THE AUTOTRADER.COM DISCUSSION THREAD BELOW WAS PULLED OVER INTO THIS ADM FORUM POST BECAUSE IT HAD TAKEN ON A LIFE OF ITS OWN IN A COMPLETELY UNRELATED ADM DISCUSSION POST: Please read the thread below and then add your commentary within this post... I want to recognize and thank Jon Groenig for this timely and important topic - RP
Reply by Jon Groenig 11 hours ago
Speaking of drama Jeff, isn't is about time for you to start another Autotrader bitch fest on Dealer Refresh?? It's been quite a while since the last one. :)
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Reply by Ralph Paglia 11 hours ago
Jon, you are right... I spent all day today with 8 GM's, The DP, Controller, Internet marketing Director and others at a dealer group's headquarters in Pittsburgh, and their number one topic that kept coming up was "what should we do about Autotrader... We feel like we are getting fleeced, but we also think we have to have them... What's your opinion?"
Anyways, there is a ton of anxiety over the Autotrader ROI model being inferior to other uses of monthly budget.
Reply by Stan Sher 10 hours ago
Autotrader is a household name and needs to be in place. People know Autotrader more then dealix, autousa, or autobytel. They don't realize where they go to submit a third party lead but they always know to go to Autotrader to shop for cars. If they were just another third party lead provider, we can say that it is more debatable. Autotrader needs to get on the dealer side more and stop the cocky behavior and things will be alright.
Reply by Ralph Paglia 1 hour ago
Stan, I have been an Autotrader.com fan ever since Cox Communications bought the platform from ADP... However, when I experienced being an Autotrader.com customer for two years while working at Courtesy Chevrolet, I always felt like we were being taken advantage of every time ATC came by to announce our rates were being increased. Also, I admire ATC for having successfully separated themselves from the nonsense of being a $20 lead provider. They have worked long and hard to position ATC as an advertising medium and NOT a lead provider, which is commendable and something I highly admire.
When Pete Ellis asked me if i thought dealers would be willing to pay for 3rd party leads, prior to founding Autobytel, I responded that I did not, because dealers prefer advertising their inventory and driving traffic to their dealerships... I was wrong, and Pete was right. Live and learn... But, the self-generating lead model that i have focused on ever since has finally come into its own, and Autotrader.com is a distinct part of most successful digital marketing dealership strategies.
Reply by Chris Hanson 20 minutes ago
Don't you think that because most dealerships don't track very well (many are just terrible at it), that they are not seeing the true ROI from AT??......
eMails are easy to track but account for the least amount of leads from AT
Phone Calls go to the front desk, sales are paged and where does it end up from there?? Are they entered in the CRM/ILM as AT leads?
Phone Calls go to ISM or BDC but no one matches up the AT call list to the one in the CRM/ILM to make sure that ALL AT calls are being accounted for.
People walk in with printed copies of cars they found on AT....they didn't call and they didn't email. Are ALL of those people being put in the CRM/ILM as a AT lead?
Over the last four to five months I had three of my clients UPGRADE their package with AT and the results have been huge! More cars sold. Yes, we have changed other things in the store, process, phone skills, picture process, etc. But the ROI from AT is one of the best. And they are selling more used cars than they used to.
Reply by Ralph Paglia 2 seconds ago
Chris... YES, I absolutely agree with you that DIGITAL ADVERTISING in general produces a broad range of benefits to the dealership that dwarf the value of electronic leads received. This applies to Autotrader.com as well as other forms of online advertising. I do not question the value of Autotrader.com, which is firmly established beyond a reasonable doubt, but it is subject to a lot of "if the dealer...", as are almost all marketing value propositions. In other words, to say that ATC generates leads, or that ATC sells cars for dealers, are both naive and ill-informed statements. Since ATC is a type of online classified advertising, a "publication" among thousands available to all dealers, the content of the dealer's ads (Vehicle Listings) will either capitalize on ATC's inherent value as a publication with available advertising space, or it won't.
Those Autotrader.com value propositions as a publication are NOT being questioned, for the most part... It is the dollars, the costs, and the very real fact that ATC has done such a good job of maximizing value for the OWNERS of ATC, which is your's and every ATC employee's job, that work in the opposite direction as what that same value proposition offers for dealers. Heck, I still like newspaper advertising... IF I COULD BUY A FULL PAGE AD IN THE AZ REPUBLIC FOR $1,000...
There would be no hesitation at all with Autotrader.com, nor dealer anxiety generated if the pricing were, let's say, the same as Cars.com... Why? Because ATC has more car buying consumers visiting the site than does Cars.com, so if the price were the same, then the value advantage would absolutely fall in favor of ATC... But, the pricing is not the same, and the premium that ATC gets, in this case, is disproportionate to the consumer traffic advantage that Autotrader.com has over Cars.com... Which by definition makes Cars.com a BETTER VALUE to dealers on a dollar to dollar ROI basis.
Keep in mind that the likelihood of a dealer performing their marketing duties better with ATC than with Cars.com is almost zero, because both publishers offer similar venues. Once again, let me say that I admire Autotrader.com and am an avid proponent of the publication's use as an advertising medium by dealers.... BUT, when I see a dealer paying $20,000 a month extra for the Alpha Program in a major metro, I have to wonder if that is the best next use of those marketing dollars by that dealer... In most cases I can prove that it is not... That there are a variety of BETTER USES of that additional $20,000 in monthly digital advertising spend available to that same dealer. Now, if that same Alpha program were an additional $5,000, then the value proposition benefit to that same dealer may tip the scales in Autrader.com's direction... Unless, of course, the other online advertising networks, venues, publishers, etc. lower their prices to the dealer and/or offer more value... And, to that point, viva la competition! To say or believe that Autotrader.com has no competition is worse than believing in the tooth fairy, because of the financial implications to the dealer.
The fact is that there are more publications competing with ATC every day for the dealer's dollars of monthly digital advertising spend... And, this is a good thing. We need this type of competition to offset Autotrader.com's well established track record of j****** up prices on short notice when they feel the market will support it. And, if I was a shareholder in ATC, then i would be all for that practice, but I am not... As a dealer, or a dealership employee, or a dealer advocate, it is undesirable to support ATC's objective of increasing each dealer's monthly payments to Autotrader.com.
But, do not mistake that for devaluing what Autotrader.com has been so successful in accomplishing... The single most popular brand for Americans to turn to when it comes to finding a used car listed on the Internet.