Opinions & Advice

Drop the Hammer on 3rd Party Listings

Imagine you walk into your neighborhood hardware store – let’s call it Joe’s Hardware and Lumber. Joe’s has been around for decades – family owned, involved in local charity, and a brand that has a strong local reputation.  You’ve got a remodel project going on and you’re in need of a new hammer. In the hammer section, you see giant banners that say “these hammers brought to you by Home Depot”, on the hammers themselves, it says “powered by Home Depot”, on the end cap of the aisle there’s a sign that says “come see these same hammers and even more hammers at Home Depot”

In a haze of brand confusion, you end up at Home Depot shopping for hammers.

Here’s the thing: Home Depot (in this alternate reality) doesn’t actually sell hammers, they just host them for display. The upside though, is they have a LOT of options…so you pick out the best hammer you could find, and a lovely employee connects you right back to the hardware store you stumbled out of before. For a hefty price to Joe’s Hardware, of course.

In this ridiculous scenario (in which I say the word “hammers” a LOT), I have just described what 3rd party listing sites have been “helping” dealers with for 15 years. Stealing dealers traffic and selling them back to them at a profit. It’s a brilliant business model that you just don’t see anywhere else in the modern retail landscape.

Let’s drop in on a similar scenario in an online consumer format. Would you ever see such a thing on Home Depot’s website?

Can you imagine Home Depot actively promoting Lowe’s as a Trusted Source for the same hammers?!

For years, third-party sites have been touted as “must” for dealers but recently, we wanted to get in consumers heads about the most relevant sites to spend time when shopping for a car. Below is what we found:

Dealers: Your own dealership website, Your Brand is the most important asset by an order of magnitude than any other third party site. This is insightful because there are several companies in this survey that heavily trade on their brand name, their trustworthiness, and identity with consumers at large. The great irony is these brands were essentially built on dealers backs.

I repeat: These companies are charging you to build their brand, stealing your traffic and selling it back to you.

Some third party sites have done a better job than others at staying relevant in today’s market, and some, clearly, have lost relevance.

So dealers, ask yourself if you stopped supporting these lower rung 3rd party portals if you stopped allowing them to charge you for building their brand, would they survive? If you invested in your brand, converting traffic on your own site, what would be the outcome? Based on the consumer insight survey above, you’d see a 30% greater response from consumers. Interesting thought, isn’t it?

Case in point: when a consumer is allowed to easily value their trade on your dealership website with SNAP, we see an average form conversion rate of around 26%. Brand heavy, 3rd party tools typically see somewhere around 5% completion. Proof that brand recognition doesn’t ensure consumer activity.

Dealers: Stop being fooled and start reinvesting in the brand that matters: Yours.

Joe was first introduced to automotive 10 years ago, and quickly found a place to marry work ethic with a digitally underdeveloped industry. Building ...
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    Tony Nicosia
  • March 7, 2019
This is ridiculous. You are comparing 3rd party vendors to a website trade widget. It's 2 completely separate things...and this article is basically self-promoting your company. Seems pretty biased to me.
  • N
  • March 7, 2019
This is a flawed perspective. In reality I would be looking for a hammer. I'd start at Hammers.com and narrow my search by new, used, color, options and price. Joe's hardqates problem is he never put his hammers online, no photos, no price and if I called for information I was told to ask for a sales person. 75% of the time the hammer I called about was not at the store! 3rd parties came about because dealers would not give consumers what they craved....information! I can go to Hammers.com and see 100's of hammers in my PJs or while I'm at work where Joe's hardware wanted me to drive there to look at hammers I didn't want.
I have no idea what any of this has to do with Tradepending.
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    Tim R.
  • March 9, 2019
The question was when shopping for a car I would visit the following websites - that is plural. Who said it was exclusive? I would hope that 3rd party’s send traffic to a dealer’s website.......duh.
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    J rubin
  • March 14, 2019
This is called amazon same as third party sites. Not a good article.