The automotive marketing world has always been an interest of ours. The way that cars are advertised on traditional media and marketed through digital means has acted as the trendsetter across all mediums. As the car business goes, so too does the rest of the North American retail marketing world.
A recent trend in the way that third-party sites direct traffic across the internet caught our attention as another of these trendsetting concepts. Just about every retail industry utilized third-party websites to help sell their wares. In the travel industry, for example, the discount comparison sites like Expedia have changed the way we move across the country and around the world. Retail sites like Amazon have become the one-stop-shop for everything from computers to toilet paper.
In the automotive industry, there has always been websites like AutoTrader and LemonFree that pull in inventory from the tens of thousands of car dealers across the United States and give consumers the ability to sort through and shop multiple dealerships and individuals at once. Portions of this model are still holding strong, but there’s a component many of the websites that consumers don’t know about and that dealers often dislike: the double middleman.
Many of the third-party sites that list dealer inventory pull consumers in and prompt them to fill out lead forms for vehicles that they like. This is fine on some websites, particularly the ones that give the generated leads directly to the dealers with the inventory. On other websites, the expectation is very different from the actual process.
Some websites, which are already acting as middlemen, will generate leads with dealer inventory just as others, but they then sell those leads to other middlemen. Sound strange? That’s what we thought. As it turns out, it’s more lucrative to take someone interested in a particular vehicle and sell it to finance companies, other dealerships, and even the manufacturers themselves who may or may not distribute the lead to the dealership that has the actual vehicle.
We noticed on some websites that many of the cars listed at the top of their searches didn’t take visitors to pages on their own site but instead directed visitors directly into the vehicle details page on the dealership’s website itself. We learned that this is called “deeplinking” and it’s being implemented by a company called LotLinx.
With deeplinking, consumers are driven right to the page on the dealership’s website that gives the details about the vehicle they way. If they call or fill out a lead form, it goes to the dealership that has the vehicle, making it a smoother and more logical method of contact and eliminating the extra middleman in the process.
As the company continues to expand its number of participating dealers as well as its list of third-party websites, we should see this type of direct transaction and communication improve. For once, we get to see a technology that greatly benefits both the consumer and the car dealer simultaneously.