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Automotive advertising on the Internet tied to online transactions will change the role of the "brick and mortar" auto dealership forever.

What do technology, the Internet and online transactional tools like Ai Dealer's "self serve" desking application, NeoSynergy's "Buy Direct" and DealMaker.Com's real time bidding system that allows auto dealers to compete for the deal in an open forum have to do with automotive advertising and the evolution of the brick and mortar dealership? Everything!

DealMaker, for example, stores vast databases of every variation of every vehicle available; plus a nationwide database of dealer inventory. The data is continuously uploaded to major search engines. Buyers searching the Internet can then find the exact specification they require, and in just 3 clicks they can place an order, or bid the market with complete anonynimity.

DealMaker provides a Real-time Trading Platform where Buyers and Sellers can buy and sell immediately with no loss of momentum. All bids and offers can be seen by the whole market, so the best deals close first. All terms can be negotiated in the same transaction process, so there are no loose ends. Parties communicate directly to implement delivery, so there are no misunderstandings. The bottom line is that sales can be negotiated and consummated in real time on a virtual showroom with no high pressure sales tactics or misunderstandings to prevent a mutually acceptable transaction.

The low cost and extensive reach of the Internet can create a unique and compelling opportunity to slash the cost of sales which will go directly to the bottom line for auto dealers. Online marketing by manufacturers, dealers, and sales prospecting websites have grown exponentially over the past few years because consumers are looking for a more convenient way to shop for an automobile. Auto dealers have more aged inventory to sell than ever but matching available inventory to consumer demand is still a difficult and time consuming process. DealMaker is the real-time matching engine that turns search results into sales and the ability to accommodate an online transaction can finally be achieved.

Statistically, 80% of new car buyers now use the Internet as their primary source of information when shopping for a new automobile. Additionally, 20% of these buyers declare that they are likely or very likely to buy their next new car online. A further 51% indicate varying degrees of the same. Only 29% say they are not yet ready to buy online. These are reliable conclusions consistent with a number of comprehensive surveys conducted over the past 10 years by some of the world’s largest and most respected automobile industry advisors. It takes very special technology to negotiate sales of automobiles over the Internet, and DealMaker invented it.

Another extremely progressive application, Ai Dealer, allows an online customer to "desk their own deal" after reviewing all of the information they need to make a buying decision. Once the vehicle, price, downpayment, trade value, financing terms and payments are established the customer can make their offer online. If it is accepted by the dealer, they can take delivery at the dealership with little or no need for a salesperson.

NeoSynergy allows a customer to pick a car, make an offer and submit a deposit to hold the vehicle. Linked applications like LeadConverter can establish a dialogue on the virtual showroom that escalates the negotiations, if needed, to a delivery in the real world showroom.

Internet shopping patterns coupled with applications like those above - and many more in development - will allow an online transaction that places the future of the “brick and mortar” dealership at risk. At the very least, its role in the selling process must change as Internet technologies and applied automotive advertising applications mature. Huge investments in real estate, facilities and support staff are hard to justify when a virtual showroom can provide all of the information that a car shopper needs to make a decision for a fraction of the fixed expenses and variable operating costs of a real world auto dealership.

Established wisdoms shared in the auto industry support the need for a real world service center and even a staging area for test drives but the initial shopping experience has already moved online with 85% plus of today’s car shoppers using the internet to first select a vehicle and then select an auto dealer to buy and service it from.

DealMaker.Com, Ai Dealer, Neosynergy and applications like them - present and pending - are introducing cutting edge automotive advertising applications that will allow a virtual showroom to accommodate an online transaction with efficiencies superior to the real world selling process for both the buyer and the seller. The Internet has changed the automotive advertising industry and it is preparing to change the retail auto industry with the ability to replicate proven selling processes online that integrate seamlessly into established real world processes.

The search for an online transaction tool has reached critical mass due to shrinking margins in new and used car sales with increasing costs for auto dealers that are struggling to survive in a down market. Online transaction tools are positioned to take advantage of a clearly defined need in the retail auto industry.

No need to quit your day job as a salesperson or auto dealer just yet, as long as you join the internet and technology revolution as a willing participant. The only constant in the auto industry is change, so get ready to change or get out of the buisiness!

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I think that the issues Brian Hoecht brings up are more closely tied to the success of online car buying processes that are more robust than what is generally used today... The fact is that selling cars online is NOT being restricted by technology, franchise laws or state DMV requirements... The biggest hold back is the trust factor, and lack of trust between dealers, car buyers and OEM's. Until providing full transparency becomes a "given" without each player in this game so unwilling to provide the detailed information and calculations that empowers car buying transparency, transactional capabilities within dealer websites will be the sole domain of a few progressive dealers seeking competitive advantage, and the more progressive enterprise scale retailers that have the guts to provide the complete transparency that online car sales requires, because they want to drive the unnecessary costs out of selling cars so the resulting efficienies allow profitable growth and increased shareholder value..
Also, I would like to comment on Philip's response regarding the tech provider he is discussing here... I have been involved in automotive eBusiness since 1986 when Compuserve became the first ISP to "rent" Internet access outside of military and Academic channels to the average consumer. And, I have seen tech provider after tech provider either improve their products or dissappear, or get acquired... Anything you looked at in the realm of automotive digital marketing technology 6 months ago, you better look at again before you state your position or opinion on that technology. Example; I worked with an early dealer website provider name "Solv" several years ago when I was running the Automark Dealer Website Technology Assisted Sales (TAS) consulting team and to be quite honest, they created more problems than they solved... A few months ago i was inroduced to the leadership of the company that Solv evolved into, Outsell, and i told them thought their technology sucked. Fortunately for me, they were not even phased by my rude commentary and simply asked if I would take the time to look at their stuff again and update my assesment of what they had to offer dealers. Well, I spent 3 hours with their senior leadership going through their history, the past 12 months of R&D results, their performance metrics, case studies, server and application architecture, support systems and teams and the live people that communicate on the dealer's behalf with site visitors that engage a chat session... To be blunt, I was blown away and embarrassed that i had made such a fool of myself by expressing an opinion that was several year out of date. Lesson learned, look an reevaluate before you let out of date observations result in misjudgements and foolish statements.
Thanks once again Ralph for your real life examples of why we know more today than yesterday - but not as much as tomorrow! The TRANSPARENCY of the transaction that you so wisely suggest as the solution to a universal trust and the resulting use of the Internet by the masses is exactly the "missing element" that I believe that ADP, AI Dealer and DealMaker.Com are introducing!

We already know that people are using the Internet to gain information on more than price and product, as proven by the explosive growth of social networking sites like CarFolks.Com that allows consumers to search for - and even contribute to - an auto dealer's online reputation that is then transalted into his reputation and success in both the virtual and the real world.

Even the auto industry is looking to the Internet and auto industry networking sites for answers and best practices including ADM, www.AdAgencyOnline.Net and www.DrivingSales.Com.

That said, that doesn't mean that price no longer matters.

Price will always remain a critical tipping point in a transaction, especially in a challenging economy where every dollar counts - like now!. The transaparency - I like that word - offered by online transactions is enhanced by on open bidding process like the one offered by DealMaker.Com but as the originators have recognized it is still only part of the puzzle. The ease in which the price is arrived at and the PEOPLE AND PROCESSES that helped the customer achieve their "best deal" also contribute to a succesful transaction.

There is no single answer and yet there is one single solution. Give the consumer the information they need to make a decison to buy a car and they will. The trick is to be the dealer that gave it to them!
Hey Ralph,

Given the energy on the issue and the importance of the opportunity to surface a solution to online transactions - today and tomorrow - to benefit both dealers and consumers perhaps we can discuss it on the Lunch With Ralph show this week? Your show, and your agenda, but if you agree I would like to invite Paul and the Brian's from Ai Dealer and DealMaker.Com as well as David Wassman from Neosynergy to join us and the interested ADM members for a continued "spirited" conversation on the subject. What do you think?

PS: Remember, if it get's too heated we can always ignore their call or hang up on them! (Just - almost - kidding)
Hi Bobby,

I am anxiously awaiting your "business model" and product description per our side bar conversation. I am always looking for tomorrow's solutions for my affiliated automotive advertising agencies and auto dealer clients. Ready when you are to discuss shared opportunities!
Hi Booby,

I am still waiting for the "scoop" on your product/services. Will you be at the 5th Digital Dealer Conference in Texas next week. Perhpas we acn meet to discuss shared opportunities and expand on this forum in person?

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