PR Announcements

Black Book Online Launches Activator Complete – The Super Lead

Auto Dealers Report Increased Lead Quality and Quantity from Pilot

BOCA RATON, FL., April 14, 2011Black Book Online today announced the launch of its Activator Complete product, further empowering car buyers while simultaneously inventing the “Super Lead” for dealers.

Black Book Online logoIn addition to providing accurate trade-in values, Activator Complete now includes Credit Activator™, which gives consumers an estimated credit score range without asking them to divulge sensitive information such as their social security number or date of birth. Customers that fully engage with the tool provide their contact information for direct interaction with their local dealer.

“For years, customers have been getting information online from less credible sources,” said industry expert David Kain of Kain Automotive. “Finally, they can now turn to a company that understands the dealer automotive retail environment for real insight on their credit situation.”

The time is right for a product like this said Kain.

“This extension of our brand is fully aligned with our goal of helping dealers and OEM’s convert anonymous website traffic into actionable prospects with high conversion rates,” said Tom Cross, president of the Black Book Automotive Group, “As one would expect, we have rigorously tested our credit scoring models and are confident that the accuracy of the ranges generated are worthy of the Black Book name.”

Black Book products are published by National Auto Research, a division of Hearst Business Media. New and used car dealers, lenders, manufacturers, fleet remarketers, and government agencies have relied on Black Book for timely, independent and accurate information and leads since 1955.

According to a recent study conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Black Book Online, nine out of 10 (91 percent) car buyers say that the information provided by car dealerships should be both more complete and more accurate, and 75 percent of financing car buyers think it is important to know their credit score when buying a car. Findings from the study also showed that most car buyers say it is important to know one’s credit score before buying a car. However, about 12 million U.S. adults who plan to buy a car in the next year say an unexpected credit score has stopped them from completing a car purchase. The survey was conducted online among a national sample of 1,063 adults 18 and over who indicate that they are at least somewhat likely to buy a car in the next 12 months.

“The study also informed us that 75 percent of consumers think credit scores are important when buying a car, but only 21 percent are willing to give their social security number on a car dealership website,” said Mike McFall, president of Black Book Online. “The addition of Activator Complete not only helps car shoppers become more empowered buyers by providing them with an estimate of their credit score, but also provides dealers with actionable information to help turn those shoppers into buyers.”

Unlike the traditional online application process where customers supply name, social security number and date of birth to get a credit score, the Activator Complete™ process simply estimates a credit score based on the customer’s answers to 12 personal finance questions. The dealer receives a lead and can contact the customer to arrange a store visit.  Before a financing offer is extended to a customer the dealer conducts a credit review process which includes an independent credit check.

Activator Complete signifies the invention of the “Super Lead” for dealers, collecting information critical to the sales process including make and model of the vehicle the consumer is interested in, their trade-in value and an estimate of a consumer’s credit score. In collecting this information, Black Book Online provides dealers with the highest quality leads, generated directly from a dealer’s own website. And according to an internal study, 40 percent of dealers say these are the best, most actionable leads., LLC conducted separate research with dealers and F&I professionals regarding this kind of product and found three consistent themes.

  • Maintaining privacy for prospects and consumers is key
  • The process should be simple and transparent
  • Dealers want to provide their customers with a snapshot of their financial position, but don’t want to force them to disclose sensitive information

Activator Complete generates stronger leads by engaging customer activity on a dealer’s website and offering valuable insight in real time to those that interact online. The result? Dealers have better chances that their active online shoppers will turn into motivated and informed customers instead of just passers-by.

“With car buyers doing their research prior to visiting our dealership, they come in more informed and ready to buy,” said Butch Watson of Chuck Fairbanks Chevrolet, a dealer from the Credit Activator pilot program. “It is a definite value-add to our business.”

Mike Maher of Weber Chevrolet in Missouri is seeing more than a lead a day using Credit Activator.  “Dealership sales managers need to make the best use of their time and resources, which is why we often rely on leads. But, they have to be the right leads,” Maher said. “By using this new product, we have received 65 leads and sold 6 cars to date. It helps us by directing us to the right car buyers. This is a great product for your internet department’s tool box.”

For more information and a demonstration on how the Credit Activator product works, please visit

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit

About Black Book

Black Book® Online (, based in Boca Raton, Fla., pioneered the online vehicle trade-in valuation industry, creating the most effective sales leads in North America. With the launch of Activator Complete™ in April 2011, Black Book Online now provides automotive shoppers with an instant and accurate credit score estimate along with a trade-in value range. Combined, these tools offer the highest quality sales lead available and represent the “Super Lead” for dealers and OEMs.

Best known in the automotive industry for providing real-time, independent, and most accurate vehicle pricing data, the Black Book® family of vehicle appraisal guides ( is published by National Auto Research, a division of Hearst Business Media.  New and used car dealers, lenders, manufacturers, fleet remarketers, and government agencies have relied on mission critical Black Book values in the performance of their daily operations since 1955.

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Has anyone seen/heard of this having a negative effect on the # of credit apps submitted? I'm also curious if the people using this tool slants more to the good credit shopper vs. the bad credit shopper.

  • M
    Mike Mcfall
  • April 28, 2011
In the pilot program with 18 dealers, we found that 81% of the estimated scores are above 630. This score distribution is different from what we typically see from a credit applicaiton. A few dealers reported an increase in their credit applications as well, none reported a decline.