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True Car and ZAG - Cyber Bandits or Good for the Business?

Jim Ziegler asks...

I am hearing a lot of discussion about True Car and ZAG.  I continually scratch my head and wonder if  desperate dealers are doing the marketing limbo "How Low Can You Go?" 

Are we so bad at what we do that we have to line up and pay vendors to lose money? AND, who is giving these people access to your data that is used against you? 


Who owns these companies and what might be their ulterior motive?  Sometimes I ask questions to which I already know the answer. 


Am I wrong?

What do you think... JIM







EDITOR'S NOTE: The ADM Professional Community has assigned a short-cut domain name to this blog post by Jim Ziegler to make it very easy for ADM members and readers to refer others to this web page. Please use the following URL:


Jim Ziegler's Guidance and Recommended Action Plan:

Ten Areas We Need to Concentrate on to Bring This Monster to It's Knees...

  1. Government investigation of ALL Data Aggregators taking consumer information from dealers' DMS. Sadly enough, dealers who do business with TrueCar are exposed to  liability charges. Cut off all access to unecessary data, no matter who takes it from the dealers DMS and make it illegal to "resell identifiable consumer data" and "transactional data".
  2. Educate Your Fellow Dealers; If anyone takes financial transactional data, they expose the dealer that allowed it to violations, especially if it is passed on to other vendors or shared.
  3. Educate Consumers to what they're doing with their information...
    a. You buy a car from a dealer, do you really want your personal information, and maybe even your financial information, passed along and sold and shared by "God knows who?"
    b. These People Charge the Dealer $300 which the dealers have to build into the deal
    c. Your Privacy and the Security of your Information could theoretically compromise your identity if you do business a company that takes data from the dealership.
  4. Educate Investors and potential investors they could possibly be mislead if anyone is telling them this is a safe investment because of all of the dealers pushing back, associations pushing back, and government regulators in many states coming after TrueCar's business model as NOT compliant, in some cases they're saying it is Not Legal.
  5. AMEX, USAA and all of their affiliates do not want the bad consumer relations this push back is creating with their members and customers.
  6. Cancel your dealership's Affilation with TrueCar. Tell people with TrueCar certificates that YOU don't honor TrueCar and you feel the company is NOT reputable. Educate consumers as to perceived data exposure if they buy from a TrueCar dealer. Make sure that each consumer knows that using TrueCar actually increases their vehicle cost by $300 to $400.
  7. Make the dealers selling at huge losses take all of those deals. Big problem right now is too many Nissan Dealers and others are taking huge losers to get the factory money. The TrueCar reverse-auction business model will continually push those numbers down until the factory money is non-existent. Consumers need to hear from many dealers, "We don't do TrueCar"
  8. Keep calling your National and State Dealer Associations demanding they get involved and stay involved... No excuses.
  9. Get the Manufacturers into the game. If GM, Ford, Toyota, and other majors change the rules about how we advertise and do business to protect the dealers, we can cut off their ability to set pricing. So keep it up at every dealer meeting. Call your Dealer Council Members and protest to your factory reps. Tell the manufacturers, if they want showroom and facility improvements, we need the ability to make fair profits.
  10. Tell everyone you know. Educate other dealers and industry people. Watch the Painter interviews... I believe this is the first time a vendor has publicly announced they intend to bring down the dealers and hijack our business, taking our profits and starving us out with our own data. Painter has said manufacturers and dealers should go bankrupt and he, in his God-like way "will control distribution..."
    When the TrueCar-Yahoo Deal kicks in we need to stand firm and "Just Say No" we don't honor TrueCar deals.

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Comment by Joseph B Antley; JB ANTLEY on December 4, 2011 at 2:06pm

This is from the TrueCar website, it is stunning, and I work for a DMS company, I've been saying for years that the value of a dealership is its' data.

About Our Data

TrueCar obtains data directly from car dealers, respected dealer management system (DMS) providers, and well-known data aggregators within the automotive space. We also acquire vehicle configuration data, customer and dealer incentives data, financing and loan data, vehicle registration and insurance data, and much, much more. TrueCar is insatiable about data with our goal to find 100% of all purchase transactions, even if that means finding the same transaction multiple times from multiple sources within the car-buying ecosystem. Our data is among the most timely and comprehensive in the industry, as we are able to process most car sales within a week of the actual sales date, and have a substantial fraction of them on the site within 48 hours of the actual sale. TrueCar believes the greater our informational accuracy, the greater benefit we provide to both dealers and consumers.

Comment by Jim Kristoff on December 4, 2011 at 12:35pm

GREAT video Rob!!.....

Comment by Rob Fontano on December 4, 2011 at 12:18pm

Auto Dealers are Under Attack! Urgent Message from the Front!

Comment by Joseph B Antley; JB ANTLEY on December 4, 2011 at 10:01am

Somewhere there are a bunch of dealers scratching their heads and wondering "where do they get those crazy numbers, I can't touch that deal". When in fact, they are the ones willingly giving up their data.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on December 4, 2011 at 9:57am

Jerry, one of the things to add to that site, or perhaps aim at, is to properly cast those complaints.  To folks in the business, it's clear to us that TrueCar made a promise on behalf of a dealer that has disappointed the shopper--and that the dealer takes the heat for that.  However, the complaints for the most part are then TOWARDS the dealer rather than TrueCar.  It's kind of like they are running to TrueCar like a mommy to complain about a bully.  For sucess with consumers, you're going to have to climb the hill that the source of the disappointment should be with TrueCar, and that the dealer wasn't the bully but was instead just trying to remain in business while being asked to sell a vehicle most likely below cost.  Please consider this point.  Thanks!

Comment by Jerry Thibeau on December 4, 2011 at 9:50am

Another stone cast at TrueCar.  This site will improve, just a quicky to get the ball rolling.

Comment by James A. Ziegler on December 4, 2011 at 4:46am

It is The battle of Armageddon

Comment by Jason Manning on December 3, 2011 at 10:59pm



We have a real life virus running through our dealer networks.  A computer virus can steal data and crash a computer.  A dealer virus can steal data and crash a dealer.  There is no difference.  We have to get data smart.  There is no greater need in the future existence of the dealership.



Comment by Keith Shetterly on December 3, 2011 at 10:53pm
Comment by Jason Manning on December 3, 2011 at 10:21pm

Transparency.  If TrueCar is about transparency they will open up their company and show everyone where there data is derived from...specifically.  They will show where their profits come from...specifically.  They will show dealers, the consumer and their competitors where all data is moving...specifically.  They will devulge the exact path that data takes from their sources to the end user...specifically.  If they cannot provide this type of transparency, dealers have been duped.  Do you think they will share their secrets with their competitors?  Nah.


On the flip side, the sharing of automotive data and the influence of these companies will make it much easier to move "automotive" stocks in the future.  You know, those stocks on the NYSE.    At the very least, this will become an SEC problem (investigation) with automotive companies/manufacturer investments that deal in inventory movement/profits.  I think company secrets were created for market protection and sometimes to prevent crimes (All this reminds me of how Organized Crime moves stocks on Wall Street.  Seems like a setup.).  Ultimately, executives want a way to push their stocks upward.  Sometimes they sneak a few through.  We have to be smarter that those who are out to profit on our data.  Stop the Dealer Leaks.  Secure your data.  You know what a car's worth.  What's a car price worth to a company pushing prices on your inventory to the consumer?   

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