Why a dealership shouldn’t buy traffic from an online marketplace?

Marketing your inventory can be complex. In fact, that’s why online marketplaces exist. Over time, the marketplaces have evolved. In the beginning, they offered their services for free to dealerships to establish an inventory, then as they hit a critical mass of vehicles, they started to charge a nominal fee, and then more recently have raised that rate to a point where it’s borderline ridiculous, almost thievery.

Like many other marketing channels, evolution is inevitable, almost necessary. It makes sense to charge a fee for listings to increase the quality of the inventory. It’s okay to increase that fee to a point where the marketplace is sustainable. It helps you sell your inventory to an audience outside of your immediate location.

Change Isn’t Evolution

 Marketing; however, can take a darker path when the channels become too powerful, or as it is in online vehicle marketing, when they have a monopoly. For instance, take an online marketplace that has so much power that they start using your inventory as bait. The theory is you pay for a listing, but then they charge other dealerships to place their own vehicles next to yours. Your vehicle may be the best option found through search, but what should be seen as your space turns into a cluttered page with the ads surrounding your listing. Your base membership isn’t enough when others are diluting your message with ads. 

 Selling multiple product lines makes sense for many marketing companies. What isn’t acceptable is turning around and selling the traffic that you built for them back to you.

The practice comes from the concept of cookies, the digital tether, a small piece of data that a website pushes to a web users computer or phone to track their online use. Originally used to help remember concepts such as what a user had in her shopping cart, cookies have seen their own evolution and market pushback in recent years.

This is only designed to let the marketplace stick their hands deeper into a dealers pocket. And this is why:

It’s your traffic.

It was your inventory that brought those clients to the marketplace and now that marketplace is putting a premium on what should be considered YOUR hard work. You’ve ALREADY paid for this traffic with your membership.

It comes with a hefty tether.

It isn’t raw data, but more services you are getting, so not only are you paying a premium for the information, but you have to buy their services to get the leads. They are selling it to you in the form of Google Adwords and Facebook marketing.

There is no separate of data.

You aren’t just buying your own clients’ data, you’re buying data from your competition too. That means that while it will be good for the first few hundred dealerships that sign up for the service, over time, the market is saturated to a point that it will no longer work.

In the end, your marketing will cost more and won’t go as far. Both Google Adwords and Facebook Marketing will cost more and more just to get in front of the same people because more dealerships will be looking to buy that data. In essence, collectively, every dealership that signs up for the service will be responsible for running up the price of that service like an auction with no limits.

Spend Your Marketing Dollar Wisely

Over time, we’ve developed a love-hate relationship with online marketplaces. There have been some great inroads to reaching new clients. Unfortunately, they’ve gone too far, hyping up a product that is essentially crap. Enough is enough. It’s time for dealerships to stand up for themselves and stop throwing away their money on marketing tactics that are only designed to make the marketer rich.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more content.

Jason Harris

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