Industry News & Trends

The Weekly Refresh: Cars.com, Web2Carz.com, AOL and VAST.com, Baby boomers, Dealers ARE tech-savvy

  • Cars.com partnership goes live with Yahoo, while AutoTrader partners with kbb.com. I think Cars.com got the better deal here! What do you think?
  • Web2Carz wants your dealer’s inventory on their website and it’s FREE! Plus you get your inventory will be send to their data distribution partners such as Google and Oodle. Contact Alex Bravy for more information at 1-847-780-4821.
  • AOL teams up with VAST.com to power AOL Autos used car marketplace. I spoke with Kevin Laws, CEO of Vast and Doug Eddy of AOL, they seem to have an interesting product in their hands. I’ll be keeping an eye on this.
  • According to a Deloitte & Touche study:

    “The Web surfing habits of boomers and over-60s are more firmly rooted in traditional media than those of their younger counterparts”

    “67% of boomers visited sites after seeing ads on TV or in print. Matures, those between 61 and 75, were just as likely to be driven to the Web by print ads and less likely by TV ads.”

  • Online Wheels and Deals …Today’s Auto Retailers are a Tech-Savvy Bunch, according to a Recent Study.

    JupiterResearch and NADAguides.com surveyed 106 car dealerships nationwide.

    “28 percent of the respondents indicated they spent more than $50,000 in 2006 on online advertising and marketing”

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    Lightnup
  • December 17, 2007
Yahoo! is definitely the number one site for traffic but how many of those people are actually shopping for cars?

kbb.com alone gets more unique visitors each month than cars.com does (source: compete.com) and, most importantly, they go to kbb.com for car shopping info, not games, sports, news or movies.

AutoTrader.com definitely got the bettter deal.

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    McCoy
  • December 17, 2007
According to Alexa.com only 5% of KBB.com's visitors go to their Used Cars section. Having 10 million unique visitors a month, that's about 500,000 used car shoppers. On the other hand, of the 130 million unique vistors monthly to Yahoo.com, over 6 million unique vistors go to Yahoo Autos monthly and Cars.com powers all the New and Used cars. That is 5.5 million monthly reasons why this is a better deal for Cars.com and its participating dealers.
D
In the coke and Pepsi battle that is Cars.com and Autotrader.com, we have to keep our eye on the 8-ball and remember that advertising with these sites is all about volume, delivering the eye balls to your web site, your listings, to become your leads. Yahoo Autos is 7x as big as the kbb.com used section.

Also, on the Cars.com media buy, don't forget the Super Bowl. http://www.carsgameface.com

The NBA is fun for them, just like ESPN college football is for us- but the Super Bowl is what will differentiate Cars.com from Autotrader.com. And I have seen our Super Bowl commercials...they are funny as all h%ll !!

-Dave
312-601-5614 with ?'s.

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  • M
  • December 17, 2007
If everyone made business decisions according to Alexa.com stats, there would be a lot more bankruptcy filings.

There are plenty of pros and cons to list between the two partnerships... but it's certain that both sites have as many eyeballs as they need to make it work, so I'd say it will come down to which site is the most dedicated to the arrangement.

But as a personal testimonial, as involved as I am in automotive Internet ops, I'd never think to use KBB to shop for my next car.
A
Lightnup -

Notice how the Cars.com guys actually use their real names? For some reason, they don't have anything to hide!
A
Jeff,
Thanks for helping us get the word out about the free used car listings on Web2Carz.com for dealers.
I would like to add that not only is placing the inventory on the site is free the leads are free as well.

Alex Bravy
for ? please email me: [email protected]

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    Internet Ferret
  • December 17, 2007
I'm going to use the "wait & see" approach to this classified swap. Cars.com didn't make this decision to leave KBB for Yahoo but it’s nice to see that Dave toes the company line. By the way Dave you need to check your facts before your next sales call. According to Nielsen KBB has 55% UC traffic...did you really believe that only 5% of KBB's traffic was people looking up their "Blue Book value" of their trade-in? If your stat is indeed true, the obvious question would be why did Cars remain partnered with KBB for so long?

I believe this is a tit for tat situation. Both companies are scrambling for an increase in visitors because their numbers are stagnating and Google is quietly looming. IMO Autotrader has a better site and has a larger share of the AIU audience. I agree with the posts on this site stating they've pissed off a lot of dealers with their greedy and arrogant approach. As for Cars.com, I think they’re a dealer friendly site with a tangible response rate in the markets where they have newspaper affiliation (Classified Ventures) and I can back this up with reporting from both types of markets). I hope their Super Bowl commercial does indeed increase their traffic but let’s be honest.…Do you remember any of the commercials from last year’s game? ………. Me neither!

As stated previously, I’ve got a “wait & see” attitude on this subject. However, as a customer of KBB and Autotrader I’m excited, I will actually have an exclusive callout on the KBB classified section.

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    Jeff Larsen
  • December 18, 2007
Who got the better deal? Post the article again in 6 months and review the results.

Who is the real winner? All of us that use online advertising to deliver more customers to the dealership's doorsteps.

Competition draws more people to the action. Our consumers like alternatives, just as we do when choosing a Coke or Pepsi.
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What has made Cars.com powerful over the years is their connection to the newspapers. Where I have had success with Cars.com is in the synergy between the old school classified and the online listing.
E
Ok, um, Alex, I hope your comment on the NADAguides and Jupiter Research report was meant to be a joke. We're supposed to be laughing, right? Did anyone run those numbers - the "in depth study" (as the NADAguides press release calls it) was of 106 retailers. ONE HUNDRED AND SIX! That's it! That is less than 1% of the dealer population! LESS THAN 1%! I am waiting for the correction to be posted on NADAguides that says "Psych - it was really 1006". At least that is 5%. The funny part is they say "28% of respondents spend more than $50,000 on online advertising" - woopy doo, that's 28 dealerships. I am not necessarily commenting on their findings - I just think their sample size is hilarious.

Now, I realize that in medical studies it is always a ridiculously low percentage sampling because there are a bozillion people on earth (yes, I like to make up words - it's fun), but there are only 22k dealers and they are listed, so you can get their phone numbers and call em up and do a survey! It's not that hard - I used to be on the vendor side. Cold calling was my j-o-b. So, NADAguides (who made a not-so subtle reference to their own lead service), next time you're up for doing a survey, give me a holler. I'll call up 94 more dealerships for ya, so you can have an even 1%! ;)
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    HP
  • December 19, 2007
Another episode of musical chairs...but in the end, is there a substantial benefit to the end consumer shopping for a vehicle?
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    Lightnup
  • December 19, 2007
"Lightnup -

Notice how the Cars.com guys actually use their real names? For some reason, they don't have anything to hide!

Posted by: Alex Snyder"


Nope, didn't notice that.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • December 19, 2007
In the 8 years of working with dealers and the internet, I have only maybe 3 times come across a customer that said they gathered their new and used car information on KBB.com. KBB is known for their trade-in values and I would venture to say that 95% of consumers that are on KBB.com are getting values for their car to trade and NOT there to search inventory or gather new car or used car information.

What would happen if KBB would remove all of the traffic from dealers? I'm sure they are not doing this when they look at the traffic number.

I'll tell you somethings else that I found was a waste of money..the Kelley Blue Book's regional advertising program with banner ads that show up when someone in your area appraises the like make. Thank got we were not paying much for it! The CTR was pitiful and the conversion even worse.

Jeff



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    Lao Shi
  • December 20, 2007

kBB is a great company and has a great reputation however they have not been real successful in the transition to the technology solution. This is strange as they have the ingredients however the recipe has not clicked with the consumers.

It may be possible the marriage between these two may produce a vibrent, productive off spring. If it does not, I think it maybe another nail in the Autotrader coffin and with all the issues and set backs they have suffered the past few years, the increase in costs and overhead which they can not or will not control and the changing technology, they can not afford many more nails.

I still believe the only thing Autotrader can do to survive is to move operations off shore, maybe the Philippines or India.

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    Lightnup
  • January 26, 2008

HP wrote: "Another episode of musical chairs...but in the end, is there a substantial benefit to the end consumer shopping for a vehicle?"

Well, if you go to the Yahoo! Autos Suggestion Board and read what Yahoo! Autos consumers think of the switch, you'll get a good understanding of whether there is a substantial benefit to the end consumer shopping for a vehicle. Apparently, there is not.






A
How many people use Yahoo autos each month?

In the past two months 54 people have felt the need to comment on the autos suggestion board. Here's a link: http://suggestions.yahoo.com/detail/?prop=autos&fid=64798

C'mon Lightnup/AutoTrader.com - quit making excuses and silly arguments and get to being productive. FIND A WAY TO MAKE YOUR PRODUCT WORTH THE MONEY!!!
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    Lightnup
  • January 26, 2008
54 people have felt the need to complain...wonder how many have said nothing but have just gone away unhappy because they no longer get the choices and selection that they used to.

HP's comment that I was responding to was whether the end consumer was benefitting. Obviously those end consumers do not think they are.

You are certainly free to think that's a silly argument but it's merely real input from actual end consumers in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. (Maybe you could point me to the Yahoo! Autos Suggestion Board with consumers gushing about how great the switch has been for them.)

For my clients, the "product" and the consultation that I provide to them is very well worth the money or they wouldn't still be clients. Sorry if that conflicts with your expert opinion of how things should be but it's a fact.




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Lightnup - I will never respect a word you say as long as you hide behind a fictitious name. All we know is that you work for Autotrader.com and simply come on here to make excuses for your employer. You really don't add anything to any conversation and actually hurt Autotrader.com with a lot of the things you say to your clients!

You're correct, 54 felt the need to say they don't like change. Whoopty friggin' doo!

Now, please get with your buddies in Atlanta and make your product work again...if you had been doing that all along, maybe you'd still be on Yahoo instead of crying about not being there any more on Dealer Refresh.
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  • J
  • January 26, 2008
Lightnup -
maybe i'm mising something. are you with AT? If so, surely you realize that your customers find your company a neccessary evil.. as for the 'consultation': YEAH, MY REPS SUGGESTION THAT WE USE ALL CAPS FOR EVERYTHING WAS GOLDEN !!! I told him I hoped he was telling all of my comeptitors that!
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Lightnup,

Alex has asked you some very pointed questions. You would do better to let everyone know who you are and answer his questions as directly as he has put them to you.

Hiding behind a fictitious name really makes you lose credibility.

I know some good guys at AT. You are doing them a disservice with your postings.
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    Lightnup
  • January 29, 2008
Alex,

I'm certainly not crying about not being on Yahoo! Autos. Quite the contrary. It's much more beneficial from a dealership standpoint to have inventory listed on the 3 best-known automotive reference sites (kbb, edmunds, NADA), where visitors are actually in the market, than it does the top site for weather, sports scores and Britney Spears updates.

I merely pointed out the fact that there was a growing list of Yahoo! Autos users who were posting that they were dissatisfied with the selection of vehicles they now have. It's indisputable that Yahoo! Autos' new partner does not have as large an inventory of vehicles or dealers. Somehow, you turned that into my "making excuses" and "crying."

AT's "product" works, dealers sell cars every day to AT customers, the value is there (doesn't matter whether you believe it or not. There are those who hate Dell computers and don't think they are worth the money but mine works just fine and was a good value. It's all in the eye of the person spending the money) and whether my name is Sally, Alex or Achmed doesn't make one bit of difference.

DealerRefresh is a great resource. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and to add to the conversation. I haven't slandered anyone, I haven't attacked anyone. I posted a message regarding the Yahoo! Autos Discussion Board and it was your choice to not respond, say "Who Cares?" or to attack the messenger. You chose the latter. I'm sure that if you came across a "bash AT.com" site (a la the AutoTrader.com pricing thread) you would be the first to post about it on DealerRefresh.

Gilbert - There are many, many good guys at AT, just as there are many, many good guys at cars.com. I'm not doing anyone a disservice.

And I've never recommended using all caps to any of my dealer clients. I'm sure some less-knowledgeable reps with BOTH companies have made stupid suggestions to their dealers at one time or another.


T
I love it! Lightnup and his contemporaries at AutoTrader.com were the same ones espousing the virtues of the AT/Yahoo tie-up for the last 2 years!!! All of the sudden, "It's much more beneficial from a dealership standpoint to have inventory listed on the 3 best-known automotive reference sites (kbb, edmunds, NADA), where visitors are actually in the market, than it does the top site for weather, sports scores and Britney Spears updates."

Lightnup: Were you telling your customers that for the last 2 years, or were you selling the "value" of the AT/Yahoo alliance??? Come on Dude.
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    Lightnup
  • January 29, 2008
Well, Duh. Of course I was touting Yahoo!, it was what we had at the time. Any good salesperson promotes the virtues of what they have to sell. When a salesperson switches from, say, a Mercedes store to a Lexus store (or vice-versa), does that mean he or she was lying to all the people that previously bought a Mercedes from them? Of course not. They sold the virtues of the Mercedes over the Lexus and will now sell the virtues of the Lexus over the Mercedes. That's Sales 101.

AT.com and cars.com will always be bidding against each other for strategic alliances with different sites as those contracts expire in future years. Sometimes, it's just who wants to "buy" the business the most. You are implying that all cars.com salespeople must have been lying when they were touting the virtues of msn.com and kbb.com when those sites were aligned with cars.com, or else they are lying now about Yahoo! Autos because surely they downplayed Yahoo! when Yahoo! wasn't in their arsenal. That just doesn't make sense. If you are expecting the entire sales force of either company to jump ship every time their company loses a contract just so they can't be accused of having lied to their customers about a strategic partner, that's not very realistic.

And, for the record, I have always thought that having kbb.com would be more to AT's benefit than having Yahoo! Autos.
T
Well, I guess that is the difference between you and me. I don't take a job selling something I can't believe in.

For the record, it is unarguably unethical to knowingly sell something to a customer which will not meet that customer's needs as well as a competing product. That is Sales 101, Buddy.

When I was selling BMW's, there were several times that I was honest (there's a concept for you, huh?) with my potential buyers and advised them that a Lexus or a Cadillac might be a better fit for them.
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    Lightnup
  • January 29, 2008
You're nit-picking Tim. There are so many other factors that, in my opinion, make AT a better choice for my clients that the difference between having Yahoo! or kbb isn't even on the radar screen. It just happens to be the topic of discussion here. We STILL meet our customers needs with or without Yahoo! so yours is a moot point. But, again, you're implying that any cars.com rep who plugged kbb.com is now arguably unethical if they don't refer all their prospects to AT because now we have kbb.com. Ludicrous.

So, if you were selling a BMW that was otherwise perfect for your customer but it came equipped with Contis and you personally think Michelins are better, you would be "arguably unethical" unless you told your customer to go buy a car with Michelins? Yeah, right. It's just one small factor in the overall picture Tim. Like I said, nit-picking.

I've told many potential customers when I thought we weren't a fit for their business or they weren't a fit for us.
T
In order not bore everybody else reading this thread, after this response I will try to refrain from continuing to argue something we obviously won't agree on.

I do see your point, you made a valid argument with the Contis/Michelin example. However, If you had left out the "much more" from your original point of "It's much more beneficial from a dealership standpoint to have inventory listed on the 3 best-known automotive reference sites..." your argument would hold more water.

Either it is a significant benefit, thus warranting the statement that it is "much more beneficial"...or I am "nit-picking" and "It's just one small factor in the overall picture." It can't be both. You can't have it both ways.
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Sally....errr....Lightnup.....whatever your name is - Hiding behind a fake name shows you're a coward. There is zero credibility behind anything you say when you completely hide on the InterWebz. Whether you're Sally, Lightnup, Clarion Hilton, Richard Simmons, Rosanne or Rosie, you represent a company I have beef with right now. I'd like to not have beef with that company, but have trouble endorsing something that jacks rates simply for the sake of jacking rates. Then to add insult to injury, that same company sends Lightnup's to justify these rate increases, and these Lightnup's simply insult my intelligence with their BS.

AutoTrader.com -

Please....please, please, please, please listen to me (one of your potential customers). I want to give you my money. I want to advertise on your product. I want to be a premium business partner. I want to take advantage of everything you have to offer.

Here's what you need to do to get me back: for the waaaay higher prices you charge than all of your competitors, I expect a much higher ROI than what I get with all of your competitors. It is really that simple.

Oh, and one more thing.....Please stop investing in Lightnup's who insult me by spouting BS reasons for everything.
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    Lightnup
  • January 29, 2008
Excellent point. It's just one small factor in the overall picture.
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    Sharon R
  • January 29, 2008
"Oh, and one more thing.....Please stop investing in Lightnup's who insult me by spouting BS reasons for everything"

Sorry Alex but it's going to get worse before it gets any better....

http://www.autotrader.com/careers/index.jsp

Dealers are waking up to realize the rate increases from ATC are not justified. The psychology of the internet car shopper has changed (as it always has & will). ATC is looking for a churn rate of under 2%, great goal but impossible in this economic climate and with their rate structures the past year (and going into this year) The best years of performace from ATC are behind it.

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    Lightnup
  • January 29, 2008
Alex, you are obviously at such a high stratosphere of intelligence and superior knowledge that no matter what I say, even when it's factual, you have the unique ability to ferret out that it must be BS because it comes from someone without your keen sense of what is and what is not BS. It must be tough to be right all the time.

My apologies for even attempting to match wit and wisdom with one as omniscient as you. Why, if I was only as smart as you, I would quit my job tomorrow and stand outside AT headquarters with a sign proclaiming to the world that Alex has decreed that everything coming from anyone associated with AutoTrader.com is BS because he has a beef with the company.

If only I didn't have to feed my family, I could attempt to rise to your level of honor and justice. Instead, I guess I'll just have to remain a highly paid employee of the rapidly growing, number One Automotive website on the planet and just hope I can remember in the future how small our company was back in 2008 before it really took off. Living with the fact that Alex says I have no credibility is just one of the burdens I'll have to bear, but I suspect I'll get over it eventually.
A
Lightnup - that's awesome! You finally came up with a decent comeback!
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    Sharon S
  • January 29, 2008
"...I guess I'll just have to remain a highly paid employee..."

Good luck w/that belief this year! The Emperor has no clothes campaign from ATC. Autotrader doesn't actually need more reps, they need a bigger audience of in market shoppers and less leak thru features that have little or nothing to do with marketing our vehicles! W/out that your income is on the slide unfortunately.
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    Lightnup
  • January 29, 2008
Not to worry Sharon. Things are under control.
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Let's have a poll, who is Lightnup... Chip Perry or Bill Templeton? http://www.autotrader.com/about/pressroom/media/management.jsp hahaha. Too much fun!

hmmm... Although I have had email discussions with Chip Perry before (he is engaging), Look at Bill's smile and wild eye. I say it's Bill!http://www.autotraderstatic.com/cms/img/pressroom/management/1_management_24830_lg.jpg?
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    Lightnup
  • February 3, 2008
I'll admit I'm biased but, come on, $6 million dollars for those two ads? How disappointing.

Maybe Jeff will start a thread or Poll about the SuperBowl ads.
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  • R
  • February 5, 2008
I'll admit to being biased too, and do it publicly. The cars.com ads were not disappointing for us and I havent heard a complaint yet from the dealers in my area. Too much weight is given to the very subjective science of rating the ads. At the end of the day 95 million viewers laid eyes on the ads and were presented with a great product. Dealers using Cars.com got their advertising vehicle on the largest media stage in the world. That all seems so grandiose, more simply stated, if you are talking about it, doesn't really matter what you are saying, it was successful.

It's also worth noting that this was the "kickoff" for our 200 million dollar marketing campaign for '08. My only disappointment is that we couldn't air all of the spots. There are some great ones in the campaign that are still to come. I believe the marketing build up through first quarter will be very powerful.

I'm going to have to agree with you about one thing Lightnup. I would also like to see a poll dedicated to this topic. But let's raise the stakes a bit.

Was the Cars.com Superbowl campaign a success?

How convinced are you of the failure of these ads? Would you be willing to wager your identity for a 75% majority vote?
R