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YIKES! Autotrader Referral Traffic falls off a cliff in July 2018

Aug 3, 2018
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Kara
All – thank you for your candid feedback about the changes happening at Autotrader. We began launching our All-New Autotrader experience late last year, and have continued to iterate this year, most recently launching our mobile-first car shopping experience. Our clients have consistently told us that Autotrader delivers the highest quality contact with in-market shoppers, and have asked us to deliver more. Our recent changes are designed to do – and are doing – exactly that. Like with any change of this magnitude, we’re seeing shifts in consumer behavior and engagement, causing variability in some of our metrics. And we expect that variability to continue as we work to optimize our site and grow our consumer and client value in the coming months.

Thank you, and please don't hesitate to reach out to your sales rep, or to me directly if you have any other questions.

Kara Womack
AVP, Product – Autotrader
[email protected]
 
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Oct 12, 2011
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Jamie
Thank you for joining the discussion Kara and welcome! I don't think anyone that has made changes to a website, would expect to make judgments without a long enough time to truly measure them. We all know they can be very dynamic environments in themselves, add in macroeconomic influences that make larger environments like ATC even more complex, and you have a very challenging task of measuring. That said, what are your thoughts on the specific topic of referral traffic to us dealers?
 
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Aug 3, 2018
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Kara
Jamie - I'm sorry for the delayed response, and thank you for the warm welcome.

In the end, our goal is truly to help you (and our other dealer partners) sell cars. We are in the early stages of using attribution across our Cox Automotive products to determine what are the best online indicators of offline vehicle sales. We will be focused on improving this ability and driving those actions for our dealers, including referral traffic. You should see improvements to referral traffic in the coming weeks as we continue to test and release site changes.
 
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George Nenni

3rd Base Coach
Apr 13, 2012
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George
Jamie - I'm sorry for the delayed response, and thank you for the warm welcome.

In the end, our goal is truly to help you (and our other dealer partners) sell cars. We are in the early stages of using attribution across our Cox Automotive products to determine what are the best online indicators of offline vehicle sales. We will be focused on improving this ability and driving those actions for our dealers, including referral traffic. You should see improvements to referral traffic in the coming weeks as we continue to test and release site changes.
Thanks Kara, I sat through demos of some of your new attribution tools at NADA, very impressive and look forward to future iterations. We'll keep an eye on Referrals, and hopefully return to some balance of direct lead gen, and website referral traffic.
 
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Alex Snyder

President Skroob
May 1, 2006
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We are in the early stages of using attribution across our Cox Automotive products to determine what are the best online indicators of offline vehicle sales.
You should see improvements to referral traffic in the coming weeks as we continue to test and release site changes.

Thanks for jumping in this thread Kara :thumbup:

@JamieS asked about your thoughts, and I thank you for responding to him. Knowing this community as I do, can you elaborate a bit more? We like details.

Maybe some direct questions will help:

  • Does Cox Automotive know why the referral traffic dropped?
  • Did the drop come after any significant changes on the Autotrader vehicle details page as @georgenenni has theorized?
  • I have heard about an initiative to match statistics throughout all of Cox's products. Do you know when dealers can expect to see matching referral results between Autotrader and Dealer.com?
  • Are you aware of any stat differences between Google Analytics and what Cox shows in ATC/DDC?

Please don't take these questions as a "grilling." DealerRefresh isn't here to be jerks. This community works together to find solutions. It is the sole reason DealerRefresh exists. My questions are rooted in the core of those principles.
 
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Alexander Lau

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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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Apr 16, 2009
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Mike
Hey Mike! You may be right, but I think it is due to the change they made on the their VDPs, moving the dealer website link from the top of the page to nearly the very bottom. This was confirmed on LinkedIn by an Autotrader rep. I checked the referral links, and they all seem to work fine. They are not UTM-tagged, but just straight referrals so GA sorts that out fine.

The m.autotrader referral links are likely down so sharply, since the mobile shopper is less willing to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page vs. the desktop shopper. On desktop it is maybe 4 page scrolls to get to website link, on mobile about 11-12 scrolls.

4 page scrolls. I wouldn't scroll that far a link/CTA, how in good conscience expect a shopper to do so?
On the other hand, except for a very few, shall we say "immovable objects", who the hell uses a desktop? And 11 to 12 scrolls on mobile..... pardon me why I censor myself.....
There is way too much clutter on ATC to warrant them being a serious advertising source anymore, I refer you to the screen shots documenting the drop off of traffic earlier on this thread as evidence one, and the fact that the if it ain't mobile compatible, it's not relatable.... IMHO
 
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Alexander Lau

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Alex
4 page scrolls. I wouldn't scroll that far a link/CTA, how in good conscience expect a shopper to do so?
On the other hand, except for a very few, shall we say "immovable objects", who the hell uses a desktop? And 11 to 12 scrolls on mobile..... pardon me why I censor myself.....
There is way too much clutter on ATC to warrant them being a serious advertising source anymore, I refer you to the screen shots documenting the drop off of traffic earlier on this thread as evidence one, and the fact that the if it ain't mobile compatible, it's not relatable.... IMHO
I couldn't agree more with this assessment.
 
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