Social/Digital Media

CarStory secures 2nd patent in 2 years

AUSTIN, Texas - 

CarStory, a provider of search and inventory data and analytics on used vehicles, announced on Monday that a technology powering its Market Reports has been awarded a U.S. Patent No. 9,465,873. The company highlighted this is the second patent awarded in two years for a technology utilized by CarStory Market Reports.

To date, the tool has been adopted by more than 6,000 dealers nationwide to help consumers understand a vehicle’s whole “story” through comprehensive, real-time, hyper-local data. CarStory can deliver 15 million Market Reports each month to consumers around the country.

The patent, which is titled “Systems, Methods and Devices for Identifying and Presenting Identifications of Significant Attributes of Unique Items,” was awarded to, which uses the technology to power its CarStory Market Reports. The technology automatically can determine which aspects of a used-vehicle search are most significant to consumers and then identify the top three or four features that are the unique price drivers for that vehicle, presenting them in an easily digestible format to enable consumers to make more confident purchasing decisions.’s most recent previous patent was issued in December of last year for its “similarities engine,” which automatically can generate relevant and “like” vehicle recommendations through the CarStory Market Reports to buyers, helping facilitate a better, more informed vehicle selling/buying experience.

“Vast’s newest patent validates the power of the technology behind CarStory Market Reports. Because used vehicle price drivers differ dramatically from those that influence pricing when a vehicle is brand new, unique technology is required to help illuminate and quantify nuances for both dealers and consumers alike,” said David Franke, chief data scientist at and co-inventor of the patent.

For example, a trim line that adds value to a vehicle when it is new may not play the same, positive role in the model’s price after a few years of wear and tear — leather seats may age poorly or GPS technology may be outdated.

“It is this real time, preference-based, nuanced vehicle intelligence that has been awarded in the patent and is the reason CarStory Market Reports have been so widely adopted,” Franke said.

“Our ‘demand/price driver engine’ improves the used car buying process by highlighting the handful of vehicle attributes that consumers are most interested in — even down to regional and local levels,” he continued.

By embedding important vehicle research directly in the vehicle detail page (VDP), CarStory Market Reports can encourage consumers to stay and engage on dealership websites, rather than clicking off to find information on third-party research sites. The Reports’ robust and unique information is based on insights generated from a combination of real-time used vehicle listings and data from over eight million used car searches each week.

The patented technology can highlight the unique attributes and features that drive price, whether it’s Bluetooth, roof rack or heated seats.

“CarStory Market Reports really help educate our sales team about which features are most important to our used car shoppers, and, because they are so engaging and informative, the reports have increased our online lead conversion,” said Tom White Jr., general manager of Subaru of Wichita.

Digital Air Strike welcomes 2 new executives


Social media and digital engagement company Digital Air Strike announced the addition of two technology veterans with extensive media, data and entrepreneurial experience to their senior leadership team.

This week, Anthony Argenziano joined Digital Air Strike as chief technology officer where he will manage and drive the company’s innovation and product development. David Corchado now is with the company as chief digital officer where he will guide the company’s expansion into key strategic markets.

“We are excited that Anthony and David have joined our team,” Digital Air Strike co-founder and chief executive officer Alexi Venneri said. “Their experience in digital marketing technology paired with their track records of driving growth will be invaluable as we continue to build innovative solutions in many vertical markets. 

“Anthony and David bring a wealth of enterprise retail technology experience to our company,” Venneri continued. “It is exciting to already see how their vision and passion for innovation will benefit our clients and partners.”

Argenziano has more than two decades of experience as a technology and product executive and entrepreneur with expertise in product development, professional services, business development, and operations. He specializes in creating and implementing high-performance strategies that directly impact innovation, growth, and profitability.

Prior to joining Digital Air Strike, Argenziano was the head of risk platform at Amazon and the chief technology officer at eBay Enterprises Display where he was responsible for setting the company’s product vision and strategy as well as developing software, technical operations and support.

Anthony did most of his undergraduate work at the University of Arizona before completing his B.A. in Management at Ottawa University and receiving his M.B.A. from Arizona State University.

Corchado has almost 20 years of experience in data driven consumer marketing roles. Prior to joining Digital Air Strike, he was the chief data officer at iCrossing, a division of the Hearst Corp. and also served as chief technology officer. 

Before iCrossing, Corchado was group vice president at\Worldwide, and led global site design for major brands including British Airways, Ford, Bank of America and General Electric.  

When kids run the dealership for a day


 “If I were school principal for a day …”

It’s a popular childhood meme.

But what if kids ran a dealership for a day?

That was the crux of Chrysler’s recent effort to drum up publicity for the 2017 Pacifica.

In essence it was business as usual at Southern California’s Victorville Motors on Sept. 14, except that the 12 families who came in to shop were catered to by Chrysler’s PacifiKids — Izzy (10), Miles (11), and Harper (8), and their young staff of eight.

Hidden cameras recorded the action as part of the digital and social media stunt.

 “Kids today are influencing their parents’ purchasing decisions more than ever, from the clothes they buy, to the music they download, to even the cars they buy,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger car brands — Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA – North America. “So we thought, why not let children, the ones who are informing those major family purchases and for whom the Chrysler Pacifica is built, take over a real FCA dealership for one day to show moms and dads why the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is the best vehicle for their family.”

Over the course of two-and-a-half days, the dealership was transformed into a work-meets-play environment, from colorful walls and toys on desks to beanbag chairs and a slide leading into a ball pit.

Each family who visited was given a hands-on tour of the Pacifica, with the PacifiKids highlighting the minivan’s features.

“It will completely park itself,” a young salesgirl tells a family of three — prompting the husband to tell his wife: “You need one of those!”

The hidden-camera stunt, viewable at the top of the page or by clicking here, was the kickoff to a six-week digital and social campaign for Chrysler.

Consumers in Dallas, Los Angeles and New York can fill out a “permission slip” that will make one family from each market eligible for a daylong “field trip” to videotape their experiences with the minivan. Entry ends Oct. 17.

The videos will be posted at on Nov. 12, and customers throughout the U.S. cam vote for their favorite video. The family whose video gets the most votes will win a 2017 Pacifica.

And one person who votes for a video will be randomly selected to also receive a 2017 Pacifica.

Additionally, consumers in 10 markets — Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix and San Francisco — can also submit “permission slips” for a weeklong extended test drive in a 2017 Pacifica. Twenty-one families will be chosen. Enter until Oct. 26 at


Car shoppers feeling web-to-showroom disconnect


More and more people are looking for their next vehicle online. That’s changed the nature of brick-and-mortar shopping, with many buyers starting the process digitally and finishing it at the dealership.

But a recent survey from Accenture revealed that shoppers are feeling a disconnect between their web and showroom experiences.

Consumers in the U.S., China and Germany who recently purchased a vehicle were asked to rate their perception of “seamless integration” on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being “most integrated.” The average rating was 2.32.

“Today’s consumers, influenced by digital technology, are driving the car-buying process. They are visiting showrooms to seek distinct information to supplement the information found on the web, and want counsel from product and customer experts instead of a traditional sales presentation,” said Axel Schmidt, managing director in Accenture’s automotive practice.

“As digitization increases, automakers and dealers can no longer afford to ignore full integration of their operations. They must work together more closely than ever to create a truly seamless, multichannel experience to satisfy customers," Schmidt continued.

Accenture made a distinction between consumers who shop online frequently (“Digital Natives”) and those who are more conservative online users (“Digital Laggards”). The report found that Natives visit the dealer more often than Laggards: 60 percent of them stop at their dealership more than twice before buying a car, while only 47 percent of latter do so.

Natives may need less time at the dealer because they have made their buying decision online. This emphasizes how the showroom’s role is being redefined as the place to finalize the purchase of a car, rather than the traditional starting point. The survey also showed that nearly all car-buying decisions are made online, and many customers do not believe that in-person interaction is necessary at each stage of the transaction.

Survey respondents also indicated there is room for improvement in digital channels as well as showrooms. Nearly half (43 percent) would consider purchasing a new vehicle online if prices were lower than those at the dealership. This is true for half of the Laggards, who said they would buy new vehicles online if prices were cheaper. They are also interested in advanced product configurators, online chat consultation, and enhanced reality-based experiences.

In terms of offline improvements, the survey found that in addition to wanting expert product advice, many respondents would like staff to be available to answer additional questions and provide recommendations regarding their purchase throughout the buying process — not just in person.

“There are clear opportunities for the industry to improve interaction with customers using new technologies like cloud-based customer relationship management, business-insights software and virtual- and augmented-reality technologies. Automakers and dealers have almost everything they need to make the online-offline experience more compelling, but what they need to do is to bring it all together and make it work,” said Schmidt. “That’s likely to be challenging, but it will be rewarding for those who are able to create strong multi-channel integration.”

While Accenture found that many buyers do not believe face-to-face interaction is necessary at every stage of the process, some parts of the process, i.e. clear-cut trade-in value and deal structure, can be difficult without it. Mike Burgiss, vice president of digital retailing at Cox Automotive, addressed the so-called “missing piece” in digital auto retailing in a recent Auto Remarketing story.

Buying preferences vary by country

Accenture found notable differences in where consumers wish to buy their cars. For example, interest in buying from an online store was highest among U.S. buyers at 19 percent, versus 15 percent of Chinese buyers and 10 percent of German buyers. Other findings:

—Chinese consumers showed the strongest preference for flagship stores, with 37 percent saying they would buy their next car at such an outlet, and 28 percent preferred picking up their new car from their dealer.

—Prospective buyers in Germany showed the strongest interest in buying a car at a standard dealership, with nearly half (46 percent) citing such a preference as their vehicle purchase location. Sixty-one percent also preferred picking up their car from the dealer. Twenty percent were open to auto retail outlets featuring advanced technologies, such as virtual reality experiences.

—Only 14 percent of U.S. respondents would prefer to purchase a vehicle from a flagship outlet. Thirty-five percent still prefer buying from a standard dealership.

“Despite these market differences, it is clear that automotive retail business models throughout the global market need to undergo a dramatic transformation to fully benefit from the multi-channel customer and fend off new market entrants, whose platform business models have already disrupted the second-hand car market,” said Schmidt.

Accenture carried out an online survey of approximately 3,000 consumers in China, Germany and the U.S. The survey participants are a representative number of private car buyers in each market who had purchased a new car in the past five years.


What Facebook Marketplace can mean for your dealership

TAMPA, Fla. - 

Facebook originally built buy and sell Facebook groups to help people connect and hock what they had to sell. Now, Facebook built a standalone marketplace for those 450 million people who visit those groups every month. Facebook calls it a “convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community."

Facebook Marketplace is in its infancy right now, but it’s going to have huge potential. Here are some ways your dealership can take advantage of this new platform.

Buying in Facebook Marketplace

You can think of Facebook Marketplace like Craigslist’s classified ads for dealerships. Facebook Marketplace lets you search for something you would like to buy, either locally, or in a different city, and you can message the seller directly. Facebook is not currently facilitating payments or delivery, but you can almost guarantee that they will in the future. They’re a publically traded company after all.

Selling in Facebook Marketplace

To sell an item in Facebook Marketplace, you:

1. Take a photo of your item from your cell phone and add it from your camera roll

2. Enter a product name, description and price

3. Confirm your location and select a category

4. Post

How dealerships can benefit from Facebook Marketplace

You already know what is selling well at your dealership, or at least you should. Now your sales team, or internet sales manager, can use Facebook Marketplace to reach out to consumers, offering to buy what they’re selling and get them into something new at your dealership. You can also offer to just buy it from them, which may be better received and less “spammy”

Facebook offers a cars, trucks and motorcycles category and you can filter by price and location. Expect more filters in the future if the marketplace is widely adopted.

As mentioned earlier, Facebook Marketplace is not technically for businesses yet, but you can use your personal Facebook page to start taking advantage it. Get your feet wet now, while it’s still new, and your dealership will surely benefit. 

Adam Goldberg is the marketing manager at LotVantage, a provider of digital marketing solutions for automotive, marine, powersports, RV, trailer and outdoor power equipment dealerships. He can be reached at You can also access more social media tips at

eBay Motors announces enhanced buyer protection

SAN JOSE, Calif.  - 

eBay Motors and its Business and Industrial division have announced a move aimed at increasing buyer confidence.

As such, the company is doubling its coverage protection up to $100,000 on its Vehicle Purchase Protection (VPP) and Business Equipment Purchase Protection (BEEP) programs, applicable to purchases after Sept. 1.

“At eBay, nothing is more important than trust. Without it, our global marketplace couldn’t function,” said Tony Hoang, head of vehicles at eBay Motors. “For our shoppers who are purchasing vehicles or business equipment, we’re extending our buyer protection programs to help put our buyers at ease when shopping on eBay.

“Whether consumers are browsing or ready to make a critical purchasing decision, the scope of these protection programs is unique in the automotive ecommerce industry, empowering our sellers’ and dealers’ growth by offering a worry-free, secure shopping experience," he continued.

The updated VPP program is complemented by eBay Motors partnerships with WeGoLook for third party on-site inspections and warranties for automotive parts and accessories provided by Assurant.

The expanded protection programs consist of the following:

—eBay Motors’ VPP covers up to $100,000 for eligible purchases on eBay Motors for vehicle non-delivery, missing title or major undisclosed defects. Buyers are automatically enrolled in the program at no charge. Learn more about what’s covered and eligibility here.

—BEPP covers a buyer’s eligible purchase for up to $100,000 on eBay capital equipment in case of deliberate fraud or misrepresentation by the seller, including non-delivery, receiving an item that has undisclosed damage, the item was described as being less than 10 years old, or receiving an item that differs in type, make or model from what was described in the listing. Learn more about what’s covered and eligibility here.


Carvana moves into Midwest with Ohio launch

COLUMBUS, Ohio  - 

Online auto retailer Carvana — creator of the world’s first coin-operated Car Vending Machine — announced its expansion into Columbus, Ohio.

Columbus marks the company’s first Midwest launch and its seventh new market launch over the past seven months.

“We couldn’t be happier to be expanding into our first market in the Midwest, and to have that market be Columbus,” said Ernie Garcia, founder and CEO of Carvana.

“We chose Columbus because it’s centrally located within Ohio — one of our key states for growth — and is also the 15th largest city in the country,” Garcia said. “With a high concentration of early tech adopters who gravitate toward services like ours, the Carvana experience is built for a market like Columbus. We’re excited to be in a position to bring all that Carvana has to offer to customers in the area.”

Garcia is scheduled to speak during Used Car Week, scheduled for Nov. 14-18 at the Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa in Las Vegas.

Carvana is the only site where customers can search for, buy, finance and sell their car entirely online in 20 minutes or less without ever stepping foot inside a dealership. Carvana also provides a seven-day return policy for every vehicle purchased from its inventory of more than 5,000. 

With more than $460 million in funding, the company has heavily invested in advanced, proprietary technology to give customers every tool they need to complete the entire car-buying or selling transaction from the comfort of their own home, all while saving an average of $1,681 per purchase.

The company has delivered cars to customers in 46 states and provides delivery options nationwide.

Carvana currently offers as-soon-as next-day delivery to more than 110.3 million residents in 16 markets, which include:


—Austin, Texas

—Birmingham, Ala.

—Charlotte, N.C.

—Columbus, Ohio



—Jacksonville, Fla.


—Nashville, Tenn.

—Orlando, Fla.

—Raleigh, N.C.

—Richmond, Va.

—San Antonio

—Tampa, Fla.

—Washington D.C.

To show its appreciation to Columbus’ early adopters who purchased a vehicle prior to Carvana’s expansion into the market, Carvana is offering a full refund of any delivery fee paid.


8 ways your dealership can be successful on social media

TAMPA, Fla. - 

Social media success for your dealership is not an exact science. You may fall into one of the below categories when it comes to managing your dealership’s social media presence, which is synonymous with having a website. You need to have it in order for your dealership to stay competitive.

Here are the five ways dealerships often manage their social media:

—We manage it in-house and have a well-thought-out strategy.

—We post sometimes, but don’t really know what to do.

—Someone used to do it, but they no longer work at the dealership and we don’t have access to the page.

—We don’t see value in it or any ROI for the time we spend on it.

—We use it to post our inventory and that’s it, when we have the time.

If you fall into any of these categories, LotVantage can help you.

As of June 30, Facebook has 1.71 billion daily active users and Instagram has 300 million daily active users. According to Alexa, Facebook is the third-most-visited website on the internet and Instagram is No. 16. There is absolutely value in having an active and engaging presence on social media, especially Facebook and Instagram.

In this post we’re going to highlight what it takes for your dealership to be successful on social media and we’ll go into depth as to why each one of those tactics will make your dealership a destination, rather than passing right by it.

8 qualities of a successful dealership on social media

1. Rarely post inventory. Social media is not a direct sales tool.

2. Engage with your customers in posts and comments.

3. Happy customers post on their Facebook page about your dealership.

4. Share interesting and engaging content your customers will find value in and want to share.

5. Run Facebook and Instagram targeted ad campaigns.

6. Advertise specific inventory through retargeting based on what the customer was looking at on your website.

7. Don’t over- or under post.

8. Fans are using your Facebook page to write reviews and ask questions.

Why does your dealership need a social media presence?

Even though you’re a dealer, you’re a consumer as well. Aren’t you more likely to purchase something from a company you know and trust? Social media is how you build that trust and how people get to know your dealership.

Let’s go into detail about the ways your dealership will be successful on social media.

1. Social media is not a direct sales tool

Your website, salespeople, Craigslist and eBay are direct sales tools. Social media is an indirect sales tool. It indirectly gives you authority, builds trust and gives you a platform to communicate with your current and potential customers.

2. Engage with your customers

As of May, Facebook reported that consumers are spending 50 minutes a day on Facebook on average. Why not give your dealership a presence on a website where people are spending a lot of time? This means that 1/16 of the average user’s waking time is spent on Facebook. If your dealership is on Facebook with an active presence, customers will find you. If they comment on one of your posts, make sure you comment back.

3. Activate and motivate happy customers

If you post pictures on your dealership’s Facebook page of happy customers, you’re only doing it half right. The real value in a happy customer is that all their friends see it if they post it on their own page. Find a way to incentivize them to share that photo on their Facebook page instead and tag your dealership. Do this and you'll earn yourself free advertising.

4. Share interesting and engaging content

If you’re not supposed to post inventory and happy customers all the time, what are you supposed to post? Well, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What are they going to find entertaining and get some sort of value from? It could be an article about the different types of synthetic oil or how to know when to replace your tires. If you spend the time searching the internet for these types of articles, you’ll start to see your Facebook audience like, comment and share your content. Likes, comments and shares increase your dealership’s exposure.

5. Run Facebook and Instagram advertising campaigns (here’s where the ROI is)

Facebook has an extremely powerful advertising platform, which will let you run many different types of advertising campaigns. These advertising campaigns can actually be tied back to form submissions on your website, which will tell you when someone has filled out a form as a result of clicking on your ad. Even if you don’t have an Instagram account, you can use your Facebook page to represent your dealership on Instagram. We’ve covered a few topics regarding Instagram for your dealership in the past.

6. Retarget customers who land on your website with ads on other websites and Facebook

This is an advanced strategy, but if your dealership is able to master this, it puts advertisements for specific pieces of inventory back in front of your customers, helping close the sales loop and putting your dealership top of mind. If your dealership is using these types of ads and your competitors are not, you have gained the upper hand. LotVantage can help you with retargeting your inventory by placing a series of pixels and uploading a product catalog. Contact us if retargeting is something your dealership is interested in.

7. Post on your dealership Facebook Page consistently, but don’t over post

There is a balance between posting too much and not enough. Posting once a day is ideal, but don’t go without posting for 3 days. Remember, you are competing with other pages and friends to stay top of mind. It is important that you don’t inundate, which will dilute your message.

8. Facebook is a great platform to solicit reviews for your dealership

Facebook is a fantastic place to direct your customers to post reviews about your dealership. It’s also recommended that you respond to any and all customer reviews. It gives you an opportunity to manage your dealership’s reputation. Make sure you thank happy customers and work with those who may have had a negative experience.

Adam Goldberg is the marketing manager at LotVantage, a provider of digital marketing solutions for automotive, marine, powersports, RV, trailer and outdoor power equipment dealerships. He can be reached at You can also access more social media tips at

ACV Auctions gains $5M in funding, new CEO


Along with appointing a new chief executive officer, ACV Auctions this week announced that it has raised $5 million in venture funding, led by Tribeca Venture Partners, with participation from SoftBank Capital NY, Armory Square Ventures and Rand Capital.

In addition, the company appointed Synacor founder George Chamoun as CEO. In conjunction with the financing, Brian Hirsch from Tribeca Venture Partners and Jordan Levy from SBNY have joined the company’s board of directors.

ACV Auctions is a mobile platform that can enable dealers to view, bid and purchase inventory via online auctions. These live auctions are conducted from franchised dealer lots and last just 20 minutes.

Overseeing this operation now is Chamoun, who replaces ACV Auctions co-founder Joe Neiman, who will focus on market development.

Chamoun brings with him a record of accomplishment as an entrepreneur and senior executive. He co-founded Synacor right out of college in 1998, and spent the next two decades building it into a trusted technology and revenue partner for some of the largest video and communication providers in the world. Chamoun also serves as chairman of Launch NY, a non-for-profit organization supporting the startup ecosystem for Upstate New York.

As an early angel investor in ACV, Chamoun was drawn by the company’s long-term potential. Since then, he says ACV’s performance — and the overwhelmingly positive response of customers — has further affirmed his confidence in the company.

“In just one year, more than 800 dealerships registered for our mobile service, proving the value of our highly innovative service. These are the same reasons we also attracted top venture capital firms to fuel our growth,” Chamoun said.

“We are proving the case that dealers prefer to purchase wholesale inventory on ACV, because we enable transparency, trust and faster access to fresh trades,” he continued.

“ACV Auctions is to car auctions what broadband was to dialup: a superior experience by every measure,” Chamoun went on to say. “Our team is proud to partner with franchise and independent dealers throughout the country by offering a proven service that adds tremendous value to their businesses, and to the dealer industry overall.”

Hirsch elaborated about why Tribeca Venture Partners decided to send resources to ACV Auctions.

“Tribeca invests in world class entrepreneurs and radical innovation — not incremental improvement,” Hirsch said. “ACV already proved in its first year that it can transform the wholesale automotive sector and has a proven team of entrepreneurs that understand how to build a high-growth business.”

Meanwhile, Neiman insisted he will continue focusing on customers.

“Having owned a used car business myself and spending years buying cars in physical auctions, I understand the many challenges that dealers face,” he said. “With ACV, we have created a service that significantly reduces risk for used car dealerships.”

ACV was the $1 million winner of last year’s 43North startup competition, which each year draws startup applicants globally.

“43North is excited to see ACV Auctions receive $5 million in venture funding, and we welcome George Chamoun as their CEO,” 43North executive director John Gavigan said. “We look forward to seeing ACV Auctions continue to grow and revolutionize the wholesale auto auction process.”

Social media use rises among car shoppers, but not overly influential

COSTA MESA, Calif. - 

More car shoppers are using social media during their search, but a small number find the information there to be particularly influential.

According to J.D. Power’s 2016 New Autoshopper Study, 22 percent of internet car shoppers use a social media site as a source during their search. That’s up from 16 percent in 2015.

But of those shoppers who use social media, only 13 percent said the information influenced their purchase decision, and just 2 percent said a social media site was the “most useful site” they visited.

“Social media plays a large role in many consumers’ lives, so it's not surprising that it’s one of the tools they're using during the vehicle-shopping process,” said Mike Battaglia, vice president, automotive retail at J.D. Power.

“While we would not expect social media sites to compete head-on with designated auto shopping sites like and Kelley Blue Book, it's easy to understand the role and relevance social plays in the automotive shopping process.”

The study analyzed how new-vehicle buyers use digital devices to gather information prior to purchase, as well as which websites and apps they use during the shopping process. The study also examined which types of content new-vehicle buyers access during their shopping process and which content they find most useful.

Details about social media use

According to the study, the most popular social media sites used by auto internet shoppers are YouTube (13 percent), DealerRater (7 percent) and Facebook (5 percent).

Thirty-four percent of new-vehicle buyers using social media post a picture of their new vehicle on a social site. Of those, 88 percent will post to Facebook, followed by Instagram at 21 percent.

“Social media platforms aren’t as useful as automotive shopping websites for automotive information, but they do serve the needs of consumers for unbiased dealer reviews, affirmations from other vehicle owners, accessing automotive-related videos and exchanging ideas and opinions with friends and family members,” said Battaglia.

Auto shopping websites still reign

Traffic to auto shopping websites outpaces that to social media sites among internet car shoppers. The study found that more than nine out of 10 visit at least one automaker’s site during the shopping process, while 84 percent visit a dealer site and 79 percent visit a third-party site.

On average, internet shoppers visit 10 automotive websites in their shopping process: four automotive manufacturer websites, three third-party websites and three dealership websites.

The most frequently accessed content on automotive shopping websites is model information (89 percent), vehicle pricing (88 percent) and photo galleries (81 percent).

But automotive internet shoppers find different types of sites more useful for different reasons. For example, they find that automotive brand sites are most useful for their model information, vehicle configurators and photo galleries, whereas dealer websites are found to be most useful for inventory searches, and vehicle pricing and third-party sites are most useful for vehicle ratings/reviews and vehicle comparisons.

Other key findings:

— More than half (53 percent) of automotive internet shoppers use a mobile device. For 2016, smartphone usage surpasses tablet usage (37 percent versus 33 percent, respectively). The use of desktop or laptop computers remains most common at 92 percent, but has been decreasing from 99 percent in 2012. But the proportion of time spent shopping on mobile devices continues to increase, with 33 percent of the total shopping time now conducted on a mobile device.

— The three most frequently visited third-party sites have remained consistent since 2012 (listed alphabetically): Consumer Reports, and Kelley Blue Book. Among the 37 third-party websites measured in the study, TrueCar experiences the largest increase in site visitation for a second consecutive year.

The 2016 New Autoshopper Study is based on responses from 17,349 purchasers and lessees of new 2014 to 2016 model-year vehicles who used information gathered digitally during the shopping process. The study was fielded from February through June.