then asked him how ATC gets the millions of users every month? HMMMMM TV and Radio maybe. He had no answer for me. I am using the same model they use to Brand and drive traffic to the site and was told that was the dumbest idea he had ever heard. I wonder if his company knows that he feels that way?
Just sayin.

Alex Snyder

President Skroob
May 1, 2006
First Name
Autotrader....my favorite topic :rolleyes:

Be interesting to see how they fare over the next 5 years. I definitely DO NOT consider them to be the 800lb gorilla they think they are.

Brian Pasch

8 Pounder Veteran
Apr 26, 2009
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I have to agree with your assessment Alex. Their model, as well as a few other large players, is becoming an easy pickoff as localized search and SEO tactics eat away at local search views. I have a vision......
Increase Test Drive Appointments!


Full Sticker
Nov 21, 2009
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You guys crack me up with the conspiracy theories. How come this question was not asked about cars.com, whose prices are also listed highest to lowest by default?

Logically, when ranked from highest to lowest by default, shoppers will scroll through all of the listings while on the way to what they consider their price range and, like most people, will continue to scroll below that hoping for an even better price. Exposure to all dealers' inventory in all price ranges is maximized this way (assuming the shopper hasn't entered a specific price range preference).

If inventory was ranked lowest to highest, shoppers would stop looking when they get to the high end of what they consider their price range and avoid looking at listings beyond that. Higher priced vehicles, even though the prices are justified (CPO, extremely low mileage, still under warranty, etc.) would receive much less exposure. Not many people think, "Gee, let's see if we can find a higher priced one."

By default, consumers see all inventory in a 25 mile radius, so local dealers are prioritized. If the consumer wishes, they can expand their search radius to see dealer inventory from farther away, or restrict it to just 10 miles. They have the option of sorting their searches by year, make/model, price, distance and vehicle mileage.

I don't see the problem.


Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
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Autotrader has always had the high to low price sort default. Not long ago they switched to low to high price sort as default and... Mitchell nailed it... the traffic metrics must have fallen because they went back to high to low price sort.

AutoTrader and Cars.com live or die on Google's decision to let them live. Short tail search "Used Cars" is THE money phrase that drives used car traffic. I've warned Dale Pollack on this, God help them if Google decides to "give local priority" to this search term, it'll be the end of them. There is chatter in the real estate SEO sites that I follow that Google's latest update (called Google Caffeine) has given local real estate sites more authority over the national classified sites.

On the other hand,... Google is all about the "search experience". 3rd party classified sites are far Our industry are far more shopper friendly (as compared to real estate). As long as AT and Cars.com keep delivering a great service to shoppers, they should not loose their position.

Dealer sites are too fragmented, lots of 3rd party classified sites exist and fall short, IMO, AT and Cars.com is not going anywhere.
Apr 28, 2009
First Name
Mr. ATC,

Your answer makes sense to me and I have to agree with your logic. What they should be complaining about are the crazy prices you all charge.

I would love to see all dealers come together to build and promote their own automotive search engine. The non profit organization would consist of a small staff to build and maintain the site. Most of the "minimal" fees collected would be used to promote the site. I'd love to see Jay Leno as the pitchman. The site would not have any banner ads directing customers to other sites.

It's just nuts that dealers have to pay Auto Trader and Cars.com to do something they could easily do themselves. I understand you all need to charge a premium to cover all the feet on the street and advertising, but $8000 for your super duper special golden listings, that's just crazy. The fact that most dealers are paying for both services; well that just doesn't make any sense.

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Brent Palen

8 Pounder Veteran
Jul 21, 2009
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Hi Autotrader guy! GLAD TO HAVE YOU HERE!!! I am sure like the rest of us on this site you joined to gain some insight and help others in the industry succeed.

I sure would like to do better with my Autotrader listings but in order to do that I would have to pay twice as much as I am right now. Not sure what would happen then. Right now when someone searches for a used Impala within 10 miles of my zipcode they will be plowed over by a "Premium" listing for a dealership 60 MILES AWAY:cursin: OUR IMPALAS ARE NOT EVEN ABOVE THE FOLD!!!! Expand to fifty miles and the customer has to scroll down to the bottom of the earth to find the vehicle that is closest to home and the dealer that will pay the taxes that build their schools and libraries!!!

I guess I could pay the extra $'s to get the top spot. You know, the "Premium" listing. But wait...what happens when all the dealers in my area pay up. Then do I have to pay even more for the "Super Fantastic Premium Listing?" Even if my dealer gave me the "ok" I would not do it just on principle. Its a racket and its bad for the industry.

Is it even legal?
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