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As most of us have already heard, has severed ties with lead aggregators and is venturing into the third party lead game.  Have you received your proposal from the new team and are you signing up with the program?  I found it interesting that the AutoUSA reps are now downplaying the impact Edmunds will have.  Not long ago, AutoUSA and Edmunds were tied at the hip and a large selling feature of AutoUSA was that Edmunds was their primary lead source.  While some brands are certainly affordable on the Edmunds program, other brands appear to be cost prohibitive.

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Great points Chris. It's clear that the truth is getting lost somewhere in the scamble to sell us more products.  I agree that proper lead scrubbing is required if dealerships are going to get any value out of third party leads.  There is definitely a correlation between the amount of quality leads a store gets and the amount of credits that they request.  I've worked in stores where no one was actively requesting credits and the amount of garbage leads was incredible.  It make sense that if you order steak and they give you hamburger and never send it back, they are going to keep giving you hamburger because you apparently don't know the difference.  In fact, we have a meeting scheduled for today to have a discussion about whether we need to add a position that does two things - request credit for leads and verify sourcing of all sold units.  This has certainly become a part time position that requires monitoring.


Is Edmunds offering a lead return credit (like Dealix does)  for leads that either the phone is not answering or the email address is bad? 

There really hasn't been a discussion of the lead return policy.  I'm sure John Giamalvo can jump in and explain the policy. 

Hi Mike and All,

Yes, we have launched a Direct to Dealer program which is rolling out in waves this year, and terminating the 3rd party lead aggregators as we go along. We've also totally changed OEM program execution. There has been a lot of misinformation out there about it so maybe I can clarify a little. I know I've spoken to Mike directly about it and think I mentioned we were working on Beta testing to Brian down at DD9. Edmunds has recognized dealer's concerns about the current delivery networks and the desire for dealers to have a direct pipeline into our consumers for a while now (I was one of the dealers who called Edmunds to go direct when I was BDC Director in 2005!). We spent a real good amount of time surveying dealers, pilot testing in Nashville, Portland, Austin, and San Antonio, and had deep test follow up. We have already launched wave 1 in California and Florida and the results have been VERY good.

We've rolled all of the 3 existing products, Dealer Locator Display (w/eMail Leads), Edmunds Premier Dealer, and New Car Inventory Listings into one subscription based program. Doing so we've been able to integrate ALL points of engagement, including new ones like our mobile sites and apps, phone numbers, dealer website links (yes Brian, relevant, not "no follow"!), etc, and are beginning testing of new tech points of engagement as the old eMail "leads" continue to lose ground to text, chat, and some social media elements. We've already begun adding elements of FB and Twitter to the site. The new execution also does a better job consumer facing Edmunds dealer reviews.

This program gives dealers a real efficient budget, directed to Edmunds only, without having to sift through and wonder where the contact came from and if they are a real buyer. Edmunds consumers ARE. Also, needless to say, being now subscription based, there is no need for "returns" since the dealer now chooses his viability distance and get all contacts, by any method, unlimited.

There is so much more to talk about but I don't want this to sound too pitchy while I do try to give you a quick overview. This is an exciting for us and we couldn't be more pleased with the early results, even in these challenging times.

I'd be more than happy to answer any questions in forum, or directly, for any in the ADM community.

All the best!

Johnny G

Director, Dealer Sales

Thank you John.  I sat through a presentation with my Edmunds rep Frank McGoldrick. Frank is one of the best in the business. You found some exceptional people to handle the New England region. Frank and Jeff McDermott are both phenomenal and are people I have worked with for many years at CarsDirect and IMN.


Can you share with us some of the findings that you found in beta testing? The misinformation is flowing and it would be great to know what dealers can reasonably expect. FYI, we're being told by other third parties that lead cost is coming in at about $70 a lead.  Whenever I hear a competitor tell me things like this, I can't help but respond by saying, "I don't care what the lead costs, I'm only concerned with my cost per sale." If a lead costs $150, it doesn't matter to me as long as I can sell a car for that $150. At the end of the day, if a lead provider can deliver sales for $150 or less, they are delivering an effective ROI. 


Yep Mike,

Thanks for the strong words on Fran and Jeff. I like them both on a personal and professional basis and happy to have both on my team. With the market insight and consumer behavior data from Edmunds that they can provide you as part of my team they will be a great asset to you in many areas of your digital marketing.

Couldn't agree with you more, the misinformation is at a fever pitch from the aggregators. Funny, don't know how they have calculated this as a "lead" program, which it's not, and haven't factored in any of the new contact points for consumers to reach out to dealer, phone calls, click thrus, mobile touches, etc, that WE haven't even calculated yet!

If they, or anyone for that matter, is going to evaluate this strictly as an old "pay per lead" program only, they don't get it. However, I do agree with you, if you wanted to indulge in that ROI calculation, the way to do it is on a CPS (cost per sale) basis. And, just looking at the old email leads delivered in the new execution a fair ave number we've seen is $200-$250 per car, depending on make, area demos, and dealer proficiencies. Some much better, some worse. Even just on that calc, I haven't seen anyone offering any better.

I will tell you that we brought dealers in to Santa Monica post pilot from all markets for roundtable discussions who were concerned about verbalizing their success since they thought we'd raise price. ALL of them voiced that concern because they loved it.

Funny also that Edmunds was always touted as the best "lead" an aggregator could deliver to a dealer. However, now Edmunds going direct to a dealer, with a better execution, more touch points, mobile, and more robust display in front of the Edmunds audience, is somehow not the way to go! We are continuing our relationship with them in other areas of the country and I'm friends with many of them. I guess, what else can they say. They can only look at a "lead" calc, as misinformed as it is, because that's what they do.

This is a little like taking the prime rib out of the hotdog and giving the dealer all the levers to target the Edmunds audience for the first time directly. Really efficient use of dollars and the dollars spent in your departments to work those leads.

If someone is looking to buy cheap "leads", there are plenty out there, but you won't sell many cars. That not the Edmunds' Direct program and it won't be for you if that's what your looking for.

Glad you, and I expect most of the ADM community, will look at it with a MUCH wider lens. I wrote an article last year that speaks to many of these points here:

Best Regards,

Johnny G

Did want to also add that we have custom priced each store individually, based on many important criteria. Didn't want to either lay a flat fee like the "pay per lead" model, or DMA based pricing that is sometimes unfair to dealers with geographical challenges.
Johnny G

@ John - we are not willing to provide financial data via a DMS feed and are being told that this is a non-negotiable portion of the agreement.  As with many in the ADM audience I have long espoused the idea of direct to dealer from Edmunds (in fact in my book you could give me the Edmunds leads and I would be perfectly happy!) - so it is very concerning to me that we are not going to be able to participate in this new and exciting chapter!!  Can you confirm?


@ Mike - do you really think tracking lead source on sold units is absolutely necessary anymore?  Since everyone (and their dogs) tracks things differently, there is no real benchmark to let us know if we are achieving true success.  For every one that you can actually "track" don't you think that at least one more has slipped past even your most diligent efforts?  When are we going to going to come up with measurement for advertising performance that can be applied to our entire interactive spend and is verifiable and scalable across the industry?


We've had some dealers express the same block. It is non negotiable. I hope dealers can have an understand of this on a couple of different levels. They need to understand that providing us this data speaks directly to some of the reasoning to going direct at all. I expect that we will lose about half the dealers on an Edmunds related program currently.

We are looking for “Participating Dealers” for our consumers, not people who just want to “get leads” and continue the same old failing practices. It would be disingenuous of us to provide TMV and related transaction data points to consumers and then display “participating dealers”, and the closest as “Premier Dealers” who are not really participating in the process. If someone's not willing to participate in the data that we present to our consumers, we really can’t have them displayed as a participating dealer to our consumers any longer, especially now with 1/2 the competition expected to go away. That would be disingenuous of us to our consumers and unfair to those dealers who do send their data.

BTW, It has been proven by our National Account partners and long term partners, who all report, and individual dealers where we've piloted the new program, that participating in transaction data is a better experience for the consumer and dealers sell more cars to them (and at higher grosses I might add) and makes the store more reflective of the market.

It's our desire to get the good dealers to separate themselves and engage with our customers such that they can buy a car with the least amount of angst. Our customers engaging with dealers who participate and "get it" BUY CARS!

All the best!

Johnny G

Hi Edward - thank you for participating in the discussion.  To answer your question, the only reason we track sales data is to have a baseline to compare to traditional marketing.  I might instinctively know that I sold 100 cars but as long as I can prove that I sold 40-50 using digital marketing, I know I am going to beat the snot out of traditional marketing models. When we make the transition and the majority of our budget is digital, this flawed tracking process will no longer be necessary and we'll demand a more robust method. For now, it serves it's purpose.


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