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One Last Try - Dealers Must Get Their Heads Out of The Sand

Dealers spend thousands of dollars a year on designing a good website. Then they spend thousands of dollars a year to add video, chat, vAuto, SEO and SEM to their websites. They invest in branding on radio, TV and newspaper as well.

Then dealers unknowingly make decisions to make sure consumers DO NOT GET to their website for popular search phrases on the search engines.


One day, dealers were told it was a "good" idea to send their inventory to 3, 5, 8 or 10 "free" inventory listing websites that promised to create significant leads and relevance to their business.

Inventory feed providers, website providers all bought the sales pitch. Funny, not many dealers have gone back to look just how many leads are coming in from these "free" sites? Even less have decided to take any action once they saw that these free sites were NOT producing meaningful results.

Dealers concluded, what can it hurt me to send my's free. Guess what. It's NOT free. It has a real Cost.

So, I wrote a blog post on ADM this week that I though would elicit more responses, but it didn't. I think I just gave too much information, so I'll say it one more time, using graphics. Dealers are allowing their inventory to be used against them.

They are allowing free websites to push their own websites off of Google Page One.

I did a simple search on Yahoo, which was: " indianapolis Silverado for sale" and I documented Page 1 and Page 2 of the search results. You should test a few local phrases and see who comes up on Page One.

Take a look at the screen shots below and take note that:

  1. There are NO car dealers in organic search results on Page One or Two.
  2. Go back and read point #1.
  3. Free listing websites that sell your leads or show competitor listings are on Page 1 and 2 and NO car dealer websites are one Page 1 or 2.
  4. KBB is using your inventory feed to create car detail pages with lead generation links to:
    3. Presenting competing dealer banner ads
    4. Presenting banner ads that go to OEM websites
  5. Oodle is using your inventory feed to create car detail pages with lead generation links to:
    1. Your competitors using Google Adsense
    2. Presenting banner ads that go to OEM websites
  6. LemonFree is using your inventory feed to create car detail pages with lead generation links to:
    1. Your competitors comparable listings in their network
    2. Competitors using Google Adsense

Do I have to keep going?

Many dealers are PAYING to advertise their cars and even AT is being pushed down in the ranking by free and pseudo-free websites that are NOT dealer centric models. The irony is that dealers are sending their inventory to free sites that are pushing even down in the rankings.

Anyone looking for a reason WHY leads may be down in your market? It just may be your own actions!

How many leads a month are you getting from these FREE sites?

ADM Members..please listen.

STOP SENDING YOUR INVENTORY to "free" sites that are using your inventory to create landing pages by car model that:

  • sell your competitors cars
  • create leads that are sold to your competitors
  • generate ad revenue for someone else
  • that push your own website pages off Google Page One

Call your inventory management service
like HomeNet, Dealer Specialties, etc. and tell them to ONLY send your inventory advertising services that DELIVER results like, or any site THAT YOU HAVE PROVEN is not hurting you and is delivering real sales each month.

Get it in writing and then search for VIN numbers that you have in stock the following month. Need proof? See the images below.

Does ANYONE think that at least ONE Chevrolet Dealer should be showing up on Yahoo Page One or Page Two???

Views: 127

Tags: Automotive Advertising Network, Brian Pasch, car dealer inventory, dealer advertising, free inventory advertising


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Comment by Brian Pasch on May 21, 2010 at 1:57pm
AJ...Dealer 20 Groups need to make this a key point of conversation. Dealers have to fight off free sites that are offering no real leads or sales. The ones that provide leads and sales can stay but at last count, there are dozens of websites that are bastardizing dealer's most valuable assets for their own gain.

I'll repeat my controversial statement; "Dealers have to stop whoring out their inventory!"

Comment by Aj Maida on May 21, 2010 at 1:34pm
I was impressed by how simple Dealer Specialties made it for me to "turn off" the exports from your IVM. But folks keep clicking keep checking came to find out tonight that Chrysler, through their Chrysler Digital program are exporting to over 130 sites. When they answered my question the got all excited when they told me. I think it surprised them when I used Brian's logic as to why I didn't appreciate them doing that without discussing it with us. So my message people is keep looking. Also to George's point about competitors. I actually called mine and explained to them what I was doing, why I was doing it and that I would rather compete head to head on a level playing field. The shock was interesting but the argument was so logical that I think they are buying in. Now hopefully on Monday we will have a new SEO procedure starting to continue to counteract this and own Google Page One.
Comment by Brian Pasch on May 5, 2010 at 10:44am
Thank you for being the first feed management company to step up and address this matter. Your candor is appreciated and gives everyone a sense that you and Dominion companies are aligned with the dealer's best interests.

Yes, if a dealer pulls out their inventory from free sites, without doing any proactive management to build new assets optimized for their PMA, then you could argue that the free sites with competing cars dealer wins.

My suggestions is to stop non-productive sites and add productive websites on Google Page One. Go to Google and type in "fort myers used tundra" and you will see that 80% of the listings of Google Page One were from lead collectors and free listing sites. Only one Toyota dealer was on the page.

My challenge to dealers is to click on all the eight websites and ask if your website or a microsite you designed would do a better job of presenting cars and the value proposition. \

Dealers should look at these sites with a critical eye and see how these sites place other cars in front of yours or who are clearly selling ads space based on your inventory.

In my mind, these are not dealer centric lead providers and dealers need to address their attack on GPO in their PMA.

Comment by George Nenni on May 5, 2010 at 9:13am
Brian, thanks for the post, a good topic for dealers to consider. Hearing you mention this concern during your DD8 presentation (which by the way was fantastic, but my dog literally ate the hacky sack!) prompted me to research how we address this on the Dealer Specialties side. We agree dealers should be aware of their placement for vehicle specific listings and website rankings in search engine results, when evaluating performance of both free and paid subscription web portals. Dealer Specialties makes it easy on our dealers by offering the flexibility to add/remove their vehicle inventory from participating in these sites. However, we don’t believe that the best solution is to completely remove your presence from these “free” sites. Unless all dealers band together to remove their inventory listings from these sites, chances are that your competitors will still appear in the search results. In some tests we ran, searching for specific makes, models and trim levels in a specific geographic area, we found that our dealers benefitted from Google page 1 ranking with both their website and the free 3rd party listings, and effectively “boxed out” non-Dealer Specialties dealers (since they lacked this distribution).

We also actively work with partners like in delivering measurable results. Collaboratively, among other “free” portals, share lead reporting information that a dealer can access at any time in our inventory management tool ( contributed 2100+ leads for us in the past 30 days).

Likely other data syndicators may lack the downstream tracking and accountability Dealer Specialties has. Our strictly enforced distribution contracts with 3rd party portals limit their use of the dealers’ data, set up mechanisms to track the delivered results, and actively protect the interests of the dealers. Our agreements also limit the portals ability to spider the dealer inventory, which by the way dealers will fall victim to from friendly and not-so-friendly portals, that limits their control over syndication.

We advise that syndication is good, but take control of it, track it, contractually limit it, and do it with a provider that has plenty of experience in helping.
Comment by Brian Pasch on April 30, 2010 at 11:28am
I love the concept of getting customers to post reviews online since Google Maps rolls them up. However, for most dealers I advise them to push review websites off Google Page One. You also MUST push Edmunds off Google Page One because on your "page" they collect leads and sell them to your competitors. So, yes, you can own all 10 organic listings for your dealership name.
Comment by Brian Pasch on April 30, 2010 at 10:38am
To add to that comment, that is why dealer's "branded" websites need to present their best foot forward to consumers. These free sites can't hold a torch to a dealer site that is well designed.

So, dealers need to stop assisting those who would block their site and then make sure you have really good phone handling skills inside the dealership.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 30, 2010 at 10:33am
(continued from previous comment) ...It is important to realize that just as a customer is more likely to use their phone to contact a dealer in regards to something they see online, these same customers, the ones that ACTUALLY BUY CARS, are even MORE LIKELY to physically visit the dealership after seeing something they like online than they are to contact the dealer in any way prior to their physical visit to the dealership.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 30, 2010 at 10:30am
Regarding Brian's comment; for the past 5 years, J. D. Power and Associates have surveyed over a million car buyers AFTER THEY ACTUALLY PURCHASED A VEHICLE, and of those that had visited the dealer's website PRIOR to visiting the dealership in person, 21% contacted the dealership prior to the physical visit to the facility... Of that 21% that contacted the dealership prior to the visit, 83% SPOKE TO SOMEONE AT THE DEALERSHIP BY PHONE... 24% COMPLETED A LEAD FORM ONLINE. The 7% "Overlap" are those who did both.

So, Brian's comment about the customer's being more likely to call after visiting the dealer's website, microsite or ad campaign landing page is waaaayyyyy true...

Comment by Aj Maida on April 30, 2010 at 9:02am
Ok so here is my next question. On our Page one there are review sites such as Edmunds, DealerRater (I am a paid, Certified Dealer and have conquest ads on my competitors sites here), Merchant Circle. We have some very positive reviews on these sites. I know that people will be directed to them through the "maps" section but do I want and can I chase them off our page one?
Comment by Brian Pasch on April 30, 2010 at 9:00am
Great thoughts Mark. Leads are not the entire picture and consumers are possibly 3x more likely to call then submit a lead. That's why tracking numbers must be a part of your traditional and digital marketing strategy. This post was to encourage dealers to measure and make sure that the lack of measurement is not sabotaging their end goals. When you measure, the clear winners will stand out the the losers should be cut out.

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