tem and various third parties. The problem was, this one individual was also the inventory manager, spread thin between assisting our internet sales team and his other day to day responsibilities.
I joined Gene Reed Toyota with no specific title or job description - only a goal - develop our internet business to stay ahead of our competitors. The first thing that fell under my responsibilities was ensuring every vehicle on our lot had pictures...
Initially I had to find a suitable spot to take the pictures. Ideally, this should be done indoors to ensure consistant lighting. I've even heard of some dealers creating inexpensive backdrops that have their dealer logo and website address. At the time, I had absolutely zero budget or decision making powers to do anything of the sort. I found a nice little corner spot of our dealership, and slowly but surely made the sales staff aware that this location was mine - no temp parking here or giving customers a walkthrough of features - this spot was for the sole purpose of taking pictures of our inventory.
Every morning, I pull up our inventory manager and print a report of every vehicle that has been stickered and has no photos. From what I hear, not every inventory management provider can generate a report such as this. Strictly for a reference, we use VinSolutions. The reason I select inventory that is stickered and has no photos is because I know these vehicles have gone through clean-up and are available on our lot. Honestly, trying to get photos in the moment cars arrived was a trying experience and communication would often break down somewhere in the process.
One thing that we do through VinSolutions is withold all inventory without photos from being sent to third parties, for example AutoTrader or Cars.com. These unphotographed vehicles will appear on our website inventory listings, but not shoot out all over the web. If the car doesn't have photos, odds are it won't generate much traffic from these third parties anyways. This was the most efficient solution - maybe not the ideal, best practice - but it works for us. Often vehicles are purchased at wholesale and will be entered into our system before they arrive at the dealership. What happens is I find myself with 15-30 cars that I cannot take pictures of but are on our website! We have a standard "out for a bath" photo for these.
Taking photos includes a full walk around, tire closeup, trunk area, several angled internal shots to reveal cabin space, and then close up on mileage and stand out features. On average I take about 25 pictures per vehicle but have taken up to 60 for some truly incredible cars!
Once photos are taken, I use Microsoft Photo Editor to batch edit all the photos with the auto-correct feature as well as resize photos to 640x480px. This generally brightens up most photos and also decreases the time needed to upload everything. For whatever reason, my digital camera takes such great pictures it won't let me choose a smaller size photo. A good tip - if you invest in a camera, standard photo size is 640x480 for most third parties. They usually will automatically resize them upon upload, but this can distort your photos at times.
Once photos are uploaded they are updated on our website in real time and shoot to third parties at several set times a day or nightly. At this point we put in our comments for the vehicle. This is usually the deal breaker for us. Its really easy to just create a standard template and put auto fill every comment field. What we decided is to custom comment stand out vehicles and vehicles over 90 days old. Really, this is just to save time.
And that was just for USED CARS! I haven't even developed a system to tackle new cars yet. I spend about 3-4 hours every morning taking all my pictures, updating comments, following up with used car manager if a vehicle isn't priced... in all honesty, this task is most definately my least favorite of all my responsibilities and I would even venture to say it is the bane of my existence.
The issue I'm sure most everyone else has is one of motivation. No one wants to do this. Its tedious. If I had my way, one of the lot jockeys would be taking all the photos after cleanup when they park the cars on the front line. However, that's one more person to train and one more task that THEY have to do.
Should you be taking pictures, if not video of all your cars? ABSOLUTELY! As Chris has said taking action is the toughest part, and like our dealership, you may need to find someone to dedicate to internet business development.…
month of February, representing a decline of 12% versus January due mainly to three fewer days in the month. Google sites comprised the largest share, accounting for 41% of online videos viewed and just under 100 million unique viewers.
Google Sites continue to rank as the top U.S. video property, with YouTube.com accounting for more than 99 percent of all videos viewed at the property. Fox Interactive Media ranked second, followed by Yahoo! Sites, Hulu and Microsoft Sites. Hulu climbed two positions in the ranking to #4, after experiencing a 33-percent jump in video views on the heels of its Super Bowl commercial at the outset of the month.
Top U.S. Online Video Properties by Videos Viewed February 2009 Total U.S. Home/Work/University Locations
Property Videos Viewed (000) Share (%) of Videos Viewed
Total Internet 13,072,164 100.0%
Google Sites 5,348,579 40.9
Fox Interactive Media 462,620 3.5
Yahoo! Sites 353,489 2.7
Hulu 332,504 2.5
Microsoft Sites 259,002 2.0
Viacom Digital 248,103 1.9
Turner Network 169,486 1.3
AOL LLC 117,119 0.9
Disney Online 116,104 0.9
CBS Interactive 111,762 0.9
Source: comScore Video Metrix, March 2009 (Rankings based on video content sites; excludes video server networks. Online video includes both streaming and progressive download video.)
More than 145 million U.S. Internet users watched an average of 90 videos per viewer in February. Google Sites maintained its lead with nearly 100 million viewers during the month, representing 69 percent of those who watched video. Fox Interactive ranked second, followed by Yahoo! Sites and Hulu. Of the top ten video properties, Hulu experienced the largest increase in unique viewers compared to January..
Top U.S. Online Video Properties by Unique Viewers (February 2009 Total U.S. - Home/Work/University Locations)
Property Unique Viewers (000) Average Videos per Viewer
Total Internet 145,177 90.0
Google Sites 99,395 53.8
Fox Interactive Media 53,794 8.6
Yahoo! Sites 41,679 8.5
Hulu 34,731 9.6
Microsoft Sites 28,490 9.1
CBS Interactive 24,574 4.5
AOL LLC 22,778 5.1
Viacom Digital 22,051 11.3
Turner Network 20,119 8.4
Disney Online 12,699 9.1
Source: comScore Video Metrix, March 2009 (Rankings based on video content sites; excludes video server networks. Online video includes both streaming and progressive download video)
Other notable findings from February 2009 include:
• 75.5% of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video
• The average online video viewer watched 312 minutes of video (more than 5 hours)
• 98.8 million viewers watched 5.3 billion videos on YouTube.com (53.8 videos per viewer)
• 41.2 million viewers watched 384 million videos on MySpace.com (8.5 videos per viewer)
• The duration of the average online video was 3.5 minutes.
For more information, please visit comScore here.
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prefer to think of myself as one of the "Argonauts" from a real world version of the old movie cult classic "Jason and the Argonauts". Why? I have seen a lot of stuff in the world where information technology, the car business and the Internet converge. And some of it has been as funky, freakin' outrageous as those weird monsters and situations encountered by Jason and his crew in the movie!
I am sitting here chuckling and thinking about those wild days from 1985 to 1991 before there was a World Wide Web, but when we were DOS wizards and my most important piece of "IT" was the list of 82 Corporate BBS's with phone numbers, logins and passwords (kept in a plastic sleeve)... Then there was the "Other" BBS lists, that led to early forms of "meetups" at the "Waterfront Bar and Grill" on Kettner, and at "Fat City" down on Pacific Coast Highway.... Taking that F&I Princess from "Down the Road Motors" from the online world to Fat City, to a lifeguard tower on Pacific Beach... MMmmmmm... I digress.
OK, so how long did any of you use Mosaic after the Web came into existence in 1991? Man, did that browser suck!
And to Paul; How come you were on the Compuserve hourly rate? That was a rip and most people got hammered. Being a "Compuserve Charter Member" I did the unlimited package with annual payments in advance... Heck, I was hitting home runs with gray market European cars that "Scorpio" my Rotterdam connection was shipping to me... Ever hear of any actual cars getting crushed by DOT? I actually had one that did after the Feds chased it for 3 years... Anyways the gross on those Euro-Trash gray market benzes and beemers were the stuff legends are made of.
HHmmmm... Too scattered this Easter evening, getting back to the questions I posed, HERE ARE THE ANSWERS:
Q1: "What were the years of the "Prehistoric Internet" and what event marked the transition from Prehistoric to the "Information Superhighway" years that lasted 4 years and transitioned into the "Website" period?"
A1: 1985 to 1991, and the event that marked the "Information Superhighway" period was the launching of the World Wide Web in 1991.
Q2: "What was the year and Internet Marketing strategy used to generate the first "Internet Sales Leads" for a car dealer?"
A2: 1986, and the strategy was to get BBS dial-in info and setups from San Diego area defense contractor employees who bought cars from us by using the retired military that worked in our dealership as salespeople... Then dial in via modem and work through your new and used car inventory stock books to post text based "liners", classified ad listings on the military contractor corporate Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). We received "Leads" as emails in response to the BBS listings and every once in awhile, we got a phone call.
Q3: "What is the name of the first publicly traded "Dot Com" that supplied digital marketing services (sort of) to car dealers, and what year did they issue their IPO?"
A3: Autobytel (3rd Party Internet Leads), IPO was in 1995.
Q4: "List the names of the search engines that made up the aggregated SERP for Mamma.com in 1999?"
A4: Altavista, Yahoo!, Excite, Dogpile, Lycos, GoTo.com, Infoseek, LookSmart, Thunderstone, WebCrawler and Mamma's own... "Mamma is an unusual meta search engine in that it only searches a few major indexes -- the rest of the sites queried are directories or paid-placement services." -- SearchEngineWatch 2004
"Mamma.com, "The Mother of All Search Engines," is recognized as one of the top Meta Search Engines on the Internet today. Mamma.com has been experiencing explosive growth since its inception in 1996 and presently services approximately 4.9 million unique users on a monthly basis. Mamma.com is the largest independently owned Meta Search Engine on the Internet. The continued popularity and fast growth of the Mamma.com Meta Search Engine is testament to the superior value it provides the end user. Mamma.com is a "Smart Meta Search Engine." When the user enters a query at the Mamma.com website, Mamma's powerful proprietary technology simultaneously queries 10 of the major Search Engines and properly formats the words and syntax for each source being probed. Mamma then creates a virtual database, organizes the results into a uniform format and presents them by relevance and source. In this manner, Mamma.com provides the end user with a highly relevant and comprehensive set of search results." -- LexisONE 2001
Q5: "What is the specific service category of the "Digital Marketing Service" that comprises the single largest source of complaints from defrauded businesses, according to the national association of Attorneys General for the past 5 years in a row?"
A5: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Service Providers…
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