Third-party lead providers have built multi-billion dollar empires by providing valuable services to customers. These companies, including Cars.com, Car Fax, TrueCar, and Edmunds all provide tools that an individual dealership can’t possibly hope to provide consumers, for both technological and competitive reasons.
But these services are also built on the backs of dealerships, on which they rely on for content and income. That would make one think there’d be some loyalty and consideration toward dealers.
The More Car Buyers Use Third-Party Sites, the More Dealers Have to Rely on Them
However, instead of loyalty, dealers are constantly demonized by third-party lead providers, who hope to gain consumer confidence and market share from their own competitors. They want more car buyers to skip window shopping and researching on individual dealer websites (or worse, buying a car online completely) and shop through them so they can charge dealers more money to buy business that should have already been theirs to begin with.
And because profits are consistently going down, funneled to other sources, dealers feel they can’t afford to take on a service like automotive SEO or social media marketing.
This demonization of dealers was most recently seen in a commercial from Edmunds, in which the company compared car price negotiating to haggling for groceries. In the commercial, a supermarket clerk tried to talk customers into paying more for items like milk, bread, and eggs. The customers’ reactions were of course negative.
After dealers got wind of the commercial, Edmunds received a lot of cancellation requests from groups unhappy with the ad’s message. The company said in a statement that it did not mean to reinforce dealer stereotypes, and that the ad was an attempt at humor. At first, they stuck to the message, but ended up deleting the video from YouTube.
Lead Providers Want Customers to Distrust Dealers
Unfortunately, this commercial is just a recent part of a long trend of ads from third-party lead providers that insult dealers in order to insert themselves as the trusted middleman in the car-buying process. It’s clear that these businesses don’t really care about car dealerships and actually want to perpetuate the old dealership stereotype.
Below, I’ve embedded a few of the ads that blatantly prove this point.
Edmunds’ most recent ad is an example of one of the worst, but each hint at the idea that dealerships can’t be trusted. Again, these are companies that are worth billions. They bring in millions of dollars each year from dealers across the country. Without dealer support, these companies would not exist.
If you’re a dealer and you’re having a hard time justifying the cost of leads that convert less and less as time goes on, this is where your money is going: