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Independent Sites Play Significant Role in Driving Walk-In Traffic to Dealerships,, Synovate Study Finds

One-third of dealership visitors who used an independent website did not call or send an email before they came to the store, an innovative study by and Synovate, a global market research firm, found.

The study explored the connection between online research activity and offline shopping behavior to understand how consumers use the internet for automotive buying decisions. It also identified the specific websites and website features that most encourage walk-in traffic. CHICAGO – Nov. 17, 2008 –

“Tracking email and phone leads alone gives dealers an incomplete picture of how their internet initiatives perform. Now, for the first time, they can calculate the full return on their advertising investment and quantify the traffic and sales their online programs generate,” said Dennis Galbraith, vice president of advertising products and training. “More than any other source, the web connects dealers with in-market shoppers and encourages them to take direct action. Among dealership visitors who used, half planned to purchase or lease a vehicle the same day they went to the store.”

This summer and fall, and Synovate conducted in-dealership interviews with approximately 700 consumers at 16 stores in 11 East Coast, Midwest and Southern states. Each of the dealerships included in the analysis advertised its listings on and

According to the study, one-third of car buyers cited independent websites as a significant influencer affecting their decision to visit a dealership. More than half of shoppers surveyed used an independent website to view vehicle listings; of those, 82 percent visited and its online partners. Independent websites were cited twice as often as search engine results and three times more than a dealership website. Competitive pricing, multiple pictures, sell copy and free vehicle history reports were among the online features that most influenced car buyers’ choice of dealership.

“As car buyers near the point of purchase, they’re looking to validate the vehicle and the dealer they’re considering,” Galbraith said. “Independent websites can provide the objective reviews and comprehensive tools shoppers rely on to make an informed decision. Dealers who leverage these sites as part of their online strategy and fully merchandise their listings on them position themselves to drive increased traffic and sales among truly ready-to-buy shoppers.”

About Synovate
Synovate, the market research arm of Aegis Group plc, generates consumer insights that drive competitive marketing solutions. The network provides clients with cohesive global support and a comprehensive suite of research solutions. Synovate employs over 6,000 staff in 62 countries. More information on Synovate can be found at

About is the leading destination for online car shoppers, offering credible, easy-to-understand information from consumers and experts to help buyers formulate opinions on what to buy, where to buy and how much to pay for a car. With comprehensive pricing information, side-by-side comparison tools, photo galleries, videos, unbiased editorial content and a large selection of new- and used-car inventory, puts millions of car buyers in control of their shopping process with the information they need to make confident buying decisions.

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  • S
  • November 17, 2008
This is really what I would love for the online dealers out there to understand. and are really considered research and not advertising by shoppers. Go to any website. Like If I find what I am looking for, is that research? Or Advertising? Best way to claim walk up traffic is to put a coupon on the car and ask to be printed. Don't do cash right now because everyone knows you can get a great deal. Some of my dealers are using an I-Pod touch or navigation plus $250 off advertised price ($500 total value). Also, F & I is really a great place to source your traffic. They also use a source sheet that uses logos only, not words. It has really been helpful considereing a lot of dealers are trying to figure out what is working. Cash car buyers typically won't spend $250 on a I-Pod touch especially right now. It will come up in conversation in your showroom. It does work as long as your cars are market competitive (not cheap). Gas cards don't work right now since it's so low per gallon. Hope this helps!
  • B
  • November 19, 2008
"More than half of shoppers surveyed used an independent website to view vehicle listings; of those, 82 percent visited and its online partners."

Just curious, were the surveyors wearing name badges? ;)

I keed, I keed!!!!
the number in the Auto News Auto Trader webinar yesterday was closer to 70%.... What gives? 
  • G
  • June 30, 2011
This article is 3 years old that's why.