Is Dealer.com Corrupting Your Data?

Sep 22, 8:24AM, UPDATE: James Grace has contacted Wikimotive and shared findings with us: “We’ve tracked down the source of this issue to a 3rd Party Integration with Edmunds.com that was active on approximately 16% of our sites.  Edmunds pushed tracking code to these sites that was causing the Google session-ID to be overwritten with every “event” on the website, ultimately creating a new session for each event.  This dramatically increased direct traffic in these clients’ GA accounts.  We’ve deactivated these integrations across the Dealer.com platform and the issue has been resolved.  We will be communicating with Edmunds to discuss whether or not to reactivate the integrations.  Dealers with questions or concerns should reach out to their Dealer.com Digital Advisor.”

Thanks to James and his team for their efforts to bring transparency to the dealer community. The dialogue I’ve had with James gives me hope that there will be more transparency to come and that digital agency’s like Wikimotive will have better access to staff in a position to take action for the benefit of their dealer clients. Wikimotive will be meeting with James and his team next week to discuss other areas of concern regarding data integrity and 3rd party integration.

BREAKING Sep 21, 2:16pm: James Grace, Sr. Director of Analytics at Dealer.com has contacted Wikimotive and is looking in to this issue as well as original potential causes. We have a tentative meeting scheduled to discuss this as well as other data concerns for improving analytics data quality at dealer.com. See future article to follow.

FINAL UPDATE, SEP 21, 10:23AM: AT THIS TIME WE CAN CONFIRM THE ISSUE HAS BEEN RESOLVED. DDC IS NOT ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THIS AFFECTED MULTIPLE WEBSITES. WE ATTRIBUTE THE ISSUE AS A SERVER/PERFORMANCE ISSUE.

Yesterday we were measuring site load times in excess of 50 seconds. Today we are measuring them at just above 10 seconds fully loaded. At this time we consider this resolved, however you should check for this issue if you are observing slower than normal site load times.

IMPORTANT: DDC IS NOT ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THIS ISSUE IS AFFECTING THE PLATFORM GLOBALLY OR TO ANY DEGREE OUTSIDE INDIVIDUAL INSTANCES. THEY ARE NOT TAKING ACTION TO TROUBLE SHOOT THIS ON OTHER WEBSITES. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE AN ISSUE YOU WILL NEED TO CONTACT DEALER.COM DIRECTLY!

SEP 21, 9:19AM, UPDATE:DEALER.COM CLAIMS THIS ONLY AFFECTED A SINGLE SITE AND WAS DUE TO A ABD IMPLEMENTATION OF GOOGLE ANALYTICS. THEY CLAIMED THE ISSUE IS RESOLVED, HOWEVER WE STILL SEE THIS ISSUE OCCURRING.  IT APPEARS THAT DDC HAS REBOOTED ONE OR SEVERAL SERVERS. THIS IS UNCONFIRMED. WE STILL SEE THIS ISSUE AFFECT SOME SITES WITH INTER-MITTEN REGULARITY – MORE NOTICEABLE WHEN WE OBSERVE WEBSITE FUNCTIONING SLOWER THAN NORMAL (IF YOU NOTICE YOUR WEBSITE LAGGING OR LOADING SLOWLY, YOU SHOULD CHECK FOR THIS ISSUE). OTHER SITES ARE STILL TRIGGERING THIS ISSUE ON EVERY SESSION REGARDLESS OF SPEED – THIS SEEMS LESS REGULAR.

12:23PM EDT, LATEST UPDATE: THIS ISSUE DOES AFFECT CHROME BROWSERS BUT IT IS LESS CONSISTENT WHEREAS IT CONSISTENTLY HAPPENS ON ALL OTHER WEB BROWSERS INCLUDING CHROME AND SAFARI IN MOBILE. THIS WILL LIKELY DIRECTLY AFFECT YOU AND YOU SHOULD TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY.

UPDATE: THIS MAY ONLY AFFECT SAFARI & INTERNET EXPLORER BROWSERS. MORE UPDATES TO FOLLOW.

 

Today at Wikimotive, we found an interesting development regarding analytics on Dealer.com websites while reviewing a client’s data. We noticed a 767.32% increase in their direct traffic, seemingly, overnight. At first we thought maybe a rogue email campaign was generating bot traffic, but instead we found something a bit more surprising.  You can see this happen for yourself using the realtime tool in Google Analytics.

Search your dealership name and click the result which will take you to your homepage. From there, navigate to new (or used) inventory. Next, filter your results by make, model, body style or any available filter option. Once your filter is applied you will notice that your organic session has ended and you are now listed as a new direct session.

If you continue to refine filter options your direct session will bounce and a new direct session will be created. This is very concerning as the level of data corruption can be significant depending on user behavior. If your store’s IP is not filtered from your view and your sales people use your website to show different vehicles to customers in the showroom this will create substantial additional traffic that never really existed. In the most extreme case we found, one dealer went from 921 new (direct) users for 3,309 (direct) sessions  to 7,988 new (direct) users and 10,435 (direct) sessions in just 30 days.

Worse still, this will impact all session data from other sources. If your referral traffic filters inventory that session data is lost form that point forward. If they visit multiple VDPs or other pages and submit a lead it will be sourced as direct instead of the true originating source – same for Organic, or any other traffic source. This has far reaching consequences and should be corrected swiftly.

I have confirmed that this was not a one off by testing this on multiple brands across multiple dealers. I would strongly urge that if your website is provided by dealer.com, that you reach out immediately and find out what they are doing to correct this. We have contacted dealer.com about this issue for our clients, but have not yet received a response.

Tell us what you find! Are you seeing the same thing? Did you have different findings? Be sure to check multiple browsers and check mobile vs desktop!

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