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If You Dropped AutoTrader - Where would you put the Money

Mar 21, 2012
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Ryan
We've canceled 1 or 2 of the third parties at a lot of our stores over the past couple of years but are actually finding ourselves sign back up in some cases now.

Why?

A lot of our competitors have canceled as well, so now when a customer searches for a new "X brand" in "Y zip code" on the third-party sites, there are no results. Yet the third-party sites still rank 1-3 organically on Google for those high volume searches. Easy way to increase market share in select circumstances.
 
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Dan Sayer

Boss
Dec 4, 2009
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Dan
We've canceled 1 or 2 of the third parties at a lot of our stores over the past couple of years but are actually finding ourselves sign back up in some cases now.

Why?

A lot of our competitors have canceled as well, so now when a customer searches for a new "X brand" in "Y zip code" on the third-party sites, there are no results. Yet the third-party sites still rank 1-3 organically on Google for those high volume searches. Easy way to increase market share in select circumstances.
Do you see a future where you, or any other dealer, can rank organically 1 - 3 on dynamic inventory campaigns for new/used "Year, Make, Model, Trim, etc"?
 
Mar 21, 2012
379
445
Awards
1
First Name
Ryan
Do you see a future where you, or any other dealer, can rank organically 1 - 3 on dynamic inventory campaigns for new/used "Year, Make, Model, Trim, etc"?
Do you? :)

Of course every dealer wants to and believes they deserve to, but when you're honest with yourself...what's a better user experience for the customer:

Landing on a small dealership site with 50 vehicles in-stock or a portal site with hundreds or thousands of vehicles available?

A brave OEM and dealer body could create their own third party listings site, easily rank 1-3 organically, and eliminate/reduce the need for a dealer to be signed up with a third party site. This would free tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars up in dealers' marketing budgets and allow them to spend the money elsewhere and actually work at increasing brand market share. We'll have to see how Ford's new pre-owned listing site does...

But to answer your question, yes it is possible and we have done it / do it. However, it's extremely difficult with some markets and brands. And you can never rest, Google's SEO algorithms are always evolving.
 

Alexander Lau

Banned
Feb 11, 2015
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Alex
 

Alexander Lau

Banned
Feb 11, 2015
2,498
765
First Name
Alex
Do you? :)

Of course every dealer wants to and believes they deserve to, but when you're honest with yourself...what's a better user experience for the customer:

Landing on a small dealership site with 50 vehicles in-stock or a portal site with hundreds or thousands of vehicles available?

A brave OEM and dealer body could create their own third party listings site, easily rank 1-3 organically, and eliminate/reduce the need for a dealer to be signed up with a third party site. This would free tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars up in dealers' marketing budgets and allow them to spend the money elsewhere and actually work at increasing brand market share. We'll have to see how Ford's new pre-owned listing site does...

But to answer your question, yes it is possible and we have done it / do it. However, it's extremely difficult with some markets and brands. And you can never rest, Google's SEO algorithms are always evolving.
Yes, eloquently stated. Absolutely, especially the part about SEO algorithms constantly evolving. Ain't no way Google, etc. want SEOs or whomever to figure out the total equation. They are in it to SELL ADS. That said, you still could rank and for long periods of time. I see it all of the time, just take a gander at any solvent (mostly non-automotive) SEO tool(s).
 

rickyfay

Lot Lizard
Aug 6, 2020
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Ricky
Our team has done some deep CRM diving on AutoTrader and lead sources lately. The conclusion is we're canceling AutoTrader, which seems to be a growing trend among most dealers I speak with. In Q3 and Q4, plus Q1 of this year, we have sold a staggering............... 4 vehicles off AutoTrader. We get leads, phone calls etc, however they are the worst lead source we have by far, hard to appoint, and have a close rate even worse than GM 3rd Party Leads. We are paying $3,700mo. I have sent a cancellation to them last week.

So if you had an additional $3,700 to market your store and drive traffic, how would you use it?
I lobbied against ny dealership dropping AutoTrader with no luck. I had AutoTrader do an attribution study to get real numbers. We then kept them. Although we experienced the same dismal numbers in our CRM in actuality there were, on average, 12 used cars deals a month where the client had been on AutoTrader looking at the vehicle they bought. I know it's hard to put money into advertising that your CRM doesn't show a return on but client's are indeed using AutoTrader and Cars.com. Internet clients are more often then not finding thier used car on 3rd party sites then either calling to confirm availability or just showing up with no way for you to know where they came from. If you are determined to spend elsewhere the TV space that everyone fled from with the rush to digital would be my choice.
 

Dan Sayer

Boss
Dec 4, 2009
280
258
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Dan
The best part about this thread is it died last year September then a spammer posted about cryptocurrency two-weeks ago, which @Jeff Kershner deleted, and fired it back up LOL. Still a valid conversation. Thanks Spammers. You are the "Squirrel!" of the interwebs.
 
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georgenenni

3rd Base Coach
Apr 13, 2012
161
124
First Name
George
Well said @Dan Sayer , the active thread caught my attention. Our dealers have seen cost/conversion on 3rd party sites climb over our benchmarks (<$50) since discounts removed in July. Autotrader and Cars hit worst for small and medium size stores. Carfax and Gurus have returned to pre-pandemic metrics. Conversion rates declining also, time lag increasing from first visit to conversion, making retargeting more important. Of the 3rd party retargeting, I like the results from Cars Social the best.
 

joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
4,065
1,575
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Joe
There is so much money sloshing around Auto retail, I'm surprised that no giant player has mapped out the internet car shopping universe on a user flow map (i.e. Google Analytics user flow map).

Plus, I'd love to see a study with 1st party data that would separate the dealer's past customers and show how this past relationship influences the shoppers engagement.
 

Dan Sayer

Boss
Dec 4, 2009
280
258
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1
First Name
Dan
There is so much money sloshing around Auto retail, I'm surprised that no giant player has mapped out the internet car shopping universe on a user flow map (i.e. Google Analytics user flow map).

Plus, I'd love to see a study with 1st party data that would separate the dealer's past customers and show how this past relationship influences the shoppers engagement.
And conversely, to see what was true conquest. As our data and tracking technology gets better, privacy increases so true attribution and the entire trackable journey seems like it's just as far away as it was 5 years ago.