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Which 3rd Party Classified Site has the best SRP?

georgenenni

Refresher
Apr 13, 2012
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68
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George
Love 'em or hate 'em, Third-party Classifieds are a proven way to get your new and used vehicles in front of thousands of active car shoppers in your market. These sites drive massive amounts of SRPs (search results pages), VDPs (vehicle detail pages), and leads for your stores. Each of these sites take a different approach with their SRPs, and as a result each has a different tendency to drive shoppers to your VDPs.

Autotrader recently removed a considerable amount of content from their SRPs (multiple pricing, multi-photos indicators, vehicle transmission), with the intention to force more consumers to view your VDPs. Do you agree with this approach, or will it work?

Of the big-three Third Party Classifieds (Autotrader, Cars.com, CarGurus, etc), who has the best SRP in the business?
 
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Jeff Kershner

Founder
May 1, 2005
3,559
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Jeff
Here are the examples from George's article over on the blog... but please be sure to read his entire article!

Here is a look at the big 3 TPC SRPs:

CarGurus’ SRP has 15 vehicles per page, and as mentioned contain both dealer ratings and deal ratings.




Autotrader’s SRP has 25 vehicles per page. They recently changed their SRP pages and eliminated many elements in the process...



Cars.com’s SRP has 50 listings per page, and is by far the most consumer-friendly and dealer-friendly. They display multiple prices, multi-photo indicator, transmission included, as well as a clear call-to-action...

 
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Alex Snyder

President Skroob
May 1, 2006
2,842
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Alex
In the early 2000s we discovered that Autotrader was better for less expensive used cars and Cars.com was better for more expensive ones. In my market Autotrader was stronger with cars priced under $16,000 and Cars.com was better for cars priced above $22,000.

I can't speak for other markets, but I have yet to come across anything disproving my theory of cheaper cars = Autotrader and everything else = Cars.com. So essentially, you could think of Autotrader as a better resource to independent dealers and Cars.com better for most franchised dealers under this theory.

Autotrader's move seems like something that would play better with a less-educated buyer thus continuing to prove this theory.

P.S. Nobody disproved the theory when I worked for Cox ;)
P.P.S. Don't use my pricing as a measuring stick because average vehicle prices have changed significantly since I did my testing.
 

Alexander Lau

Sr. Refresher
Feb 11, 2015
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Alex
Good subject...

Bang on a user group, do a usability study / test on the various pages (SRP and VDP), otherwise it's just guessing and cognitive bias. Not that I think any of those groups do those things, but I could be wrong and impossible to know. CarGurus took advantage of sleeping groups.

 
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ed.brooks

Sr. Refresher
Jan 15, 2010
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Ed
...I have yet to come across anything disproving my theory of cheaper cars = Autotrader and everything else = Cars.com. So essentially, you could think of Autotrader as a better resource to independent dealers and Cars.com better for most franchised dealers under this theory.
I have worked for both companies and there is something you have not considered, @Alex Snyder; as a franchise dealer you had the budget to get your inventory into 'Premium Listings'. Many independent dealers REALLY appreciate the 'level-playing-field' that Cars.com provides, i.e. no tiered listings. This is based on my experience.
 
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Alex Snyder

President Skroob
May 1, 2006
2,842
1,483
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Alex
I have worked for both companies and there is something you have not considered, @Alex Snyder; as a franchise dealer you had the budget to get your inventory into 'Premium Listings'. Many independent dealers REALLY appreciate the 'level-playing-field' that Cars.com provides, i.e. no tiered listings. This is based on my experience.
You have a point there Ed. However, when it came to sales, we didn't see a difference between Premium levels and the lowest OEM mandated levels. If I were to give us any "leg up" I would say we were better at attribution ;) because we experimented like crazy. And we were faster to get on board with good digital merchandising practices.
 
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TeddyJTurner

Getting Refreshed
Aug 6, 2018
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Teddy
I believe CarGurus SRP is well constructed. Taking a look at quality of referral traffic coming from CG vs others on our landing pages (which is materially better), you have to assume that the general SRP architecture is at least partially contributing to more engaged audience!
 
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georgenenni

Refresher
Apr 13, 2012
103
68
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George
I believe CarGurus SRP is well constructed. Taking a look at quality of referral traffic coming from CG vs others on our landing pages (which is materially better), you have to assume that the general SRP architecture is at least partially contributing to more engaged audience!
Teddy, you are spot on, and that is a trend I see consistently. CG referral traffic almost always has longer session duration, and avg. pages per session. Maybe it's the SRP, or the way the consumer finds the CG site, but they are definitely car shopping!
 

TeddyJTurner

Getting Refreshed
Aug 6, 2018
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Teddy
Teddy, you are spot on, and that is a trend I see consistently. CG referral traffic almost always has longer session duration, and avg. pages per session. Maybe it's the SRP, or the way the consumer finds the CG site, but they are definitely car shopping!
Yep, when setting up events too to track both engagement and various conversion actions (calculator usage, mapping dealers directions in Google Maps, calls, chats etc..) it seems to always have better end metrics.
 
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Alexander Lau

Sr. Refresher
Feb 11, 2015
2,194
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Alex
Since CarGurus ranks so much better organically (their SEO tactics and performance are clearly dominant), the probability of CG converting better (for dealer inventory listings) is much, much higher. Yes, a user-tested and bulletproof interface matters (SRP and VDP), but capturing the traffic is just as important (if not more).

Having placement in the organic results creates a sense of trust in the user, and when you are in the top 5 results, you are simply getting more of that traffic on a monthly basis. Can you guess which websites are more likely to receive more leads and sales? Yes, the websites receiving traffic from the more trusted organic results. Organic rankings always equate to higher quality traffic that is much easily converted to a lead or sale.
 
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