- How do I validate thier effectiveness?

Chip Diggs
Recently I had a conversation with our rep regarding the ROI of their product. Of course it wasn't what she was expecting and not sure if she was actually prepared to discuss the topic. My question was simply how should "I" the dealer validate whether or not their product was positively effecting our bottom line? Something like if I spend X what should I expect to get in return. The conversation went from SRP's to VDP's to referral traffic to sales. Most of us that have worked with them for a long time will know all too well they do not believe they are a "lead" provider so take that out of the equation. So back to the question. How does everyone else determine at the end of a month, quarter, year if is worth the spend? Would love to hear what analytics everyone uses to make this determination.
Lauren Moses
Honestly Chip, I can't say from our analytics becuase we aren't listed with them, but I can say one thing. In my opinion it's going to be hard simply because AT is pay to play. The more your willing to pay the more your going to get out of it. Higher up listings, more ads, etc. all play into your ROI on that. How can you compare all those different dealerships when everyone is paying differently. Especially since they charge off the size of your inventory. I would honestly still stick with the leads that it generates and also calculate in how many times your inventory has shown up in the search results, vdp views, etc. Those all play into how effective of a response you are getting from them. Hope it helps.
Dan Sayer
Cost per VDP. Look at the trend month-to-month. If you're in that $0.65 to $0.85 per VDP then you're probably doing well with your pricing, photos, merchandising, etc. If you are over a dollar then you will want to press them on how to get that number down. I'm one to be on the fence of looking at them as a classified listing rather than a lead provider. If you simple measured the ROI based on the conversion of the leads they provide you would fire them in an instant. We have three stores on and two stores off. Measuring....
Grant Gooley
Dan said it. Cost per VDP. Makes life much easier when looking at it that way!
Robert Niven
They will be the first to tell you that they are simply advertising for your inventory. Like any other advertising the more you pay the more your inventory shows up. Just like TV. You can be on TV, but never see your spot. There are so many levels of participation on AutoTrader that even if you are the only (insert brand here) dealer in town you may not show up first in the listings. Especially with their banner adds; while the requested search loads they serve up a "highlighted" dealer. Even if you search a 10 mile radius and only select one brand, your competition can show up on the top and side adds with their special offers. In order to lock-down your brand, you probably need to be at $7k per month. Once you do, they'll probably create another new top tier to sell.
Chip Diggs
So am I to believe that we should not hold them ( to a standard of performance that actually hits the bottom line. Let's say as a dealer I'm not on and sell on average 150 cars per month. I decide to spend $9500 to $10000 per month with them. Should I not expect my sales to go up? I cannot take a VDP to the bank and cash it in for money. I can only spend the money that comes from moving metal. Should we not be able to determine if assisted in an additional "X" sales per month. I do mean "additional". Let's look at it another way. If a dealer was spending $9500 - $10000 per month with and averaging 150 cars per month then decided to leave and still averaged 150 cars per month or went down two or three cars on average would they sign back up? I'm trying to figure out if the spend has merit or if like the newspaper it really isn't as effective as I "think" it is. I'm not saying they do not provide a dealership with "eyeballs" on their inventory on "their" site. I'm just wondering if that same spend or even half or a third of it would get the same eyeballs and be more cost effective in another venue. To date I have not had anyone say has increased their sales by XYZ. What I am hearing is they will deliver SRP's and VDP's on "their" site if we pay to play. My dilemma is determining if this is the best way to get those eyeballs. I have to believe customers are looking at more than "just" when they are searching for a new or pre-owned vehicle. For the spend I want to be able to look my GMs; Sales Managers and Managing Partners in the eye and say "This Product Rocks!!!" Anyone doing that?

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