What’s Really Happening On Your Dealership’s 3rd Party Listings (And How To Stop It)

Jun 29, 2017 | Digital Marketing, Sales and BDC

How valuable are 3rd party leads to your dealership? Whether you think dealers need 3rd party sites or not, I’ll wager you value ANY lead you’re paying good money for. But what if those leads were being “stolen” right from under your nose? Here’s what you ought to know about the 3rd party sites your dealership is using (and how to put a stop to it).

Do Third Party Leads Work For Auto Dealers?

We all know about the love-hate relationship between dealers and 3rd party lead providers.

With articles like “Third-Party Lead Providers: Friend or Foe?” and “Third Party Automotive Leads Are Like Tainted Wine,” it’s clear dealers still aren’t 100% sure if 3rd party leads work for their dealerships.

As the digital landscape expands, most dealers need 3rd party sites to at least stay competitive and visible online.

But recently, as I was browsing 3rd party sites to grab insights for our latest webinar, I realized:

There’s Something Pretty Alarming Taking Place On Most 3rd Party Sites

I’m not a user-experience expert. Nor do I know what your store really wants in a 3rd party provider.

But as I “played the customer” and searched for different vehicles to test 3rd party sites for myself, I noticed something was off:

There were ads everywhere.

And not local dealer ads (YOUR ads).

These sites were flooded with ads from tier one, tier two, and worse, other local dealer’s ads.

Chances are, ads on these sites don’t really bother In-Market Auto Shoppers. Ads are typical—even expected—no matter where shoppers are browsing.

But as an advocate for dealerships, ads that don’t benefit YOUR store – on YOUR own vehicle listings – straight up make my blood boil.

What Another Ad On A 3rd Party Site Could Mean For Your Dealership

Let’s walk through a scenario:

Jim is In-Market for a Toyota Tacoma. The first place he turns is the Internet because he wants to see what his options are BEFORE making a hasty purchase decision.

(Still not convinced that your inventory needs to be online? Read this article: “Dealers, Stop Trying To Bring Customers To Your Dealerships.” Love, Digital Dealer 22)

Since 60% of vehicle shoppers consult 3rd party sites, Jim visits www.cars.com, fills out the search fields and…

VOILA – 47 vehicles match his search.

He then clicks the one that’s exactly what he’s looking for (a vehicle sitting on YOUR lot), when all the sudden…


Another dealer’s ad picks up his keyword search and competitively targets Jim.

The ad not only grabs his attention and makes him think twice about YOUR post…

…one click later, Jim has left your vehicle post and is finishing his vehicle search on your competitor’s website.


I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what makes this okay.

The 3rd party site that you just paid good $$ for, let someone else steal your lead before any of Jim’s information was ever captured.

Crazy, right?

So while dealerships may need 3rd party sites…I have to ask you:

Are 3rd party sites really working in dealerships’ best interests?

Why Other Ads On 3rd Party Sites Bother Me (And Should Bother You, Too)

I can’t help but think of the thousands of dollars dealers spend to advertise monthly on these 3rd party sites.

In fact, according to an article in Auto Dealer Monthly, “For many dealerships, third-party sites are their biggest online ad spend; in some cases, it may be the only form of paid online advertising they engage in.”

Autotrader found that 3rd parties rake in the most attention from all vehicle buyers online—over dealer sites, OEM sites, and search.

To think that those dollars are being be spent only to have a consumer distracted at the most key moment of the buyer journey is just plain WRONG.

These 3rd party vendors may have vehicle shoppers, OEMs, and their own ad revenues in mind…

…but what about you? The dealer (their customer)?

Is There A 3rd Party Site Out There That Won’t Jeopardize Your Leads (And Your Budget)?

The short answer: yes.

With the amount of money you’re shelling out to advertise on sites like Autotrader, cars.com, and Edmunds (just to name a few), it doesn’t seem right that other local dealers or tiers can claim space on your listings.

That’s why everyone on the DU Team favors one 3rd party site in particular…

…and despite it’s website design from the 90s, crowded search result pages, and “classifieds section” nature…

This is one of the only 3rd party listing sites we’ve found that wouldn’t DARE show another dealer’s ads on your vehicle post.

And we think that’s pretty important.

I’m talking about Craigslist.

Want To Stop Ads From Showing On Your 3rd Party Listings? Get On Craigslist.

We’ve all been to Craigslist.

Even if it was just to buy a piece of furniture, surely you know what I’m talking about when I say it’s the one site on the Internet that looks like it hasn’t been updated since it was founded in 1995.

But despite its lackluster appearance, you may remember that Craigslist doesn’t serve external ads.

It’s a site solely dedicated to helping shoppers find the products they’re searching for, like used vehicles. Without distractions.

PRO TIP: Craigslist’s outdated design is the reason why optimizing your posts to rank higher in the Craigslist SRP is absolutely crucial. Get our ULTIMATE CRAIGSLIST TEMPLATE now to get the exact blueprint we use to create high converting Craigslist posts!

When it comes to dealer ads, it puts your inventory in front of low funnel, READY-TO-BUY shoppers…with ZERO external ads.

Thanks to the platform’s simplicity, you can advertise your vehicles worry-free, knowing your listings will drive more quality leads exactly where you want them: straight to your BDC phones.

And, when comparing it to the other platforms out there, advertising on Craigslist is relatively inexpensive – and effective.

READ THIS NEXT: Your Dealership’s Survival Guide To Craigslist

Did you know? The average Craigslist lead closes at 12% compared to other 3rd party site which come in at a mere 5%, and the average vehicle listed is priced at $13,500.

Wrap Up – Don’t Want Other Ads On Your Listings? Try Craigslist.

The reality is, I know you’re not going to completely throw in the towel on the big 3rd party sites.

Let’s face it, you need to be there to keep your inventory visible online. I get it.

When it comes down to using 3rd party listings to move your inventory, my advice to you is this:

Keep it simple, keep it fast, and keep it in the best interest of your dealership.

(Three things that Craigslist does really well.)

According to an article on DrivingSales, “The majority of dealers today do not have the internal staff required to maximize their online marketing opportunities. Every dealer however, has to make their own choices on what is working in their local market.”

Craigslist as a locally-driven platform is truly a win-win, and is incredibly underutilized for franchise and independent dealers alike.

That means right now you have a unique opportunity to use it to your advantage, before your competition does.

And with Craigslist’s low price per post and solutions that automatically post your trending inventory at peak times, what do you have to lose?

Blog Author - Cara Lane

Written By Cara Lane
Cara's hybrid love for marketing and sales has made her our beloved Inbound Marketing Manager here at Dealers United. Outside the office, she's busy doing mom things, like chasing her kids around the playground and sipping lots (and lots) of wine!

Who is Dealers United?

Dealers United is a game-changing automotive company dedicated to helping auto dealers improve their dealerships. We have helped over 6,500 dealers nationwide cut costs, save time, and sell more cars.

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