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Do you know of anybody dropping AutoTrader all together? Let's talk about it.....

I get an email today from a dealer friend of mine today and he ask;

Do you know of anybody dropping AutoTrader all together?
It’s ungodly expensive and we just haven’t seen the results.

My first response from the top of my head is, Yes there seems to be a lot of “chatter’ out there the last few years about reallocating dollars from AT and Cars to other digital advertizing. Then it hit me, I wonder “if” this was some motivation behind Autotraders recent spending spree. Diversify before losing more revenue?

Dollars started going down for Autotrader a few years back, they sell a piece for cash to buy and diversify? I'm certainly no expert, I’m just wondering.

Getting back to his original Question, in my local market Rockford Illinois closed that gap in the last 3 years. In the past Autotrader out produced by 25%. However, they were less expensive, so it was a push. In the last few years I had equal success. So was a better value. I always sold enough unique sales from each source to pay for itself. I always knew there may be better ROI out there.

Truth be told they are easy leads……..

How bout you?
Cutting back on 3rd party?
Dropping Cars and Autotrader all together?
Seeing same numbers as year’s gone “buy”?

Views: 255

Tags: advertizing, auto, autotrader,, digital, guy, internet, jennings, media, social, More…tim, trader


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Comment by Tim Jennings on November 10, 2010 at 5:43pm
@Manuel Rock On!........
Comment by Tim Jennings on November 10, 2010 at 5:24pm
@Daniel great point
@Manuel you work for Craigslist?? lol
@Scott What other idea's any Social Media?
@Bryan i once had that conversation too with my Cars rep. look at our reports.... your listings are features with commas. ( I would run invoices on the cars and put all additional options list up front) I was telling him they sold 2 for me that month. We were a small store and when you sell 30-40 and have a drill down interview with EACH customer to ASK them what sites were you on? What site brought you here? That’s how we credited all sources. What are looking at to try with some of the cash?
Comment by Daniel Boismier on November 10, 2010 at 7:32am

We dropped it at our Toyota store starting Oct 1st and had a great month. We have sent in cancellations for 4 more stores. While some of our stores see a consistent ROI the majority do not. We have suplemented with Craiglist and a variety of other approaches.

The difficulty for our stores has consistently been the increased cost of being on page 1 of Autotrader and the fact that they do not reward dealers who price aggressively in how they return results. This is counter productive to our marketing philosophy. Maybe the vAuto acquisition will change this???
Comment by Scott Yelle on November 9, 2010 at 3:05pm
I dropped AT all together and have not see a drop in lead volume. I have shifted the dollars to other idea's, and when all of the things I am doing with the $$ I have freed up hit, I think I will see a significant net gain to the Department. Their programs are a joke!
Comment by Tim Jennings on November 8, 2010 at 1:18pm
@Mark "my numbers" The store I was with has been with AT since 1999. My numbers have dropped. There was a big backlash 2 years ago at auto trader about continuing rising prices and products that were not requested. Maybe that was in my circle of friends only. At the end of the day every store needs to know other on metrics. BUT its hard to divorce a vendor that u have had for a long time.

Comment by Mark Scott on November 8, 2010 at 12:13pm
Mark from here. I wanted to correct a few points from the initial post. Specifically that's numbers are down. In fact, the number of dealers utilizing's services is at an all time high and our dealer churn (the number of dealers leaving is at record lows. Additionally, our site traffic has been hitting records every month this year -- hitting north of 16 million unique monthly visitors in several months and routinely surpassing 15 million unique monthly visitors. Dealers and car shoppers continue to see value in what has to offer and if you're wondering about the value can bring to your business -- or want to discuss your current account -- please reach out to an rep. Thanks!
Comment by Bryan Armstrong on November 7, 2010 at 11:14am
I just canceled AT totally at the end of October. I'm in my 30 day notice phase now. Sadly, my rep Amy was very attentive and pro-active and tried to help all she could, but I can no longer afford to waste even the "minimum package" fee of $1700 a month.
I have always put AT in the advertising category and believd that the exposure was good even if the tracking wasn't and their double-speak, triple-count reports were worth less than zero. As you know I use VinSolutions and I brought Amy into my office and SHOWED her why I was canceling...nobody is coming to my site from theirs. Not only that, exposure is down as far as searches on their own site and R.O.I wise, 2 e-mails and 1 deal doesn't pay out. She thanked me for my time and for SHOWING her with real time analytics, that I don't need to be there. Much different from the last time I had canceled them at another Store and they came in saying "Look at all our reports, we're great, your people aren't". This time I had the stats. If they bring their price point down to a reasonable level, I'd reconsider, but for now they will no longer get to use my inventory to drag traffic away from my site.
Comment by Jay Campbell on November 7, 2010 at 9:40am
Hi Tim! I agree with most of what Matt mentions.

My first question for the dealer in question: How do you know? What are they relying on for their analytics? I can tell you for a FACT, the largest Endemic Sites (ATC,, Kbb, Edmunds to name a few) do much more for dealers than they could ever imagine. If you don't believe me, pull out of all of them for 2 months and see what starts happening to your business at Day 40 and past.

In today's marketplace, it's truly about VISIBILITY. If you have none on the sites people traditionally shop, your other marketing efforts like SEO, and traditional won't generate the cross platform awareness necessary to keep people engaged and viewing your web site(s) on a regular basis. And make no mistake, the primary goal of any dealer today should be driving people to their site, measuring the site traffic effectively and understanding the site's transactional value relative to unique visitation and dollars spent to capture the traffic. A close second is paying attention to their store's social media ecosystem and guarding and improving their reputation through improved staff communication and and customer service training and interaction with their sales and service customers.

There is much more to this equation, but killing ATC is a poor strategy. I will be offering a blog post soon on "what is important" for Dealers going into 2011.

Happy Selling!

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