Dealer Centricity Scores – Part One


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Does the automotive industry need another acronym?

The automotive community relies heavily on third party websites to advertise their car inventory. I will argue that a dealer’s inventory is their currency for business along with its brand reputation and customer service.

Since their inventory is their primary eCommerce asset, it is surprising to see that many dealers have not objectively inspected where and how their cars are being merchandised.

In the past two years a number of new inventory advertising platforms have been created which has given dealers new choices for automotive advertising. I have been involved on the creation of one of those new choices with the release of the Automotive Advertising Network (AAN).

However, this article is not self promotional, rather I want to start a dialogue on advertising design and how that impacts leads and conversion.

For some car dealers, their inventory is being syndicated by their inventory management companies. For other car dealers they subscribe to inventory advertising solutions directly. Inventory syndication is part of all car dealer budgets but little has been written to help car dealers differentiate these many choices.

Dealer Centricity Score (DCS)

PCG Digital Marketing has created the Dealer Centricity Score (DCS) to start a discussion on the options dealers have to advertise their car inventory. The DCS is a measure of which inventory advertising platforms are dealer centric and which platforms are more self serving. As competition increases, I believe that dealers will gravitate toward those platforms that are dealer centric and that have a strong return on investment (ROI).

Currently, millions of dollars of profits are being generated by advertisements that run on Vehicle Detail Pages (VDP) which showcase a car for sale at a local dealer. The search results, organic, pay-per-click, or through a menu search, are enabled by local dealer inventory. Dealer inventory is the actual “content” that powers the most popular automotive advertising platforms. Not many people have addressed this model but car dealers do not share in the revenue generated off their own Vehicle Detail Pages.

In fact, car dealers send their eCommerce currency (their cars) to companies that charge them for the opportunity to list their cars. As a result of that relationship, the advertising platforms make millions of dollars in advertising dollars and commission fees that are not shared with the dealer.

This advertising model is not new. However when you ask a dealer which platforms are more dealer centric (less ads) vs. more vendor centric (more ads) they are hard pressed to know the difference. With more choices coming on the market that are providing calls, leads, and floor traffic I believe that the DCS rating will start to educate dealers on which platforms make the most sense and “cents” for their brand.

Looking a Advertising Leaks

The home page design or vehicle search pages vary on each advertising platform. The number of ads that show on these pages give an indication on the overall design and revenue goals of the advertiser. I have no issue with these pages however I do have an opinion on the design of the Vehicle Detail Pages (VDP).

When you get down to a specific car sold at a paid advertising dealer, my belief is that the platform should not cross sell or create brand leaks for the paying advertiser.

In Part One of this article, I will show you a number of Vehicle Detail Pages (VDP) from various advertising platforms. I will point out the number of advertising regions that are displayed on a dealer’s VDP. I contend that the more ads and brand leaks on a VDP, the less leads, calls, and showroom traffic a dealer will receive.

This is based on the fact that many of their advertising distractions encourage consumers to look at a different car or a competing local dealer’s’ inventory.

Calculating Dealer Centricity Scores

In part two of this article I will publish the Dealer Centricity Scores (DCS) for a number of popular automotive advertising platforms. The list will rank the automotive advertising platforms based on their dealer centric advertising practices. The less advertisements on the VDP will receive higher Dealer Centricity Scores.

I would like your feedback on the Vehicle Detail Pages (VDP) from popular inventory advertising platforms listed below. There is nothing unethical with any of the practices shown in the screen shots. I challenge car dealers to ask themselves, if they have other options, is this the best way to advertise your cars? Is this what an advertising partner relationship should be like? If the net results of your monthly advertising investments are providing a strong ROI, then you may very well keep things unchanged.

Advertising Questions To Consider

There are many questions that come to mind when you look objectively at the Vehicle Detail Pages (VDP) on third party advertising platforms:

  • If you are paying for your cars to be listed on third party advertising platforms, that your competitors ads should not be displayed on your VDP?
  • Does cross-selling on your Vehicle Detail Pages by OEM ads is reducing your conversion?
  • Should dealers share revenue generated from offering insurance quotes or paid CARFAX reports on their Vehicle Detail Pages (VDP)?

Please take a moment to add your thoughts about the current state of our industry. Keep in mind that dealers have the freedom to NOT advertise on any automotive inventory listing website. Freedom of choice is increasing for car retailers so the DCS rating may become the way in which car dealers can measure the alignment of their advertising partners.

Autotrader VDP

AUtotrader Vehicle Detail Page - Dealer Centricity Score (DCS)

Cars.Com VDP Vehicle Detail Pages - Dealer Centricity Score (DCS)


Kelly Blue Book Vehicle Detail Page - Dealer Centrcity Score (DCS) VDP Vehicle Detail Pages - Dealer Centricity Score (DCS) VDP Vehicle Detail Page

CarGurus.Com VDP

Car Gurs Vehicle Detail page -Dealer Centrcity Score VDP Vehicle Detail Page

Automotive Advertising Choices

Do you agree that car dealers should have a third party measurement of the concentration of advertising and third party leaks on their Vehicle Detail Pages? The Dealer Centricity Score (DCS) will create a standard to measure and compare the advertising designs of car inventory platforms. I look forward to your feedback and I will be posting the second part of this article shortly.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Brian Pasch
Brian Pasch is an 20+ year veteran of the direct marketing industry. His career has spanned both management and technology roles. He is known for his expertise in consumer data warehousing models as well as digital marketing strategy. He is the author of four books on marketing and his latest book is entitled "Mastering Automotive Digital Marketing."


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