Industry News & Trends

AutoTrader.com Agrees to Buy HomeNet Automotive

AutoTrader.com Agrees to Purchase Auto Inventory Solutions Leader HomeNet Automotive

AutoTrader has been on a roll… AutoTrader.com buys vAuto, AutoTrader.com buys KBB. And now AutoTrader.com announced that they will be buying HomeNet before the end of the year.

The press release is after the jump.

What do you think of this purchase??


ATLANTA and WEST CHESTER, Pa., Dec. 1, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — AutoTrader.com, the Internet’s ultimate automotive marketplace and consumer information website, has agreed to purchase HomeNet Automotive, a leading provider of online inventory management and merchandising solutions.

The purchase is expected to close by the end of the year.

The addition of HomeNet to the AutoTrader.com family of companies and brands provides AutoTrader.com with a best-in-class inventory management solution for the thousands of auto dealers who use AutoTrader.com to present their inventory of new, used and certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles to online vehicle shoppers.

Founded in 1996, HomeNet’s proprietary “Get. Edit. Deliver” technology has helped thousands of automotive dealers nationwide generate a high volume of leads and increase online vehicle sales.  HomeNet’s signature solution, the Inventory Online (IOL) vehicle marketing suite, is an industry-leading vehicle inventory management and marketing system.

AutoTrader.com’s purchase of HomeNet will bring a variety of benefits to dealers who post vehicles for sale on AutoTrader.com and to car shoppers who use AutoTrader.com to research and compare vehicles, find dealer specials, review inventory of cars for sale and select dealerships to visit.

For dealers, incorporating HomeNet’s proprietary inventory management system into AutoTrader.com’s dealer tools will allow for easier and faster inventory management and merchandising online.  Dealers will be able to upload their listings faster, make updates and adjustments to their listings more easily and overall enjoy more flexibility and control in presenting their inventory for sale on AutoTrader.com.

Consumers shopping for vehicles on AutoTrader.com will have access to better vehicle information, enhanced listings that include more photos and dealer comments, advanced search capabilities and more frequent updates and information about the cars they are shopping for and researching.

The agreement to purchase HomeNet is the third in a series of acquisitions AutoTrader.com has announced in recent months.  In September, AutoTrader.com announced the purchase of vAuto, the automotive retail industry’s leading provider of advanced software tools for used vehicle management, pricing and inventory optimization.  Then, in October, AutoTrader.com announced its planned acquisition of Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com), one of the most recognized and influential brands in the automotive industry.

“We are always looking for opportunities to grow our company, organically or through acquisitions, in ways that will make AutoTrader.com even more valuable to the auto manufacturers and dealers who advertise on our site and to the 15-million-plus consumers who shop for vehicles on our site every month,” said AutoTrader.com President and CEO Chip Perry.  “We were fortunate to be in a position to purchase vAuto and to agree to purchase Kelley Blue Book and HomeNet when these companies came available and we are excited about the value our combined companies can bring to the very competitive automotive shopping and marketing industries.”

AutoTrader.com plans to operate HomeNet as an independent subsidiary.

Bob Landers, a 10-year AutoTrader.com veteran sales executive who was formerly vice president for AutoTrader.com’s Southeast division, has been appointed general manager and vice president of HomeNet.  He will be the top executive at the company, replacing founder and former president and CEO Jesse Biter.  Landers will work directly with other leaders at HomeNet and be responsible for day-to-day operations and long-term growth at HomeNet.

About HomeNet Automotive, LLC: HomeNet Automotive helps the automobile industry save time and sell more vehicles. It is the leading provider of inventory merchandising, management, and marketing solutions, led by its flagship product, Inventory Online (IOL) Internet Marketing Suite. IOL is a web-based vehicle marketing solution that helps tens of thousands of automotive dealers to engage buyers online and bring them into the showroom by streamlining the process of converting raw vehicle data into consumer-friendly and emotional online ads. For more information, please email [email protected], visit http://www.homenetauto.com, or call (877) 738-3313

About AutoTrader.com

Atlanta-based AutoTrader.com, created in 1997, is the Internet’s ultimate automotive marketplace and consumer information website. AutoTrader.com aggregates in a single location millions of new cars, used cars and certified pre-owned cars from thousands of auto dealers and private sellers and is a leading online resource for auto dealers, individuals and manufacturers to advertise and market their vehicles to in-market shoppers. The company also provides a robust suite of software tools for dealers and manufacturers to help them manage and market their vehicle inventory and display advertising on the Internet. AutoTrader.com continues to grow key business metrics, including revenue, profitability and site traffic. Today, AutoTrader.com attracts more than 15 million unique monthly visitors who utilize the site to review descriptions, photos and videos of vehicles for sale; research and compare vehicles; review pricing and specials; and read auto-related content like buying and selling tips and editorial coverage of major auto shows and automotive trends. AutoTrader.com operates two other auto marketing brands, AutoTraderClassics.com and AutoTraderLatino.com. AutoTrader.com also owns used vehicle management software company vAuto. AutoTrader.com is a majority-owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. Providence Equity Partners is a 25 percent owner of the company and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is also an investor. For more information, please visit www.autotrader.com.

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    Chris
  • December 1, 2010
Imagine just one cable company to order your TV from? It's going to be VERY expensive, just like it WILL become for car dealers to have a web presence. If you are a budding programmer and are building your own platform that can complete with Auto trader to keep prices down and competitive, this is your time to shine. How much should a dealership really have to payout monthly between all the different vendors before it's really not a profitable venture any more?
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    sellmorecars
  • December 1, 2010
Let the Autotrader bashing begin!
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I agree with Chris. This can't be good on the cost side of things for dealers. Must be nice working for Autotrader though....
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Wow, AutoTrader must have a ton of money to buy all of these companies, wonder where it came from?
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@Kevin They found a few billion stuffed down behind the back seats of their reps cars while digging out the seat belts.
That's funny Rob :)


The word on the street is that all these purchases are being done for an IPO. Cox is leveraging AutoTrader.com to make up for some of their other medias that aren't doing too well.


What this means to the auto industry is anyone's guess. I prefer to think with passionate people remaining at the helms, like Dale Pollak, innovation won't decrease too much. But only time, non-compete clauses, and management changes will tell. It also depends on what Cox's end goal is. You don't want to be too risky when shooting for an IPO.


It will be interesting to see if a major product offering/integration occurs. With the right innovative minds there can be some extremely powerful data integrations between all the Cox automotive properties (don't forget Manheim is in there too).


The future of relationships between automotive dealers and the AutoTrader.com products is either going to be dark/stagnant or bright. It is really too early to tell, and it could be years before we know.
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They had been talking about this for a long time. Not sure how this will all play out for the dealers involved, but the posts and comments about concerns of additional costs to dealers certainly seemed warranted. Oh, one more thing... was there a typo regarding HomeNet? "provides AutoTrader.com with a best-in-class inventory management solution" - who says "best-in-class"?
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@Alex - I'm with you on the product innovation side of things. These acquisitions aren't happening just so three segment leaders can simply place their names side-by-side under one roof...contrary to popular opinion & belief, there are some sharp minds behind the scenes & they have been watching & listening very closely.


The data capabilities & research resources between vAuto, KBB & HomeNet run deep.


Combine all three and the opportunities for innovative solutions for dealers & consumers are incredible.


Next year's conference season could start one of the biggest waves of new products & services. (Great stuff that could also help the industry prepare for an anticipated full recovery in the next couple of years.)


I'm looking forward to see the changes...
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Ok a question for the people commenting on this post. What was the last thing ATC built that was innovative?


If you're waiting to see the next wave of innovative products come out of this conglomoration, don't hold your breath.


The goal for ATC now, find ways to get to $3billion in revenues with a healty bottomline then IPO. Anyone want to guess where that will come from?


I could be wrong but not likely, I have history on my side.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • December 1, 2010
I would likely say an IPO is in the future.


I have received a lot of emails today asking me what I thought and why. I don't initially have an opinion. However, as I and others have stated in the above comments, AT has acquired several points of extremely valuable data. The questions is, can they connect the dots and if they do, how long will it take. More importantly will it swing in favor of the consumer or the dealer or can they find a balance, or does it even matter as our industry landscape progresses and changes.


I hope only the best for my many friends at Homenet thru any changes. I have been with Homenet for around 10 years and have made some great relationships with many of the employees there.
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@Larry,


The innovation we're seeking couldn't come from ATC alone - it'll happen as a result of their collective resources.


I'm not making blind predictions, but I am going off the conversations & feedback from those involved w/product dev.


The captains driving these ships are taking these leaps to prevent that historical malaise from continuing...


Sure, the entire exercise is one big bet. But they won't reach that goal without significant innovation & change.
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@Eric


Agreed, there is the potential for great product and learning with the data that is collected from the sites ATC has acquired.


Having been thru corp. bureaucracy in the past and the competing agendas of acquisitions, I am not putting much hope that ATC will bring anything more than higher pricing with little value.


For the dealers I hope I am wrong.
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Competition is key in this arena. Just as the Dealer Specialties type of work has gone internal with several dealers, it will only benefit them to move inventory hosting there as well. HomeNet is a good company but there is no reason many dealers couldn't replicate the idea - as long as the vendors (ATC, Cars, etc.) getting the finalized inventory can establish and accept a standard industry wide import protocol.

Are there suggestions for an industry standard inventory export/import process anywhere yet?
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    Al
  • December 2, 2010
google Oxymoron.


you'll find "AutoTrader.com and innovative product releases"


get ready for your rate increase calls.
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It has been over a year since AutoTrader had a inventory management and export tool, so it makes sense that they would buy one instead of reinventing the wheel, but like so many of the discussions regarding AT I have to ask "How much?"


AT is and has been the most expensive line on Internet marketing budgets for a long time. Most dealers are in the "you just have to have them" boat.


If AT decides to incorporate some of these new technologies into their existing product and give dealers a real sense of value and enhanced results then great, But if these new acquisitions mean another $1,500 a month ad on (Trade in Market Place) Then it would have to be something that actually worked and produced a worthy ROI. If not then they may simply be diluting a product that’s value has been in question for quite some time.
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@Larry,


I can appreciate how your experiences w/the corp. red tape skews your optimism...


I'm also hoping to see more of the value-added features that a site like AutoTrader should have - without adding any additional costs.
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I would predict that, from a dealer's perspective, there will be very little in the way of noticable changes in innovation. Where the most obvious change will come from will probably be in the interaction with the reps. The reps for AutoTrader, vAuto, KBB, and now HomeNet will begin to cross-promote the other products, particularly with special offers to combine product offerings. And there will no doubt be a consolidation of effort and manpower so that the logical next step would be for one rep to be able to sell (and get paid on) all products. A likely scenario: AutoTrader offers HomeNet in a "bundled" package at a slightly reduced price - and says "We accept inventory feeds from HomeNet every hour (or in real time) all others are once a day, 5 days a week". You can decide if you think that this is a positive or a negative from the dealer's perspective.
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    Mo
  • December 2, 2010
This acquisition is different from KBB and vAuto in the sense that ATC managers will be running Homenet directly.


Given the deep integration that currently exists between HomeNet and ATC, I think the management move highlights the big plans that ATC has for homenet.


what do you all think?
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    Todd Mathews
  • December 2, 2010
If I where one of the emplyoee (especially) sales reps of one of the companiies just purchased I would be looking for a new gig within the next year. The honeymoon will last about a year and then the consolidation will begin. When ADP purchased BZ Results back in 2006 it took about a year before the honeymoon ended and then the ax was pulled and the whacking began
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    Stuart
  • December 2, 2010
I hope with the Trader behind them their employees who have gone above and beyond to exceed my expectations time after time dont get shafted if it wasn't for their stellar effort I would have fired them years ago.

I wish the entire team over there good luck in this transition.


And is anyone taking bets on who gets acquired next? Boy they sure are creating a monopoly huh ??
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Although we’re becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of AutoTrader.com, HomeNet will remain an independent entity and operate as usual.


HomeNet and AutoTrader.com have been partners for several years, and in the last year have been working diligently on a collaborative solution to enable all dealers to upload more of their inventory data faster and more easily to AutoTrader. By sharing our technology, we make ATC more valuable to active consumers, thus exposing your inventory to more eager buyers.


HomeNet now benefits from having AutoTrader.com’s considerable resources at our disposal as we continue to grow and create more innovative products that help you sell more cars and save time.


We greatly value your loyalty, and we want to assure you that you can expect the same top notch products and customer service you've experienced from us in the past.


The bottom line is we look forward to ensuring this relationship is a resounding success for all concerned… you, most of all!


Gretchen Kennedy

Director of Marketing

HomeNet Automotive, LLC
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@Gretchen


While I applaud your willingness to jump in here Gretchen, doing so with such an obvious company line is almost insulting in some ways.


You want us to believe talk to us not at us with a company written piece.


Thanks for the effort though.
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Have to agree w/Larry..


If we met in person Gretchen & started talking about this topic, I doubt you'd talk like that.


All vendors are "collaboratively diligent" these days.


I'm hoping this all-star power company shows us stuff that makes us say "Holy crap I need that" rather than just "Oh, how much more is that gonna cost?"
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    Jeff Collins
  • December 3, 2010
As it stands I'm not able to bring any positive comments to the forum concerning AutoTrader. Yesterday my AT Rep paid me a visit to let me know that I had lost our Alpha

to a dealer outside of our PMA!! If you think you have first right of refusal, you don't. Ofcourse they played the "Read your Agreement" card. There is a disclaimer for dealers with a discounted rate waiving first rights of refusal. We have several agreements that were executed by AT that DO NOT have our initials acknowledging that we understand we have waived our rights of refusal. Even after AT was made aware that the agreements had not been acknowledged by us they stood firm. This is bad business. What are your thoughts?
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Jeff they did you a favor the Alpha program is a joke. If you look at everything ATC has brought to your deaelrship you will see that it is no more than cheap magazine tricks they have brought online.


Get rid of your alpha program and Autotrader entirely and compete with them for the customer, they don't have the footprint they want you to belive.
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I'm curiuos, how many people in this discussion can show an accurate ROI year to date that makes AT a worthy investment for your dealership.
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    Jeff Collins
  • December 3, 2010
Larry- As always you are correct. It's principle and personal now.

Rob- If you include what is co-op'd there is no ROI. It's a money pit. AT collects just over $10k for our services $6400 of which is paid by our IMR acct. 10 times earnings with IMR participation 3 times earnings without. Keep in mind that you need to factor in the amount of time and brain damage associated with updating your spotlight ads, special offers and dynamic display ads. The back of my neck is tensing up just thinking about it.

There site absolutely crawls at a snails pace making said updates such a pain in the ass!
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    DP
  • December 3, 2010
It scares me to see these wonderful independent, home grown organizations be acquired by ATC. Their track record is very weak( Auto Mart/Auto Trader) and senior leadership is comprised by the most unintelligent humans you could ever expect. Hopefully these folks who led that merger (Ian, Joe) have been put out to pasture. I wish these folks the very best of luck and hope that fate will treat them much better than it did the 3,500 employees who lost their jobs for no good reason
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    Todd Mathews
  • December 3, 2010
As I posted in a previous post, if you work for any of these companies you would do yourself a favor by going into these acquisitions with your eyes wide open and know that AT already has a sell channel in place and it's much cheaper to consolidate ALL products into the existing sells channel rather than have several channels selling the products individually. I have been there and done that and many of my friends bought into the honeymoon speech placed lost their jobs. Not trying to rain on the parade, but that's reality.
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@Jeff I understand, I have heard the same things out of a lot of dealers and the same lack of results for a lot of work.


@All - Keep in mind ATC isn't a technology company and it isn't a web marketing company it is at its root a magazine that had a base and too that base online lower its distribution cost and charging more money. So ask yourself what do you think they are really going to be able to do with more technology and more data?


We have all seen many large technology companies in this industry swallow ONE good product or company only to later bastardize it and eventually kill it, what do you think a non-technology company is going to do with 3 of them?


The fact is that this is not about giving dealers a better product or more help, this is strictly about getting to a top line number that makes for a good IPO and the Top cat cashing out leaving whoever is left to figure that out, if they can.


For the money I see dealers spending with ATC you are better off taking that money with a good strategy to eBay motors, the visitors there are far more engaging than ATC for a lot of reasons I won't go into in this comment.


Get out of ATC before you lose more money. It's just like when you got out of the paper you'll tense up in anticipation of the business drop only to find it doesn’t and you'll find a lot for efficient uses for the money you were spending with ATC.
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    Tammy DeFazio
  • December 4, 2010
@all
I just want to say "thanks" for the positive comments about HomeNet Automotive in general and for the goodwill generated towards our employees during this transition; we appreciate your support. While it is still early, the plan is to remain operating independently,and I am confident (and extremely optimistic and excited) we can find a way to incorporate some of the combined resources to offer/support more robust solutions in the automotive space. The opportunities seem endless when you really think about it; I, personally, will do all I can to ensure all the opportunities are thought out.
Thanks again for your support.

Tammy DeFazio
Director, Client Services
HomeNet Automotive, LLC
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Tammy did you even read the post or the comments? I had to go back thru and read to see there were any positive comments or support.


Did I miss one?


Is this what dealers can expect the corp. glad hand? Do you really think that if you keep thanking us for our support that somehow you will get it?


I don't understand either of the comments from Homenet.
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    Tammy DeFazio
  • December 4, 2010
Larry,

I should have been more specific instead of replying in general. I was referring to comments "their employees who have gone above and beyond to exceed my expectations time after time dont get shafted","I hope only the best for my many friends at Homenet thru any changes". It was not my intent to infer that everyone supported the acquisition or even HomeNet in general. I completely understand the frustration and speculation of changes, but as I've said, I'm optimistic some great innovative changes could be introduced into the automotive space with the combined resources.
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    Todd Mathews
  • December 4, 2010
I apologize for the redundancy on my part here, but it's has to be echoed that again and again. This is move to drive an IPO or in the case of many other large Corp companies is to drive stock prices. I really feel for the folks in the companies being acquired because as in the case of Homenet, they are a first class company with a first class leader in Jesse Bitter (I have know Jesse personally for many years) and we want to believe the honeymoon speeches of how this is good for everyone etc. But my experiences tells me a whole different story and again please just approach it all with your eyes wide open, in the end you may thank me.


Larry Bruce; let's look back at your comments in 2 years within the post and it will prove how on the money you regarding this topic. If anyone wants to bet on that, my money is on Larry.
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@Tammy – I see now, thanks for clearing that up. I am with you Tammy I hope the employees that worked hard to get Homenet where it is today don't get the shaft, however that is inevitable. Some will get let go some will move on that is the nature of things, good luck to all of them.


I appreciate you optimism although I don't share it.


@Todd – Thanks for the support, it is much appreciated although I don't like being right about things that hurt dealers so much I rather be wrong here, unfortunately ATC’s actions support me being right in this case.


Dealers need to limit their exposure with ATC and now the companies they own as much as they can. Better to do that now and have options than to be deep with this company and have your bill go through the roof and service through the floor then have to scramble put new strategies in place, the name of the game here “DERVISIFY”.


Move some of your budget to eBay and start leaning what it takes to be successful there while you can make mistakes if you are already there put a bigger focus on it.


Look and talk to new inventory export providers while you have time to make the right deal.


Look and talk to new inventory management companies while you have time as well.



Don't wait until the hammer drops be proactive and put yourself in the right position to make a good decision.
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    Dave White
  • December 4, 2010
I have to agree with Larry here. It does seem very disingenuous for a representative of one of the companies involved to jump into this discussion with the "thanks for the support" and "we are looking forward to great things" corporate talking points. To assume that the driving force behind this, and the other acquisitions, was anything other than profit driven is extremely naive. With regard to the comments on the job security of the newly acquired personnel; following the Honeymoon period (9 months to a year) there will a significant number of layoffs. Typically the new ownership looks to keep 10-15% of the original staff - and that's usually the younger, talented, and lower paid employees.
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Thanks Dave and unfoutunately you're right on the money with your numbers and the layoffs.
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    Gimme a break
  • December 4, 2010
Larry,


I'm willing to bet that all of your business ventures were profit driven. Or were they philanthropic? It sounds to me like you hsve an axe to grind and are afraid of what the partnerships might do to your business. ATC might be doing this strictly for profit. Does that make them evil? Don't be mad because somebody is trying to build a bigger and better mousetrap. Better...maybe not but only time will tell. You at least have to give them credit for trying.
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Gimme a break…Really?


First of all coming into a room hiding your identity makes you suspect right off the bat.



Secondly make no mistake every venture I have done has been for profit, there is nothing evil about profit when you provide value that is equal to that profit, and therein lies my issue. ATC has continued to raise prices adding no more value. ATC has continued to try and establish themselves between the dealer and the customer even going as far has siphoning off the dealers own traffic from their websites and making the dealer pay for it.


Provide value consummate to your price and you will never have an issue with me, you can make as much profit as you like as long as I am getting to make a fair profit too.


As for ATC threatening my business well, I don't think we are in any danger of that so no I have no worry about ATC, Homenet, VAuto or Kelly from that perspective.


Give them credit, I would certainly give them credit for trying if that’s what they were doing, their actions in the past and as of late say to me they are not trying at all. However as I have said, I could be wrong and for the dealer’s sake I hope I am, so go ahead ATC prove me wrong no one will be happier to admit it than I will if you do.
J
A New Spin on the AutoTrader Buy-a-Thon


Why in the world is 'Trader (Cox Enterprises) buying up gigantic Automotive Internet properties like KBB.com, vAuto and HomeNet? Obviously, sellers are driven by possible Tax law changes, but, what's motivating the "fat finger" at 'Trader HQ?


It's very possible that Goolge's going to eat their lunch and render them a 2nd class citizen. It's happening in other verticals, take a look...

<a href="http://forum.dealerrefresh.com/f21/new-spin-autotrader-buy-thon-1394.html" rel="nofollow">http://forum.dealerrefresh.com/f21/new-spin-autot...</a>
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Joe in my opinion the motivation of the &quot;Fat Finger&quot; is pretty clear. Cox has tried selling ATC before with no luck. This buying frenzy is a rollup of top line revenue to get to an IPO.


ATC has no strategy or idea what they will do with these companies except raise rates enough to get a revenue rate over $3 billion, IPO and exit.


No doubt Google has a habit of taking the inefficiency out of consumers searching for relevant items and content and that the car finding process may be on their radar, this maybe the driver behind the push to go public but make no mistake these acquisitions are a part of an IPO strategy.
J
Larry,



I spent 7 years as a wall street stock trader. The financial process you are describing is called a Rollup. Your idea has merit, but, like my idea, we&#039;re just taking our best guess.


ATC is not buying the properties, Cox Enterprises is. Cox Ent. is privately owned MEDIA EMPIRE that includes newspapers, television, radio, cable television, CEllular Service and other businesses. ATC is one small part of the Cox Empire. Cox has no active history of rollups, but, the primary owner of Cox Enterprises is Anne Cox Chambers and she&#039;s almost 90. A IPO from the Cox Empire would be historic indeed.


If your roll-up scheme is true and Cox is looking to go public, then this isnt the only buy Cox has made. You&#039;ll get confirmation in seeing Cox buy up many other smaller properties to improve it&#039;s diverse portfolio. If you then see other buys, you have to factor in the Tax bonus sellers are getting that would fuel this wave of acquisitions.



That being said, if this is a Rollup, it sure is a strange one. Rollups often bring many small players together to share common resources to inflate profits. I don&#039;t see a lot of overlap as all three are really unique models.



Lastly, the Cox&#039;s are no different than Mr Biter. The tax impact that helped force Dale P and Jesse B to sell is what the Cox family will be dealing with.


If I were called out to make a bet, given the Cox history and it&#039;s gigantic empire, I see this as further diversification in the massive Cox Empire.
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    Innocent Bystander
  • December 5, 2010
@Joe, a private equity firm acquired a 25% interest in ATC earlier this year, and provided the capital that has funded these acquisitions.

While COX may not be looking to go public, a spin-off of ATC isn&#039;t out of the question in 3-5 years.
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@Joe


Innocent Bystander, whoever that may be, is providing that key piece of the puzzle.


While I am sure Cox as no plans of going public private equity doesn&#039;t get involved at this level without a clear exit strategy, in this case IPO.


You&rsquo;re right this isn&#039;t your typical Rollup but it is one just the same. Time will tell if they can execute to get the right multiples for exit.


To get them they will need to keep expenses low and raise top line revenue IE there is a price hike coming and no innovation or value to go with only new sales spin.


It just is what it is and dealers need to prepare now for it and diversify.
J
Larry writes:


&quot;...While I am sure Cox as no plans of going public private equity doesn&rsquo;t get involved at this level without a clear exit strategy, in this case IPO. &quot;


Larry, Look at how you lock yourself into a position with no facts what so ever. C&#039;mon Larry, this is tea-leaf reading. This is conjecture. Where in the hell does conviction come into play here? All anyone has is shallow &quot;arm chair QB&quot; evidence to connect the dots, but somehow you have locked on to your &quot;best guess&quot; and are treating it like gospel.
J
Larry writes: &quot;...It just is what it is and dealers need to prepare now for it and diversify.&quot;


Larry, could it be that you sell something that fits a dealers need to diversify?


We all know it&#039;s Yes.


Is it possible your opinion gets colored by your business mission? I am sure you&#039;ll reply that your beliefs were not shaped by your business model. I&#039;ll roll with you on that. Here is a little intellectual test.


To arrive at a &quot;best guess&quot; decision you must fully explore the opposite side of the coin.


Based on what little evidence that we all see, construct an outcome where the acquisition of these properties fits the Cox Enterprises business history and it&#039;s profile. Also, list all joint ventures that Cox has made in the last dozen years AND list out all joint ventures that have produced an IPO.


Larry, I know you won&#039;t produce this. All I am saying is you nor I have no idea if this will end in an IPO. Even if it is designed to become an IPO, it won&#039;t become one unless the stock market is healthy. And what if it did become an IPO in 3-5 years, Google maybe &quot;so last year&quot; by then!!
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@Joe, What are you talking about!? How am I locked into anything? Joe how the exit for the investors in ATC is all just mental masturbation, the exit means nothing to either of us. What is going to be happening over the next few months or years to get to that exit does mean a great deal to dealers however.


Joe I give the people in this room a lot more credit to be able to read what I write look at their own situation and view of the facts and make their own decisions. I don&#039;t think anyone is taking my writing as gospel. We&rsquo;ll know in the next few months where my reading or the &ldquo;Tea Leaves&rdquo; was right or wrong and you know what in either case it won&rsquo;t change a thing.


I have been very transparent on my current business model; it has nothing to do with Homenet, VAuto or KBB. Although I have said dealers should look at alternatives to both Homenet and VAuto (Diversify). I have said and still maintain that dealers should look at eBay as an alternative to ATC, the customers there are higher quality and more engaged among other things and my business model has nothing to do with eBay or listings in general.


I have however been a long time critic, longer than you have been in this business Joe, of companies that work diligently to get between the dealer and the customer 3rd party lead companies in particular, but for the last 4 years ATC has fallen in that bucket.


I have shown with UserTesting.com that ATC doesn&rsquo;t have near the footprint they would have a dealer believe they do and that a dealership can and should compete with them online particularly in their local market. My new business absolutely could be an alternative to ATC along with eBay as I have described above. I will be happy to say it so you maybe will feel better:



&ldquo;Yes I believe a dealership spend with my company would produce more than a spend with ATC and I would show them data that would support them moving that spend or a portion there of to my company&rdquo;



Feel better now?


I have been following movements of ATC for some time now but I wouldn&rsquo;t say I have all of what you are describing above I would say as a hobby I have been pretty accurate over the years at connecting the dots to what might happen and I have been more right than wrong. IPO or not it is ATC&rsquo;s motivation that&rsquo;s in question not their exit.


ATC do you intend to grow by making good innovative products that we are happy to pay for?


OR


ATC do you intend to leverage these companies into a higher price point and margin to get to a goal of exit whatever that may be?


Their actions over the next 12 months will tell the tale, I bettin on the latter.
D
I have not talked to executives at AutoTrader.com in the past six months, but here is what is not speculation:

1. AutoTrader.com and Cars.com are not just websites, they are listing services. They spend many millions of dollars putting the inventory of their customers on other sites for added exposure. Getting AT listings back on kbb.com will mean more phone calls, emails, and walk-in traffic for their dealers. Did they pay too much? What are the other parts worth? I don&#039;t know those answers. What I do know is they bought more audience. As to the timing, Kbb was going to sell to someone.

2. At Cars.com, I paid DMI to do what AutoTrader.com pays HomeNet for. I doubt AT has very many suppliers they are more dependent on. The technology integration is so complex it is not easy to switch vendors. It would be scary for AT to watch someone else buy HomeNet.

3. Neither AT nor Cars.com have ever been satisfied with their ability to help dealers help themselves. Both models are participatory, and most of their dealer customers don&#039;t get but a fraction of the value from the service that they could or should. Poor merchandising lowers the rate of leads per VDP. I oversaw the dealer training effort of Cars.com, and it&#039;s pretty obvious Dale and vAuto helped dealers get more value from their listings than my team or the AT team ever did.


I don&#039;t know what new products or new financial structures may come of this, but these are the kinds of businesses a company like AT would like to own. It&#039;s not the same as vertical integration, but some of the justification is similar.


For those looking for a way to hold AT accountable on rate, cost per VDP is the answer. You absolutely must know your current cost per VDP before deciding to add features, scale back, or buy alternative listings solutions. In most regions, two of the best buys are AT Featured and Cars.com. I have yet to find a dealer who received a marginal cost per VDP from going to Premium that was as good as Cars.com or Featured. Premium is a good buy in many cases and not in others, but AT is not going to crunch the numbers for you.
J
  • J
    Jeff
  • December 7, 2010
Dennis,


A dealer can&#039;t accurately compare the cost of VDP&#039;s between ATC and Cars.com. Cars.com counts their VDP&#039;s much differently and over states their VDP&#039;s in relation to how ATC counts theirs. What is your suggestion to be able to compare these two side by side objectively. Dealer are confused on this matter and Cars.com does a great job of pushing their numbers side by side. However, it really is smoke and mirrors. If the 2 counted their VDP&#039;s the exact same way, it would be a much different story wouldn&#039;t it.
Jeff - would you mind clarifying the differences between a Cars.com and ATC VDP?
K
Same question as Alex here (and btw, VDP is vehicle details page...)
L
  • L
    Lightnup
  • December 7, 2010
Jeff is correct, the ATC and cars SRP/VDP counts can&#039;t be compared side by side, particularly when calculating cost per VDP. Here is how it was explained to me. I&#039;ll leave it up to a cars.com rep to refute it.

When a cars.com shopper who is already on a vehicle details page (thus, 1 VDP count) clicks any additional links on that details page (view dealer details, see our inventory, view our website, view map, etc.), they are counted as additional VDPs by cars.com. ATC only counts the original click to get to the vehicle details page.

Additionally, when a dealer&#039;s car is on page 3 of the search results but the shopper never gets to page 3, cars.com still counts it as an SRP. ATC only counts it as an SRP if the shopper actually viewed the page that the car is on.
R
I think it is interesting how this latest purchase by AT has become the straw that broke the camel&rsquo;s back. It is obvious that there is a lot of pent up frustration with AT and it didn&#039;t just appear out of the blue when they began flexing their wallet. Is it due to AT being such an expensive product and the perception is that they are expanding their reach on the backs of dealers?


The AT conundrum has been a mind game for dealers for years. You use them, you pay big! You don&#039;t, and feel like you are missing something. Are you really? AT probably has the highest cancelation and re-sign occurrence in the automotive industry.


Regardless of any of the conversations that are taking place here, dealers need to carefully evaluate where they are allocating their marketing budgets. Is AT the best place for a dealer to spend between five and twenty thousand dollars each month? There was a time when a dealer would be scared to death to pull their newspaper advertising, Is it because AT is an online service that we feel they are a necessity?


I am in the process of evaluating my AT ROI for both stores. This will involve reaching out to my company rep. I suggest that all dealers concerned do the same. Dealers shouldn&rsquo;t base their decision to use or not use AT on whether or not they are becoming an evil empire, but simply whether or not they help you sell cars and make a fair profit.
J
  • J
    Jeff
  • December 7, 2010
Alex,


Lightnup explained it for me. ATC only counts the click into the vehicle as 1 VDP. However, it is my understanding (although the answer varies depending on which Cars.com rep you talk to), Cars.com counts not only the click into the vehicle but also every click that happens within the actual VDP as well. I have never been able to get Cars.com to give an official explanation of this. Maybe you can help Alex. It makes sense. It is my understanding that ATC has 35% more traffic, their visitors spend more time on the site, and their visitors view more pages. If all of that is true, then if when a dealer is looking strictly at the data, ATC activity should be higher if everything else is equal. Am I missing anything here? Thanks


BTW...Now that Cars.com is testing Premium Listings and their version of ALPHA, does anybody know the price?
D
A VDP is a specific page view. That is a pretty simple metric that needs to be comparable across every listings service, from AT and Cars.com to the local newspaper with a thousand listings on their website. Combined, these companies take in over $1 billion from dealers each year under the banner of internet transparency for consumers. They need to provide the same level of value transparency to dealers.


Cars.com clearly lists the website transfers, map views, and ad prints as separate metrics in their reports. I was a Vice President at Cars.com for three years and if what Lightnup says is true it is news to me and I&#039;d insist the practice be stopped immediately. Cars.com does not separate used from new and AT does. I&#039;ve told Cars.com they need to change to be like AT, and they assure me they are working on it. I&#039;ve also heard Cars.com people say AT inflates their VDPs. I don&#039;t buy that either.


SRPs are slightly different because Cars.com has twice as many vehicles on this page as AT does. However, when I approached Cars.com on the exact claim made by Lightnup above, I was assured that this is not how SRPs are measured. A Search Results Page is a single page of search results. I can&#039;t even find anyone who knows how to attribute a page view to a vehicle that is not on that page.


My claim is that the appropriate value comparison is cost per VDP. What makes me suspicious of all these claims of difference is that there absolutely cannot be any difference between VDPs from AT Featured and AT Premium. The same people who don&#039;t want value transparency between AT and Cars.com don&#039;t seem to want it here either.


Cost per VDP will vary from dealer to dealer based on pricing strategy and the types of vehicles stocked, but when you put the same vehicles and prices on all listings sites, the comparison at the dealer level is absolute.


Here is the deal. I&#039;ve enjoyed a very good relationship with both companies over the past ten years, but I am sick and tired of watching dealers spend this kind of money in a cloud of bull crap. I am willing to meet with the experts from both companies who can demonstrate how their metrics are derived. I&#039;ll pay my own way to wherever this meeting needs to take place. To me, Louisville, KY looks to be pretty close to the middle between Chicago and Atlanta. I&#039;m laying it down here and now, cost per VDP is the best way to compare the value of any listings site that charges on a subscription basis. Anyone who thinks this is not fair can post a date for when they are willing to meet me in Louisville. Alex and other independent marketing experts are welcome as well.
L
Ok you are wasting your time if you are trying to use VDP as a measurement for success or any type of value with ATC or Cars.


1. Just because someone views a vehicle page on either of these sites means absolutely nothing, because if they don&#039;t act on that view you can&rsquo;t change the page to get an action anyway.


2. If ATC and Cars are like most dealerships website, and I would tend to believe they are 80% of the visitors there never leave the listings area so you are looking at the smallest portion of the traffic.


3. If you think that somehow you are branding your dealership with the VDP inside ATC or Cars look again, you are the smallest part of the branding on that page and the visitor has forgotten you in the time it takes to click the back button.


The only ways you can measure these sites that I know of are the following:


1. Referrals back to you website that result in a lead &ndash; of coarse ATC and cars make it almost impossible for the customer to get to your site as they view the customer as their customer not yours, even though they have nothing to sell them.


2. Calls or leads that come directly from the listing


3. Sales and you can directly attribute back to ATC or Cars &ndash; put an offer in the listing that the visitor can only get from that listing. Free car washes for life, 2yrs free maintenance ect. make that offer compelling, something the visitor would be crazy not to act on and ask them to print the listing to get it. This notion of the mystical customer that just shows up on the lot is CRAP, you can and should track and hold ATC and Cars accountable.


Tracking VDP is and exercise in futility, you will only succeed and pissing yourself off and not being able to do a damn thing about it.
D
Larry,

Thank you for bringing this up. It is a common misperception.


VDP is the point of accountability separation in these participatory models. The number of contacts per VDP is almost entirely a function of the dealer&#039;s inputs (photos, seller&#039;s notes, video). Yes, a dealer needs to understand how well their VDPs convert into phone, email, chat, and walk-in contacts. In order to determine the break-even point for cost per VDP, it is also important to know the close ratio from these leads. However, those things can be dealt with in aggregate.


The discussion here is about determining the value of one listings service compared to another or the value of a basic service versus a premium package. For this it is best to hold constant as many variables as possible that are attributable to dealership activity. Professional research attempts to isolate the measurement to that which impacts the decision. If your pricing, merchandising, and lead handling are the same for all services, there will still be variances from VDP to sale due to statistical variation and small sample sizes.


Temporarily, my analysis is somewhat unfair to Cars.com because they offer chat and AutoTrader.com does not. This is a downstream variance caused by differences between the services. However, AT will soon have chat and we will be back to cost per VDP as the best metric for deciding which service or level of service provides the best value. This is the number dealers should hold their services accountable to. If a vendor is coming in to raise rates 20%, they better have raised VDPs 20% since the last agreement, fair and simple. However, if the inflated cost per VDP is still cheaper than the other listing services, then the decision is whether to pay the increase or buy none of the services at all. That decision is where your analysis comes in.
E
  • E
    Eric Miltsch
  • December 7, 2010
@Dennis - Thank you for adding your logical &amp; rational views re: comparing VDP&#039;s.


The last 3 sentences of your previous post sums it all up nicely IMO.
L
Dennis I see where you are trying to basically put an apples to apples value comparison on the two services but if even the lowest one is costing me $50+ CPA or $400+ per car sold then neither are valuable. That money can do more good elsewhere. So why bother trying to compare them?


This is right back to the newspaper model. You have to be the lowest guy in the paper or you&rsquo;re wasting your money. Anyone can see that is the case here, in fact VAuto made a business out of that.


There is a reason why Southwest is one of the most profitable airlines and they are not on orbitz.com.


Just Sayin
J
I am in Rob Fontano&#039;s camp. AT/Cars is not an all or nothing decision. I also agree with Dennis Galbraith&#039;s point where we need to judge our marketing/merchandising/sales process skills to decide if we&#039;ve given commitment needed to &quot;out-effort&quot; our competitors. I also like the ability to simplify the scoring between the 2 platforms using $ p/VDP.

C&#039;mon Larry, there you go again. Dennis offers very interesting and challenging thoughts where as every statement you make points back to validating your biz model. One &quot;Community friendly&quot; suggestion you could make was to follow that logic and drill down to Lead per VDP and Cost per lead (rather than throw it all out in favor of microsites)
L
@Joe, good god man! Where do you get this stuff, I haven&rsquo;t even brought up microsites, I even stayed away from it when you were baiting to bring it up. Just quit it man, it&rsquo;s not about that.



The fact of the matter is that Cars and ATC both offer the dealer little in the way of working to differentiate themselves within the listing. Do yourself a favor Joe go look on eBay and see all of the ways the dealers there can design listings to differentiate themselves. Among other things this makes eBay a better choice when it comes to listing services. That&rsquo;s what we are talking about right? why do you keep wanting to bring it back to microsites?



Joe I don&#039;t think you get it; the internet is a direct response medium VDP isn&rsquo;t relevant when you are paying for a listing. Would you pay for a banner ad on a CPM basis that never got a click? A listing is a banner ad and a really bad on at that. The really bad part is that the visitor never gets to your website so there is zero benefit to the dealer from even a branding perspective. The only thing that matters here is CPA, what you can quantify, what you think you might be able to quantify on the floor and how much weight you want to give that.
L
@Rob, I wouldn&rsquo;t think any dealer out there is going to base his or her decision to use ATC on the evil empire card. I would, as I have said here be prepared as a dealer to move products to other vendors if and when a price hike comes, that&rsquo;s all.



Just don&#039;t get caught flat footed, and if you truly believe a price hike is coming it might not be a bad idea to make a long term deal with a new vendor now while you can negotiate good terms and pricing. If one goes up the rest usually will follow.
E
This is a conversation that, for many reasons, I wanted to stay out of. But a huge misconception (only one of many) is being perpetuated here.


@Larry - You said, &quot;This is right back to the newspaper model. You have to be the lowest guy in the paper or you&rsquo;re wasting your money. Anyone can see that is the case here, in fact VAuto made a business out of that.&quot;


Some cars need to be priced low: the cars in low-demand and high-supply. These are the cars that other dealers have had for 60-90 days and have priced to move. If a dealer prices one of these cars high, they are condemning themselves to an aged unit in 45-90 days.


Yes vAuto provides it&#039;s dealers with this information. But not so it&#039;s dealers can price these cars low, but rather so it&#039;s dealers can avoid these cars altogether.


When a dealer is armed with full supply and demand information about their market, at this moment in time, they can make better decisions about which cars to stock, how much to pay for them AND how to price them.


When a dealer is stocking short-supply, high-demand cars they need to know the &quot;Sweet Spot&quot; on price, but that will almost never be the lowest price.


I hope I was able to shed some light on what vAuto does, and more importantly, dispel the myth that a dealer needs to have the lowest price to drive traffic on classified sites.
M
  • M
  • December 8, 2010
Mark from AutoTrader.com. I wanted to clarify some points made in the above discussion over the past few days that may or may not relate to our recent acquisition activity. Our goal is always to maximize the value of our site to both the dealers and OEMs who advertise vehicles for sale on our site and to the car shoppers who visit our site. How these acquisitions will impact / add to that goal is something that will be worked out, and when we have news to report, the dealer and OEM community will be the first to hear it.


To clarify some points above, though &ndash; dealer contact information is all over both the SRP listings and the VDPs on AutoTrader.com. It has to be &ndash; we don&rsquo;t have the cars, the dealers do. If car shoppers couldn&rsquo;t figure out how to contact dealers from our site or find where the cars they want are located, they wouldn&rsquo;t come back to us. Our goal is always to direct the customer to the dealerships that have the cars they are interested in, which is why you&rsquo;ll find contact information, links, phone numbers, maps, branding and a variety of other ways for car shoppers and dealers to connect throughout our listings. The idea that we are trying to keep car shoppers and dealers apart by somehow hiding contact information doesn&rsquo;t hold water because our whole business model is based on connecting buyers and sellers. And every time a person views an SRP or a VDP is an opportunity to influence that car shopper to buy that car from you, so it&rsquo;s important to use that space as effectively as possible and we can help you do that (see below).


Walk in traffic &ndash; and walk in traffic with no previous contact via phone or email &ndash; is real: and it&rsquo;s the majority of customers in many cases. We&rsquo;ve proven it in a national study and proven it to dozens of dealerships in individual sourcing studies. The truth is, most car shoppers DO know where the various &ldquo;dealer rows&rdquo; are in their areas, and they DO shop and review cars online, and then they DO just get in their car and drive to &ldquo;dealer row&rdquo; when they are ready to test drive cars. In the beginning of the internet age, the idea that you could measure every single customer by a phone call or email lead captured the industry&rsquo;s attention. However, consumers have been trained &ndash; in the auto world and other industries &ndash; that they just won&rsquo;t get the information they want via phone and email. In the auto space, we&rsquo;ve found some of the information consumers want most is &ldquo;what&rsquo;s the best price you&rsquo;ll give me on that car&rdquo; and &ldquo;is that car still available&rdquo; &ndash; and they want it usually within a couple hours (some want it immediately). This is information, however, dealers are reluctant to share through these channels and many customers have experiences where dealers didn&rsquo;t get back to them in a timely way (or at all). So, as a result, consumers are more and more avoiding those channels, even as they increasingly research cars and dealerships online. The internet absolutely plays a role in helping dealerships brand and identify themselves for the consumer, but if consumers can&rsquo;t get answers to the questions they want via phone or email, they won&rsquo;t use those channels and they WILL just walk in after researching and finding the cars they want online.


Finally, AutoTrader.com has not raised rates in almost two years. We have rolled out and continue to roll out new products, which we do charge more/additional for, but that&rsquo;s standard business practice. I think it&rsquo;s important, and it&rsquo;s been mentioned further up here, for dealers who are using AutoTrader.com products to work with their AutoTrader.com sales reps and/or the AutoTrader.com dealer training team to maximize the value of the products they are already buying from AutoTrader.com (and do the same with all your vendors). With better photos, better merchandising, etc., we&rsquo;ve shown dealers how to increase lot traffic and sales without spending any additional money with us. Ask about walk in traffic and sourcing studies. Ask to see the information on consumers&rsquo; views on email leads and phone calls to dealerships. Our sales and training folks are smart people and their success is dependent on your success, so use them as resources to make the best use of the AutoTrader tools you&rsquo;re currently using and get a sense of what new tools we offer that may benefit you.


I&rsquo;m hopeful this helps offer some perspective and clears up some inaccuracies above, and you&rsquo;re hearing it directly from AutoTrader.com.
D
Hey all,


I would like to weigh-in with some personal and inside perspective on the Homenet acquisition and more generally what I think is going on with AutoTrader.


First, as I&rsquo;ve stated in the past, I thought long and hard about selling my company. In the end, I did not sell to the company with the highest offer and I even refused the direction of my board to run an auction. I chose to sell to AutoTrader because of all the potential acquirers, they had the data assets that would allow me to take inventory management to yet a higher level. Having said this, I never could have chosen AutoTrader if I didn&rsquo;t personally believe in their mission.


Now, I&rsquo;m fully aware that it wasn&rsquo;t more than about 3 or 4 years ago that you couldn&rsquo;t mention the name AutoTrader without arousing the ire of just about every dealer. It is true, in my opinion, that they push the envelope of pricing with dealers too hard.


Two years ago, I was invited to attend AutoTrader&rsquo;s annual meeting. I personally witnessed Chip Perry announce to an audience of over 1,000 field reps that their company had made significant errors and that if their mission did not change, the company&rsquo;s future prospects would be dim. Often, companies make mistakes, but seldom do they so publicly admit to them. At that same meeting, Chip Perry declared that from that point forward AutoTrader&rsquo;s sales objectives were not primary, but rather secondary to those of their dealer customers. Chip told the audience of 1,000 reps that they were no longer considered to be sales reps, but rather advertising consultants.


Chip&rsquo;s proclamations over the succeeding two years were backed up with action. First, all of the senior executive team members have been replaced with individuals that have a very different perspective on how to pursue success than their predecessors. There have been no dealer price increases whatsoever during the second half of 2008, all of 2009, all of 2010 and I have reason to believe for all of 2011 as well. Further, AutoTrader has invested millions of dollars of training for their field staff. They&rsquo;ve hired NADA Dealer Academy to re-tool their people to be consultants rather than sales representatives. I too have had the privilege over the past two years, of conducting such training.


I firmly believe that those who choose to characterize AutoTrader in a negative way are either laboring under impressions from the past, or perhaps just cynical because of their clear dominant market position. Fortunately, I&rsquo;ve done well enough financially that I don&rsquo;t need to carry any company&rsquo;s official line, nor would I ever risk my reputation by saying things that I don&rsquo;t believe. I will honestly tell all of you that the intentions and actions of this company today are very different from the past, and in fact very much aligned with my own. In spite of its proper intentions, everyone must remember that AutoTrader is still very large and capable in any given situation of not doing the right thing. I do believe, however that in such circumstances they would like to consider what ever grievance you might have with the intention of rectification or a mutually agreeable solution.


Now, let me share some insights with you about the recent acquisitions, I think there are several things involved. First, if you look into the future of the automobile business, I think that there are several things that can be fairly predicted. The first is the likelihood of continued margin compression. This isn&rsquo;t the doing of company&rsquo;s like AutoTrader, vAuto or others, but rather an inevitable consequence of the internet and information age. It&rsquo;s happening in every industry around the world. As the margin compression continues, I believe that there will be an increased consolidation of dealers. I fear that individually owned dealerships are likely going to go the way of the family farm. In an environment of shrinking margins, scale becomes of much greater importance. I don&rsquo;t know what the actual numbers might be, but I can well imagine that in 10 years, 80% of the dealerships could be owned by perhaps 300-500 companies.


OK, if you&rsquo;re a dealer solution provider looking at that future, what does it mean and what would you do? Well, I think the first thing that it means is that as dealer margins shrink, so will yours. It&rsquo;s unrealistic to think as a solution provider that you&rsquo;re going to extract a big fat margin from a dealer that has razor thin ones of their own. In such likely circumstances, how will you grow your business? The most reasonable answer is not to think that you&rsquo;re going to raise your prices, but rather to expand the products and services offered. This in fact has much to do with my motivation for selling vAuto and I suspect much of AutoTrader&rsquo;s with respect to their recent acquisitions.


I can personally assure you that of all the meetings I participated in during the past two months since the acquisition, I have not heard a single mention about raising dealer prices. Rather, all of the discussion has surrounded how AutoTrader can take the various products and services of its recently acquired companies and put them together to create best-of-breed dealer solutions. It is now clearly the responsibility of all of us in the expanded AutoTrader family to deliver on this promise. Our future performance in this endeavor is how I think we should ultimately be judged.


Finally, I can&rsquo;t help but take exception to an assertion that Vehicle Detail Pages (VDPs) are not important. For the past year or so, I&rsquo;ve gone around the country exhorting dealers to consider VDPs as &ldquo;the money metric&rdquo; in evaluating the performance of on-line classified advertising sites. Having had the privilege of working with over 3,000 used car departments, I&rsquo;ve found a clear mathematical correlation between the number of VDPs and the number of used vehicle retail sales. Specificially, during the 13 months that I researched and wrote the book Velocity 2.0, I tracked the retail sales and key internet metrics for 100 randomly selected vAuto clients. Consistently every month, the dealerships that got the highest number of VDPs sold the most retail used vehicles. Conversely, the dealers that got the fewest VDPs sold the least number of used vehicles. In fact, over the 13 months, I did not see a single dealer sell more than 100 retail units in a given month without generating 10,000 VDPs. So with this information clearly documented in the past and present, it&rsquo;s simply wrong to say that VDPs aren&rsquo;t what it&rsquo;s all about for any dealer advertising on a third-party classified site.


Simply stated, the more times that your vehicle appears on a vehicle detail page view, the more times a customer is going to call your switch board or show up at your front door with a highly qualified intent to purchase a specific vehicle in your inventory. The notion that most customers email rather than just show up has also been proven wrong by several dozen independent research studies. These studies are available to any dealer that questions this notion. Also, the assertion that search result pages and vehicle detail pages attempt to hide the dealer brand is absurd. Just simply go on an AutoTrader SRP or VDP and count the number of times you see the dealer&rsquo;s name and ways to contact them, including direct links.


In conclusion, I&rsquo;d be happy to discuss any issues that anyone has concerning AutoTrader, its recent acquisitions or the performance of its site. In reality, such discussions are healthy. I think it&rsquo;s also important to remember that solution providers need dealers, and dealers need solution providers. Ultimately, no one wins at the expense of the other.


Thanks for your consideration.


Dale
M
As the current Cars.com Ad Product VP and a friend/colleague of Dennis&#039;, I wanted to clarify some of the thoughts being discussed here.


1. At cars.com we calculate an SRP only when a vehicle actually appears on the page. We don&#039;t include vehicles that may be in the search but are not on the specific page being viewed (a default of 50 vehicles per page)


2. Likewise, we only measure a VDP once. After the consumer clicks on other items within the details page, we don&#039;t count that as an additional VDP.


3. We are considering breaking out (or segregating) new and used vehicles within our exposure reporting. As we continue to refine our new car products, we are looking for ways for a dealer to see more value, merchandise their new vehicles, etc. We also have questions about the differences between how new cars are marketed/listed versus used cars and quite frankly a VDP in the new car segment may not have the same meaning as it does in the used car segment in terms of the dealer&#039;s ability to change.


4. One of the factors we always take into consideration are the numerous spider/scraper sites out there and how they can impact both the SRP and VDP numbers. Certain automated scrape activities can skew both numbers a great deal. At Cars.com, we&#039;ve devoted a lot of technical resources to fight the spiders because we know that their activity can create overinflated numbers for both VDP&#039;s and SRP&#039;s.


5. Because of the consumer-centric orientation of our site, we think there is room for really engaging a consumer on the details page. That&#039;s where many of our new product resources are devoted including our relatively recent video enhancement.


Hopefully this addresses some of the questions in methodology raised in this thread.


Please let me know if you have any additional thoughts.

mp
L
Wow between Ed, Mark and Dale I feel like I just read a novel&hellip;whew!

@Ed I agree that you certainly have to be more aggressive with pricing on high supply low demand cars, the fact is these cars also bought cheaper as well. That said whether VAuto is use to unilaterally dial back pricing on units by a number of its dealer base now, Well I hope not. I have recently run into more than a few occasions where the dealers price has been automatically adjusted by VAuto to the dealers determent. When I was first pitched VAuto&rsquo;s software that was the main feature, in fact my reaction was &ldquo;Why in the hell would I want to do that?&rdquo; I forget what the salesperson said in response to that objection because it made no sense and to be frank when it didn&rsquo;t I tuned him out.


That feature may not be your focus now but it was then and we&rsquo;ll leave that at that.


Is VAuto good for looking at market conditions across multiple vehicles yes very much so and like all software tools used properly it can be a great asset, used improperly can cost a dealer plenty.


@Mark I can&rsquo;t put pictures on comments area of this site so for anyone that wants to see a comparison I have done between ATC, Cars and eBay Motors listings and VDP&rsquo;s click this link to my blog and you can see what I am talking about in a powerpoint presentation and side by side conversion comparisons between the three sites listings and VDP&rsquo;s.

<a href="http://pcmguy.com/2010/12/conversion-analysis-autotrader-cars-com-ebay-motors/" rel="nofollow">http://pcmguy.com/2010/12/conversion-analysis-aut...</a>

After you look at it you will probably wonder how ATC and Cars convert anything, I know I did. Mark you will also see what you are talking about when you say &ldquo;The dealers branding being all over the page&rdquo; after you look at it in this way I wonder if you will still feel the same way.


Mark says &ldquo;In the beginning of the internet age, the idea that you could measure every single customer by a phone call or email lead captured the industry&rsquo;s attention. However, consumers have been trained &ndash; in the auto world and other industries &ndash; that they just won&rsquo;t get the information they want via phone and email.&rdquo;


Really Mark, are you kidding me? Do you really think customers won&rsquo;t call because they somehow think they will get more information by spending their entire Saturday running around talking to dealerships in person to get more information on a car? Seriously Mark you&#039;re way out of touch, I don&#039;t think I have a word that will adequately describe how out of touch you are on that point.


Mark somehow Dealix and Autobytel sell millions of dollars worth of leads each month to dealers where the information is captured online without a phone call or vehicle the customer can check out. Is it possible that ATC just doesn&rsquo;t know how to get the information out of the visitor? I think it is. Don&#039;t try to put this back on the dealer, ATC is touting itself as the internet marketer if you can&rsquo;t get the opportunity for the dealer that your fault not the dealers.


I don&#039;t see where you have cleared up any inaccuracies Mark you have simply confirmed what has been said here. The platform remains as it has with little changes, ATC has made space for banner advertising that they can charge dealers more money for. That&rsquo;s what I take away from your comment but the dealers reading this can come to their own conclusions.


@Dale I hope you are able to pull off with the data what you think you can, only time will tell. I hope you&#039;re right about the direction with ATC again only time will tell. I would love to be eating my words a few years from now, but I don&#039;t think I will be.


Dale I have to disagree with you on the effect of margin compression. In some of the best dealers I work with and in my own personal experience I have seen margins increase. Why? Because these dealerships realize that price is a concern but NOT the driving factor for a customer online. The fact of the matter is that if you merchandise your cars online better than the guy down the street you can get more for your car. If you have a better trained sales force you can get more for your car, that same well trained sales force can trade for the cars at a lower price point and allow you to get more for the trade when you retail it. If you have a good finance department you can sell that car at a lower price point and still make money.


At the end of the day Dale there are a lot more moving parts to internet marketing of a car than the price as its compared to others in my market who may not be as good as my dealership.


I refuse to believe that the store and its personnel play no factor in what you can do in the marketing of a vehicle online.


Dale I appreciate you are data guy, I am big on data myself let me ask you this question about the data regarding VDP&rsquo;s as they relate to sales. Did theses dealerships that had the most VDP&rsquo;s also have the most inventory on Auto Trader? What was the correlation VDP to Sale ratio for the best dealers, in the example you have here it is 100 to 1, the dealerships that had more vehicle sales what was their ratio VDP to sale? What was their salesperson to sale ratio? What data supports that the VDP view had anything to do with the number of sales? I love the data your proposing but the little bit you have shared here just poses more questions than answers as to whether or not VDP views are even a good measurement of the performance of ATC advertising. Based on the analysis I have posted in my blog I can&rsquo;t see how more VDP views help any dealer in any way, but I can sure see how more VDP views helps AutoTrader with ad impressions.


I will reiterate the internet is a direct response medium if you&#039;re not getting the response you want at an appreciable number there is something you are doing or not doing to connect with the customer. It&rsquo;s not just something you dismiss and say that&rsquo;s how dealers have trained customers or how they want it, I can&rsquo;t and won&rsquo;t buy it.
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    Todd Mathews
  • December 9, 2010
Great rebuttal Larry. As you have stated several times &quot;only time will tell&quot; is very true.


PS: as I have stated in a pervious post &quot;my money is on Larry&#039;s observations&quot;
J
  • J
    Jeff
  • December 9, 2010
Larry,


Nice power point. However, next time you feel like doing an educated presentation, make sure you are educated on the topic. You said on the Autotrader VDP &quot;BTW these are not your stores cars&quot;. Look again! These are the dealers vehicles. Not that you had much left but your credibility keeps spiraling downwards. What Zip code, Make, and Model did you perform this search? I would like to verify your other claims.
L
@jeff ha! as I have said many times &quot;You know there is truth in the room when you start seeing people attack others personally and getting upset.&quot;


When I clicked the link these cars were not the dealers but fine you take that away that really was pretty minor.


All these searches were performed on a 2003-04 Honda accord non geo location specific.


Jeff any time you would like to go head to head on conversion opitimization tactics and strategy just bring it.


Before you you make statements about someones credibility perhaps you should be educated on the topic.
D
Mr. Bruce,

With all due respect, you&rsquo;ve also misrepresented facts about vAuto. You state &ldquo;&hellip;dealers price has been automatically adjusted by VAuto to the dealers determent&rdquo;. vAuto has never had the ability to change a dealer&rsquo;s price. It is only an authorized user that can make and save a price change. You further say &ldquo;&hellip;and we&rsquo;ll leave that at that&rdquo;. No, we are in fact not going to leave it at that. It&rsquo;s simply not responsible or professional to make blatantly false statements and then say we&rsquo;re going to leave it at that.

Also, I&rsquo;ve read your bio, and it is clear to me that you have your own agenda to promote as the founder of a company selling Microsite landing pages. I can now see your motivation for bashing AutoTrader. Mr. Bruce, I&rsquo;m sure that the industry community on Dealer Refresh would appreciate it if you would be more careful and respectful of people and facts.
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    Jeff
  • December 9, 2010
Larry,


You actually performed a search 100 miles from Houston, not non geo specific as you had said. I have performed the same search that you performed 5 times and found only Honda Tower ads. Not sure exactly why you were seeing Ford because it&#039;s pretty obvious that Honda had purchased national ad space there and as you said on your Ebay slide, that shouldn&#039;t be a distraction because it&#039;s a used Honda search.
L
@Dale no your right we won&#039;t leave that at that. Dale as I states in earlier comments VAauto software like all software can be very beneficial or it can be ver detrimental of coarse the dealers telling me this approved a group of vehicles to be price adjusted and the settings that doesn&#039;t change the detrimental nature of what could happen if you arent careful with anyones software.


Dale, you and I have met one time for all of 5 minutes, to be honest it is unprofessional of you to pretend you know anything about me or my motivations from a 5 min conversation and a bio read.


If you took to read the earlier comments you will see I have been questioning 3rd parties in-between the dealer and the customer since 99 long before there was an AutoTrader online. So perhaps you should do me the courtesy of a conversation about why I think what I think before you start questioning my motivations as I have done you in these comments.
R
What would really make this discussion interesting is if it were more focused on the dealer and less on vendors throwing shit at each other.


None of what is being currently discussed has anything to do with the original article. &quot;AutoTrader.com Agrees to Purchase Auto Inventory Solutions Leader HomeNet Automotive, How do you feel about it?&quot; So, how do you feel about it? Do you think that AT will use the acquisition to improve on their product? Will they add it in and raise their prices? Will they make it a part of an added value proposition?


Funny how when a couple of vendors start arguing the dealers all leave the room. If I&rsquo;ve learned anything from the last several posts, It&rsquo;s how obvious that the dealer is not your number one priority. Anyway, it rained this morning so I&rsquo;ve got some grass growing to watch.
L
@Jeff I&#039;m not privy to ATC algorithms that serv ads so I don&#039;t know why I am seeing for ads either I have never even searched for a ford on ATC before so I don&#039;t think it would be in the cookies. The fact that it a ford is bad from a relevancy stand point but whats worse is the placement and the frequency

These banners show up in the listing. Jeff if you were a dealer contributing content to a site and paying to contribute that content at the levels ATC is charging would you want that much distraction in your listings?


ATC make claims that only a low amount of visitors will convert online or call yet is distracting a large number of visitors with all these banners. Then want us to believe that visitors won&#039;t convert well I&#039;ll bet any amount of money you want if we split test those pages without banners there will be a large number increase in conversion and that&#039;s just the lowest hanging fruit in conversion optimization for these pages there is a lot more that could be done.


Any geo location isn&#039;t going to remove the banners, that&#039;s just nit picking at things, please.
J
A Dealer to Vendor warning.


Larry, you&#039;re a vendor and you&#039;re way out of line. These are YOUR WORDS LARRY:



-&rdquo;Get out of ATC before you lose more money&quot;

-&rdquo;The ATC Alpha program is a joke&quot;

-&rdquo;Drop ATC you are better off taking that money to eBay motors&quot;

-&rdquo;Dealers need to limit their exposure with ATC&quot;

-&rdquo;ATC will bring nothing more than higher pricing &amp; little value&quot;

-&rdquo;Your ATC bill go through the roof and service through the floor&quot;

-&rdquo;What was the last thing ATC built that was innovative?&quot;

-&rdquo;ATC is no more than cheap magazine tricks they brought online&quot;

-&rdquo;Get rid of your alpha program and Autotrader entirely&quot;

-&rdquo;ATC does not have the footprint they want you to belive&quot;

-&rdquo;ATC isn&rsquo;t a technology company, isn&rsquo;t a web marketing company &quot;

-&rdquo;ATC at its root a magazine&quot;

-&rdquo;The fact is ATC is not about a better product or more help&quot;

-&rdquo;Move some of your budget to eBay&quot;

-&rdquo;ATC actions say to me they are not trying at all&quot;

-&rdquo;ATC has no strategy&quot;

-&rdquo;ATC has no idea what these companies... except raise rates&#039;

-&rdquo;you are wasting your time if you use VDP as a measurement&quot;

-&rdquo;Cars and ATC both offer the dealer little...&quot;

-&rdquo;I&rsquo;m not privy to ATC algorithms&quot;

-&rdquo;I could be wrong but not likely...&quot;


Then you follow with:


-&quot;Dale, it is unprofessional of you to pretend you know anything about me or my motivations.&quot;

-&quot;Gretchen, posting with such an obvious company line is almost insulting in some ways.&quot;



Larry, Your behavior here is clearly irresponsible.


YOU ARE A VENDOR, NOT A DEALER, NOT A DEALER ADVOCATE.


YOU ARE HERE TO PROMOTE YOURSELF &amp; YOUR BUSINESS. Your words about your business again:


-&quot;My new business absolutely could be an alternative to ATC...&quot;

-&quot;I believe a dealership spend with my company would produce more than a spend with ATC&quot;

-&quot;The name of the game here &ldquo;DERVISIFY&rdquo;&quot;



Larry, Now I remember why I walked out of your DD9 presentation. Your opinion of yourself knows no bounds and gets in the way of what little knowledge you have.
L
@Joe I am glad you chose to walk out of my session at #DD9 you&#039;ve demonestrated exactly what Digital Dealer is all about. If you don&#039;t agree or like what you here you are free to leave and go to another session that why there are so many, so thank you for acting on your convictions.


Joe you have heard a small part of me speak and you have seen me post some comments so I&#039;m sorry you don&#039;t get to tell me what I am, that is your opinion and you&#039;re welcome to it as is anyone else.


My behavior here is exactly what I think and my opinion, I didn&rsquo;t realize Joe you were the opinion police here and that no one was allowed to have one, or is it just vendors you think aren&rsquo;t allowed to have opinion, or is it just me you think isn&rsquo;t allowed to have an opinion? I gotta be honest with you I&rsquo;m confused because there have been a lot of opinions expressed here by dealers and vendors but I seem to the only one you think you need to warn, and BTW who elected you as the guy to warn people?


Joe I wouldn&rsquo;t believe very much in my own product if I didn&rsquo;t think it was a good value for a dealer so if you ask me as you did your comment, I&rsquo;m not going to lie I will tell you yes I think I have a better value proposition than most of what ATC sells now. With that said it&#039;s not my opinion that matters that is a decision dealers have to make, they are the only ones who can assign value. I think we know where you value is and that is ok.


Lastly I am a dealer, always have been a dealer and always will be a dealer. So don&#039;t you pretend to able to tell me what I am. I would never do that to you, that is unprofessional, giving your opinion has never been unprofessional, its what blogs are for and you are welcome to walk out of this one too.


This will be my last comment on this post clearly we have far over stepped the usefulness to the community.
Larry, I&#039;m starting to feel bad for you my friend. The perception you give off is not one of great aptitude.


Now that Larry is gone, maybe we can get back on course.


What do you think of this purchase??
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    Jeff Collins
  • December 10, 2010
So, what does the future hold for ATC and it&#039;s recent acquisitions. Nobody really knows and any assessment would have to be deemed speculation. I think we have had enough conjecture from multiple parties. Let&#039;s get back to best practices in our space and other topics that we can actually affect change. Merry Christmas to all!!!
J
I can&#039;t help myself! I love the tactical side of business &amp; marketing. This is the biggest automotive business news since Jerry Thibeau paid for my lunch ;-)


Here is my latest spin:


If AT Top Management gets all properties to share its resources &amp; align its goals, you have everything needed to completely renovate the AT shopping experience as we know it.



--Better AT VDPs from Homenet and KBB

--Better Marketing Data and Ideas from vAuto


Its more than possible for AutoTrader to re-invent itself with these elements.
J
HomeNet(HN) Opens its Window.

The content and information on AT VDP&#039;s are all over the map (inconsistent) and limited to text only. AT may want to &quot;enrich&quot; it&#039;s VDPs but they are forced to make it work for everyone, so, AT currently offers a VDP reduced to the least common denominator. Owning HN gives AT the ability to choreograph a far superior VDP (and leave the text only VDP for everyone else). The HN &amp; AT bond will further solidify HN&#039;s

&quot;mission critical&quot; position to all the players in our space.


vAuto Opens its Window

Dale P. tells us of a treasure trove of data that he has seen that is so compelling he took the short deal. Dale has earned his rock-star status by his character, so he gets a free pass on details. When it comes to AT, I believe Dale and his team will uncover many undiscovered jewels that will find its way back to AT.


KBB opens its window

From my seat, This is the weak link to help AT&#039;s site. Although KBB is important while shopping, IMO, KBB is not an anchor brand that shoppers NEED and demand. Everyday, our men in the trenches easily &quot;de-certify&quot; KBB&#039;s prices all because no-one knows what a KBB price is. Bottomline: it&#039;s easy to blow KBB off.


KBB must have traffic, ad revenue, SEO leverage and brand good will to make it stand alone. AutoTrader has a lot of TV advertising, now it can enhance it&#039;s retail message with the KBB brand.
J
Kelly Blue Book can forever change the Marketplace.

How? It won&#039;t be long before someone creates a certified used vehicle condition report. Wholesale Auction houses are wrestling with this right now.

I&#039;m on the record (before the merger) that &quot;certified used vehicle condition reports&quot; are a perfect fit for KBB&#039;s brand. If (and when) that happens, everything you know about our used car market is gone.

Search Criteria
Choose:
Year: 2009
Make: Chevrolet
Model: Avalanche
Trim: LTZ 4x4
Price: &lt;33,000
Miles: &lt;15000
Color(s):
-then-
Choose: Exterior Grade = &gt;90
Choose: Interior Grade = &gt;80
Choose: Tire Grade =&gt; pass

Choose Sales Service Level: SelfServe or Concierge
(selfserve= NO sales rep, deduct 20% sales reps commission)

Insert Credit Card Here:---&gt;________

AutoTrader and Manheim are jointly owned by Cox Enterprises. Thats an Uncle Joe Crystal Ball Guess... kinda spooky isn&#039;t it?
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  • D
    Derek
  • December 20, 2010
Its called monopoly - like microsoft. They are trying to stop any other websites like AutoLibrium.com because they are better looking and cheap compared to them.


A monopoly will only have the system come after you. In the end, they will have to comply and get pwned. They are trying to stick people with their high prices to post Ads.
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    Eric Miltsch
  • December 20, 2010
A monopoly? really?


Last time I checked there were plenty of other options out there...
J
Derek,

There isn&#039;t enough Jack Daniels made to make me think that AutoLibrium.com is better looking than... anything.

If your really looking for style, may I suggest a site makeover in a motif that fits your business plan? --&gt; <a href="http://bit.ly/i71IHw" rel="nofollow">http://bit.ly/i71IHw</a>
R
I want one!!!! LOL Where do I send my feed?
J
Derek,

Why do you do this to yourself? Look at how poorly autolibrium.com ranks
<a href="http://websitegrader.com/site/www.autolibrium.com" rel="nofollow">http://websitegrader.com/site/www.autolibrium.com</a>

Look to the bottom of the report. 3 NY Car dealer sites totally out rank you, making your claims of offering a value to car dealers completely... puzzling.

If fact, if you&#039;d like to buy some ad space to build up your traffic, please contact ANY car dealer. They have more traffic than you do.
<a href="http://siteanalytics.compete.com/auctiondirectusa.com+usedcarking.com+westherr.com/?metric=uv&amp;months=12" rel="nofollow">http://siteanalytics.compete.com/auctiondirectusa...</a>
S
  • S
    Spinning Clipart?
  • December 21, 2010
@ Rob,


Are you asking for the mailing address? You do realize you need to send your inventory by USPS on a 3.5 inch floppy, right?
R
Great, now you tell me, the receptionist just finished the excel spreadsheet.
D
  • D
    Derek
  • December 21, 2010
lmao, always one of you haters somewhere oh well. Usaully when there are people tend to follow like sheep after it becomes successful. I understand most of you like facebook user follow not create or creative. Starting to understand how you humans work, Interesting -Repetition-. Humans rather stay with the same and get ripped off instead of creating and going to places that will treat you right. AutoLibrium folks over there trying to make it so that dealerships get help not robbed oh well. I guess some dealerships just like going out of business because places like cox greed and outsourcing staff. Hmm? Americans are strange and wonder why they are in a bad economy = self not their government (and people like this guy = haters of unique change). LMAO WOW Ill go play some World of Warcraft yep played before every noob jerk wanted to claim they are nerds and computer smart -SHEEP- bah bah :)
E
Best. DealerRefresh. Reply.


&quot;Humans&quot; lol.
D
  • D
    Derek
  • December 21, 2010
This dude even went as far as to try to damage the site. that&#039;s not what it looks like. And please keep hating on their site you just bring more attention to it, thanks. I hope they succeed because they have a great plan to help and not asking for large amounts of money there. They are trying to help dealerships bigtime. Maybe one of the only companies left that is honest and not greedy. You&#039;re stupid dude please keep hating - haters don&#039;t get it they help others succeed you haven&#039;t figured that out yet? This is the reason I came here, lmao. Now, I know how Hitler got you morons to follow very easy to PWN the mind of the weak = ROB. Ok, later people it was fun playing with you and your hatred because you can&#039;t design or code yourself out of a paper bag, ROFL!!!! Roll On The Floor Laughing. BTW, I&#039;d love to see your web work you got a link to a site that is yours or are you going to go to someone elses site and claim it too. LMAO!!!! Rob the Last Of The Moron Tribe - Me To Short Poopy Pants.
R
Wow! Really?
D
  • D
    Derek
  • December 21, 2010
And about the ranking if you are a SEO master you understand to check the age report. You guy suppose to be smart. It takes time to market and advertise, lmao. The ranking is actually awesome there for the time it&#039;s been up. Just had to reply to that comment it&#039;s pretty funny. Those NY sites been up forever. LMAO, noobs. AutoLibrium was ranked at 200,000 before AutoTrader attacked them witht hename they had before. See, what Im saying love the lack of peoples understanding of the net. Please, educate yourself before you start pushing stats.
S
  • S
    Serry
  • January 15, 2011
There is no difference I have worked for both companies. A Vehicle Detail Page is that the initial click from the Search Results Page. So if you are on either ATC or Cars you look for a honda accord both sites return a &quot;search results page (srp)&quot; on that page you will see multiple listings for honda accords by multiple dealers or private sellers, when a specific honda accord captures your attention you click on that honda accord that click translates to a &quot;vehicle detail page (vdp)&quot; both companies count it once and only once. Both companies count the maps viewed, transfered to website, viewed entire inventory and dealership info separate. If you dont believe me if you are a dealer go to <a href="http://www.dealers.car.com" rel="nofollow">www.dealers.car.com</a> and your main page will show each one of these and their counts also go to <a href="http://www.dealers.autotrader.com" rel="nofollow">www.dealers.autotrader.com</a> and go to reporting tab you will find each one of these also counted out separately.
S
  • S
    Serry
  • January 15, 2011
Now why you see a difference in numbers higher for Cars.com when it comes to SRP&#039;s and VDP&#039;s is Cars.com uses most of its space to acutally advertise cars for the dealers that are paying them to do that 50 listings on search results page. Now ATC has half the listings because they want to make more money off of private sellers which will come before the premium and featured paying dealers then there are the liner ads for viagra or target then the Alpha liner ad so you actually only have about 25 or so true classified ads. ATC has done a great job selling all ad space as much as they can. Its the newspaper online.
S
  • S
    Serry
  • January 15, 2011
So now you know the difference dealers! In my opinion you shouldnt be paying for no more than a featured plus product period if you advertise with ATC. even if you are premium look at your ROI private sellers and liner ads get more attention than your 4k-5k premium package advertising. SRP&#039;s and VDP&#039;s are counted exactly the same at both companies ATC just wont tell you that theirs are lower because they have less classified ads on the SRP!! Check it out your self count actual classified ads on Cars.com and ATC see what you come up with? Cars.com list 50 classified ads ATC list 25 classified ads pushing your inventory further and further in pages! Horrible consumer experience if you have to go 3 or more pages deep typically consumers just give up and that is why you dont see ROI on premium packages. Ask your ATC rep about why only 25 classified listings on Search Results Page? Arent you paying to have your inventory come up first if your a premium dealer? Personaly if you look at both sites Cars.com is built with consumer experience and dealership success alike. level playing field no premium or alpha etc, etc! I stand corrected 4 liner ads i just counted it all for sale where is your inventory Mr./Mrs Dealer ask your ATC rep!!!!
S
  • S
    Serry
  • January 15, 2011
If that is what your ATC rep said he is wrong we count it exaclty the same there is only one way to count it. the only reason you see Cars.com numbers higher in SRP and VDP is because we offer double the classified listings than ATC. Go to both sites. Cars.com SrP will return 50 classified listings. Go to ATC the SRP will return 25 listings why? they are selling the ad space you pay for twice. they tell you get premium so your inventory can be first and on top why are they selling your ad space to assurance cell or viagra all these different companies buy liner ads from ATC look for your self then there are the Alpha liner ads then the OEM mean while your inventory is another 25 listing on the next page and the next arent you paying premium to come up first. Ask your ATC rep where and how Cars.com is doing anything different other than listing double the classified ads for you the dealership and your inventory and the consumer what consumer wants to go 3 to 4 pages deep? I dont!
M
  • M
    MIchael
  • January 15, 2011
Nope we count the same as ATC. we just do what dealers pay us to do our Search results page yields a consumer 50 actual car ads where ATC makes you pay double and you only get 25 actual car ads. Why? Take a look at both sites. No liner ads on Cars.com for cell phones or antibiotics, target stuff that has nothing to do with car shopping! as a matter of fact ATC has 4 liner ads per page I just saw a national clearing house ad! Wouldnt you rather them do what you pay them for list your cars on that space? Cars.com is double SRP&#039;s and VDP&#039;s because we are double listing per page. more of your inventory on our site in one page!
L
  • L
    Lightnup
  • January 15, 2011
Michael - I guess if ATC removed the prominent and valuable dealer branding (bold dealer name, dealer logo, marketing tagline(s)) from their SRP listings and eliminated the ability for dealers to grab the shopper&#039;s attention with pertinent comments in the SRP about a car&#039;s unique history/condition, they could squeeze in 50 cars per page too. By your logic, why doesn&#039;t cars.com just increase to 250 cars per page and claim 10 times the SRPs?
A
  • A
    Advisor
  • February 13, 2011
I am a former HomeNet employee, and my suggestion to all Dealer Principals is to make sure you are very clear and precise as to your NDA terms, and accesses to your inventory data. I have never seen any unlawful use of information personally there. I am bound by many NDA requirements myself, any will not speak specifically about anything here. I only caution, that there is a wealth of information in any dealers DMS system, and that it is controlled by the access granted. I would advise that specific reports be created for polling, and that no &quot;standard&quot; polling scripts be permitted. I would advise that, while Autotrader claims that they will run HomeNet as a separate entity, they are still the parent company, and thus privy to all data that passes through HomeNet.
That is a very valid point. Example: if you are working with ZAG, there is a very good chance they are pulling your transactional data to determine a sale. What's then happening with your transactional data?

From my conclusions, there's a very chance it's being fed to TrueCar and being used against dealers for the consumer to then see in the TrueCar pricing charts.

Most dealers are totally clueless to this and allow just about anyone to grab data from their DMS without have any true knowledge of exactly what data is being pulled from their DMS.

J