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My Autotrader rep strolled in this week to pitch "Alpha." My first reaction to his pitch was that ATC was adding another level of advertising that would further devalue the "Partnership" we now have. To me, this is the straw that broke the camel's back. I firmly believe it's time to move on from ATC and redistribute the ridiculous sum we send to Atlanta every month. I realize that ATC is a hot-button topic for most of us. I'd like to hear about the experiences and results some have had by canceling ATC and reallocating that money to other Digital Advertising.

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Mike,

OK, now that you have given us the objective opinion... Tell us about what you sell and what makes it a good value to dealers... We all want to know as much as we can about the digital marketing landscape out there and the publications, both online and offline that you present offer a credible and viable solution for dealers... So, give us your pitch, man... Enquiring minds want to know! Besides all that, I cannot help but root for the Autotrader.com competitors out there, as competition is what we need in the online inventory publication game!
Hey guys, this is Meg Strout with EveryCarListed.com. I can't tell you how fun it was to come across your discussion! If you have any questions about the site, our partners or how to list your dealerships, please let me know, I'd be happy to help any way I can!


- Meg
Hey Ralph,

Sorry for the delay answering your request. I work for AutoMart.com which is part of CoxAutoTrader. One of the main differences with AutoMart.com and the other 3rd Party Inv sites is we are dealer exclusive, no private party listings. Some dealers do not like that idea however one of the biggest benefits of dealer exclusive is dealer inventory exposure does not get diluted in the search results. When you look at results such as unique visitors, our traffic is as pure as possible with buyers looking for their next car. We don't have the shoppers like other sites that are looking to see what other people are selling their car for online.

Along with the digital side, AutoMart.com offers the print side also, again dealer exclusive and unlike other magazines, it is 100% display advertising for dealer branding and inventory listing.

AutoMart.com makes it pretty easy for the dealer to list all of their used inventory and doesn't "al a carte" the dealer to death. Unlike the other sites out there our package is all inclusive excluding new car and video. Some of the features of AutoMart.com:
-Unlimited Used car inventory
-up to 12 photos per car
-toll free # included
-Dealer Feature Ad (mini banner) at the top of search results pages
-Largest dealer logo offered online on every vehicle
-Instant messaging on unlimited dealer computers and smartphones
-Credit help branding tile and credit app on our credit help page
-more options to contact the dealership on each car including on the search results listings
-Cars the get over 30 MPG are highlighted with a green gas pump on the search results listings
-Full backend reporting available to the dealer 24/7
-Complete branding for the dealership with traffic generated from our SEO/SEM campaigns and weblinks from the print.
-We just introduced mobi to the market with mobi.automart.com for web enabled phones. One of the big feaures is click to call when the customer finds your car online!
- For GM dealers (excluding Cadillac) we are "turn key" provider for GM Certified vehilcles. They will pay 50% of the investment from COOP funds for all of your used cars to be listed online(GM conditions apply). Depending on the content of your print, they will COOP that also!
- ONE experienced rep to handle the Internet and Print components

These are the basics of the Gold Plus package which is our top package. The dealer has the option of adding New Car inventory and videos for all the used inventory if they choose.

With the ease of use and the numerous options in contacting dealers, our website has actually become a preferred site for the female shopper, which by all studies account for 81% of the purchases made. When you compare us to the other sites online, they usually skew to the male buyer, at AutoMart.com our traffic is 56% female. Nothing like getting the decision maker involved from the beginning! Recently we were highlighted on the Rachel Ray show on July 4th. I invite you to take a look at the segment on the link https://webmail.coxatp.com/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.you... , unfortunately they did perpetuate the preconception of the car salesperson but beyond that they recommended the site.

This is just a short introduction, I would be happy to expand on the features and benefits as well as the advantages of adding AutoMart.com to the media mix in a dealership.

Let me know if you have any questions and always your comments are greatly appreciated.

Mike
AutoTrader has replaced the newspaper for the source of used car research. Unfortunately it works just like Google-not many people will go deeper than a couple of pages. AutoTrader is like an oversold realestate market. You can find cheaper houses way out in the burbs but its a helluva commute. This means they can charge whatever they want as long as dealers are willing to pay the price of being on the first couple of pages. If you are not willing to pay the price, get out and invest somewhere else. There is little benefit in my experience unless you are "all in".
I have always tried to see the good in all vendors, and I tried to reply when this forum challenging AutoTrader.Com was first posted - but I couldn't think of anything good to say!

I will however reply with some positive reinforcement for the "new kid on the block" and share in Ralph's excitement that there is now a competitor to AutoTrader.Com that will level the playing field - EveryCarListed.Com, (ECL).

EveryCarListed.Com has a robust product and service that is masked by their simple "customer friendly" design. Their bridge to consumers starts with their "For Sale By Owner" section, but of more interest is the next generation of enhancements that are rumored to be more in synch with the exploding consumer "social networking" like forums.

That aside - their upgraded packages offer more than just a position at the head of the line. They already have strategic partnerships with Gumiyo to develop their EveryCarListed.mobi site to capitalize on the text mesaging mobile channel to deliver their listings to a cell phone or PDA and their relationship with SiSTeR Technologies Video CarLot is in place with the option to convert every listing to a professional video. Rumor has it that they are working to enhance their video service capabilities to include the "Push Tube" feature already offered by SiSTeR Technologies that pushes EVERY video with embedded search words and meta tags through a dedicated API with You Tube tied to the search engines, That will virtually GUARANTEE a number one position on most search engines with direct links back to ECL and the listing dealer - talk about SEO Dominace! A dealer with 300 cars listed will technically have 301 virtual showrooms pushed through You Tube with every vehicle wrapped in a branding message tied back to the dealer including a CarFax report - seriously!!

ECL has hit the ground running with over 19,000 dealers and two million vehicles in just 60 days. Sure, FREE listings haven't hurt but three OEM's - Ford, GM and Chrysler - have spearheaded their entry into the market with their posting of their CPO vehicles and there are some conventional "real world" under pinnings to their virtual automotive advertising platform to support their long term marketing plan that will insure their dominant position in their vertical.

The Yellow Pages, which supports EveryCarListed.Com, was the "internet" of yesterday! It was the information resource of choice for several generations of car buyers. Even today they have an overwhelming dominance in the shrinking world of business directories that can't be dismissed - not yet at least! Every salesperson in the US for the YP is now being directed to focus on promoting ECL. Major markets have "donated" advertisements for ECL on the covers and in every section of the YP - NOT JUST AUTOMOTIVE - EVERY SECTION!

Their subliminal branding message of EveryCarListed.Com for everyone looking for a Dentist, Plumber - and yes, even an automobile - will develop a conventional marketing message in the real world that will overwhelm any competitor in the virtual world. Conventional marketing is extended into TV, print and billboards with a similar added value for the dealers posted on their site.

I interviewed Dale Boone, their COO, and Darrell Campbell, their CEO, on my blog talk radio show "Automotive Advertising Experts" posted on AdAgencyOnline.Net and I suggest that my fellow ADM members listen to these guys. I am sure that after you hear it first hand that you will have the answer to the question raised in this forum!

(I don't want to say anything bad about anyone - especially since I have AutoTrader.Com in too many auto dealer clients to dismiss them! That said , I suggest that you form your own opinion on AutoTrader.Com of yesterday and today vs. the Ev
I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the fact that out of over 20,000 dealers whose inventory is listed within Autotrader.com, less than 6,000 of them pay ANYTHING to Autotrader.com. Does everybody know that Autotrader.com accepts inventory feeds from dealers who do not sign a fee based contract? That's because the inventory is what compells consumers to visit Autotrader.com... Without the inventory data, Autotrader.com has little use or value to consumers, and without consumers, guess how much value Autotrader.com would have to dealers?

Lastly, if 14,000 out of 20,000 dealers rely on the free listings in Autotrader.com, are they all idiots, or do they know something that the other 6,000 do not?

Oh, and if my numbers are off, because I am sure it is something like 6,242 out of 28,366 pay Autotrader.com, then I apologize, but hopefully our ADM members will understand the principle.
Hey Uncle Ralph,

I knew that - as do my clients who have not seen the value in their packages. I am curious, since I noticed that you had a request for information on EveryCarListed.Com in your prior response to this forum, if you have formed any opinion on them - or if you have anything to add to my brief synopsis of ECL?
I have not had the opportunity to look into ECL as thoroughly as you have, but I believe they are a venture best characterized as a consortium of Yellow Page Book advertising companies. In that regard, they seem analogous to the Cars.com joint venture of multiple newspaper publishers. I am a big fan of Cars.com because they have stayed focused on delivering more value to dealerships than what they take, and that is where I believe Autotrader.com has lost something... Autotrader.com seems like all they care about is take, take and then go back to the dealer and take some more. There is no focus on AT's part in delivering value, relative to their focus on getting more money each month out of as many car dealers as they can get to give it to them.

If ECL develops an approach similar to Cars.com, then I will be recommending them, but it is too soon for me to form an opinion, other than I welcome the entrance of a new competitor into the inventory listing services segment of digital marketing. The biggest problem I have with Autotrader.com is the money they get away with charging, other than that, I like what they deliver.

But, I also like what newspapers deliver... My problem is they charge at least 10 times what they are worth! All you have to do is take a look at the presentation that an ADM member delivered at ENG Automotive CRM Conference last August where he tracked costs and profits generated from Autotrader.com and Cars.com... His analysis showed that Cars.com generates a 600% better ROI per dollar spent than Autotrader.com. I have seen similar analysis done by other dealers and groups, and they all turn out similar results. When dealers ask me about Cars.com and Autotrader.com, because of the huge ROI differential, I always recommend buying Cars.com and other high ROI listing services first, and then use whatever budget remains to negotiate with Autotrader.com. And, if anyone here's that Autotrader.com does not negotiate, that is absolutely false. I have seen them negotiate and I have negotiated with them in a direct basis.

If a supplier offers a great product, but it is priced 6 times higher than it should be... What would you do? $7,000 and higher for a domestic dealership brand "partnership package" is too much damned money for electronic publishing of a dealership's inventory... Period. Especially when they will take the same data for free... Excuse me, the free listings are limited to 2 photos.

From a macro economic perspective, every dealer that signs up with Cars.com and ECL and then take a basic or lower cost mid-level Autotrader.com package is helping to support a drop in Autotrader.com prices, and that cannot be all bad.

You wanna hear a real ball-buster? I have heard that Autotrader.com will take your dealership's data feeds for free and list your inventory, but if you cancel a partnership package they will block your data feed as punishment... What kind of business policy is that? Oh, I get it, Autotrader.com hatse dealers who give us money and then stop, but the ones who have never given them any money, Autotrader.com will list their invenmtory for free??!?!?!?!?

The fee and pricing abuse that dealers have been getting in the past 36 months from Autotrader.com will only begin to subside when more dealers say no to Autotrader.com's pricing policies. Just say no... Invest that $7,000 to $10,000 a month that Autotrader.com wants you to pay into actually promoting your dealership and your inventory online and you will sell more cars from the same money. If all you can afford is Autotrader.com, then it is ridiculous to put all your budget into the lowest ROI inventory listing site in the business... Sign up with Cars.com and ECL, maybe even a couple others that will publich your inventory, and then take the remaining $5,000 or more a month and put display ads linked to make and model inventory presorts into 1,000 plus automotive related websites so they appear whenever someone visits the site who
Thanks for the passion supported by the facts Ralph! As always, AGREED! Diversification and leveraged ROI across multiple medias to drive traffic is always the best marketing plan in either the virtual or the real world!

I will be meeting with the decision makers from ECL at the hospitality suite for SiSTeR Technologies at the 5th Digital Dealer Conference. Let's schedule a drink to listen and learn more so we can continue to teach! See you in Texas!
Autotrader is an effective digital "billboard". In our marketplace, we have increased our pre-owned penetration utilizing ATC. Far too often, dealership look at ATC as a lead provider. This is totally wrong. Although leads are generated from ATC, this is an additional benefit. ATC creates exposure, which in turn converts to opportunities.
I am not an avid, rabid, Autotrader fan.
That being said I beleive that it is a tool that if WORKED can yield tremendous results...its just an awful lot of work.
What amazes me is when I hear others complain about the cost but don't even know which package they have nor how to utilize it.
I personally don't believe, as much as it chagrins me to say, that there is any other venue that will give you any better exposure for any less.
What may help is if you can improve the tracking of your leads/calls from this media and, if it is not already, move this cost into the advertising expense rather than I-net dept. budget.
After all, ask Autotrader, they are NOT a lead provider.
Hi Brian,

We agree on most things - and I think that if your reply is properly framed within the point that Ralph made - that we will agree on this as well. In a shrinking economy and budget relative ROI and the actual use of a process is often the basis for keeping an investment or replacing it with one that tracks a better return on investment of both time and money.

The ECL conference that exposed the 6 to 1 ROI of Cars.Com vs. AutoTrader.Com was a subject that Ralph and I discussed on his Lunch With Ralph Show and it spoke volumes regarding the RELATIVE lack of ROI for Autotrader vs. alternative platforms that forced automotive advertising "investors" to re-evaluate their services.

The confusion that the market expresses about the true nature of ATC - lead provider or advertiser - and the value added that is supposedly offered in their VERY EXPENSIVE packages casts an equally large shadow on their value. I agree that they are an advertising investment - not a lead generator - but as an advertising agency that only increases the comparables that eat their lunch dollar for dollar.

Even in an unlimited budget certain "media" warrant more of a percentage allocation than others - but, in a reduced advertising budget only the strong survive and - other than their FREE services - ATC just doesn't make the cut!

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