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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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I think we can all agree that ATC helps sell cars. The real issue, for me anyway, is my ROI and lost opportunity. I know I'm getting sales from ATC but would I be getting those same sales if I were to cancel? My internel research has shown that 4 out of every 5 ATC customers also saw my vehicle on Cars.com, so I'm really paying thousands of dollars for an incremental sale. What I can't know, until I cancel, is what I can generate with an additional $4500 a month infused into my Digital Advertising budget. There's only one way to find out!
Phil,
I couldn't agre more.My point is simply that ATC should be viewed as an ad source and nothing more.
If you are going to put your eggs in that basket though...UTILIZE ALL THEY DO HAVE TO OFFER!
Advertising per se is simply a medium through which to create an image, elicit a desired response and maintain "top of mind" awareness. ATC does very little in at least 2 out of 3 of these criterion in my opinion.
However, should one decide to cancel or downgrade your package...be prepared. I have done so @ two different locations in two different markets and WHAMMO! the reps came in guns blazing with all kinds of data showing that they worked it was my people who did not (guess they thought it was someone else that had ordered their demise). I have always pointed their # to my own CallSource # and I monitor those calls DAILY. In addition "clicks" do not equal "leads" they are market indicators.
So in this average car guys opinion,to return to the topic, get your free inventory posting, balance your ad portfolio and spend your declining dollars on something that is truly a lead generator and not a passive inventory posting.
I agree EXACTLY with what you say here Bryan.
Bryan,

One thing I have never been able to get a straight answer on from an Autotrader.com representative is my, or any dealer's, net CPM or Cost Per Thousand Impressions. Once you calculate the effective CPM with ATC, then you can compare eyeballs to eyeballs with other advertising mediums.

My suspicion, based on ATC's reluctance to produce the metrics that would allow comparison, is that the CPM is somewhere North of ridiculous...

Also, if you ever want to see one of the best ROI analysis I have ever seen that compares ATC with others, then take a look at Shaun Kniffin's presentation from the ENG Automotive CRM Summit last August 15th...
Autotrader ihas become too big for their britches. I have used them since right after they started. Their decision to change more to an advertising medium than a dealer service medium has led them away from what they originally were very good at.
Dealer Service.
An example is this: Years ago I could pick up the phone and call my Service Rep,(they do not have them anymore).
I could ask the rep what was happening from Dealer Specialties all the way to the Autotrader post. In a few minutes Dealer Specialties would call and say they were asked to assist with a problem, the dealer concierge would call from Autotrader and make sure everything was ok, then the service rep would be there the next day having a look or calling from where they happened to be.
I noticed later when I called Dealer Specialties, it was Autotrader's problem not theirs. When I called Autotrader it was Dealer Specialtie's problem not Autotrader's. It became terrible dealer service. Not the people mind you, the process and policy just fell apart and they still do not have it back. Not to mention overselling dealers who did not understand the web yet.
Sorry for the rant but I have seen it personally.
Ahhhhhhhhhhh the good ol days. sadly enough they were not that long ago and shame on those of us who hang on wishing for what was.
I guess we adapt and utilize what is or move on eh?
In fact we were looking very strongly at this the last few months here as well. We currently are going back to our Basic Listing with them. I just started at Tim Dahle Nissan and have been diving into the providers and the results. Honestly, having the ability to create Spotlight Ads, Specials, and so on and so forth with the High End Package, has not translated into enough of a jump in leads to justify the cost. The Upper package is in the $6,000 range, which is outrageous to me. Listing them with the basic package and sinking your money into much more effective tools at this time would be my suggestion. Right now we have seen a tremendous jump in the effectiveness of youtube.com, craigslist, and how the rankings for these sites ( and several others ) are starting to dominate the search results. These are often very inexpensive to free. Take a look at the Appointment to Show Ratio for them at your Dealership. Then look at the Show to Sold Ratio after that. I have done both the basic and the Upper Level with them and I just can't constitute the amount of money the high end package costs for us. It may be different for you, but probably not. Either way for us generates almost identical results for us, so it is a no brainer. Basic package is plenty good enough.
Hi David,

Congratulations on your new responsibilities at your new home! I agree with your redistribution and diversification plan with the funds pulled from the ATC package, I also agree with the specific reference to videos and You Tube and I suggest that you review my recent interview with Tomer Alpert from SiSTeR Technologies and their Push Tube feature of their Video CarLot. For $495 a month, no set up - no long term contract - nothing needed except your RSS feed info - they can convert your entire inventory into branded videos pushed automatically through You Tube to the search engines. They can virtually guarantee you a number one position in SEO in one day! Call me, or go to www.adagencyonline.net or www.blogtalkradio.com/adagencyonline to explain or listen to Tomer Alpert from SiSTer.
Thanks Phil, as always I'm right with you... SiSter Tech.. Looking into it right now.
My ATC rep is quick to point out that if I were to downgrade, as a Ford Partner, my vehicles would dropped to the fifth or sixth page of results as most Ford dealers in my area are on the Partner plan. Most of my customers are searching Cars.com as well as ATC, so why bother paying anything to be at the bottom of the results? I'd rather pay a little more to increase my exposure on Cars.com and spend the other $3500 on other forms of Digital Advertising.
Hi Mike,

I agree with the benefit of diversifying your funds from the deficient ROI already evidenced in the ATC packages. They are not the most cost effective way to impact your SEO for your store or even per vehicle - see my note to David on SiSTeR Technologies Video CarLot!!

I assume that you will keep the "free listings" on ATC despite the anticipated pressure tactics already discussed by the other ADM members that have gone that route. Stick to your guns - but, remember that there are also other FREE services directly competing with ATC that you may need to confirm that you are using as well.

EveryCarListed.Com already has a comparable dealer base and inventory supporting them and I have STRONG RUMORS that a new strategic partnership is about to be announced to tip the scales even further into their arena!!! They also have a new internal SEO re-launch scheduled for this week which will absolutely keep their ball rolling for their FREE listings.

As for their anticipated paid packages, their integration of the SiSTeR VCL, their Gumiyo based EveryCarListed.mobi platform and some new strategic partnerships also in the "rumor mill" suggest that you get aboard fast! ATC is yesterday and even today with the right use of their platform - EveryCarListed.Com is today and tomorrow!
Hi Phil,

I'm signing a partner agreement with ECL.com tomorrow and hope to have an agreement with Sister by the end of the week!

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