Measuring Auto Vertical Websites


Most people accept that the number 1 player in each online classifieds vertical makes the money, number 2 can go alright and generally, good luck being number 3 or beyond.

Yes I am generalising but in most countries it’s not far off the mark, particularly in the automotive vertical. So the battle to prove you are number 1 in Listings and Traffic is paramount – all academic really as “you can’t bank wank”, as my former esteemed colleague would remind me (ie money talks, bullshit walks).

…it’s not surprising that almost without exception, every website monitored display the same traits…

Direct Traffic…generally can’t and doesn’t fluctuate materially from month to month but can be built or eroded over time whereas Paid Traffic can and does fluctuate as levers are pulled…

Some time ago I wrote an article asking Who has the No 1 Auto Classified Website in the World after I had developed an algorithm that enabled me to rank the traffic health of auto vertical websites around the world through an Auto Classifieds Traffic Health Index.

I did this because there are so many ways to measure auto vertical websites against each other – number of Listings, total traffic (Visits), Revenue, EBITDA, etc – and given there are inherent problems with each measurement, I needed a way to compare websites on more or less an equal footing.

Number of Listings is ok but the count on the website may not always be what it appears. Visits can be manufactured and not a true reflection on the sustainability of a website’s brand health through its Traffic Sources and User Engagement. Revenue and EBITDA are not always available (ie for unlisted businesses). Then there is comparing websites from country to country where the populations are different meaning Listings and Visits (or even Revenue and EBITDA) cannot be measured on a level playing field.

The factors that push Encar.com and Autoscout24.ch as the two leading websites by a fair way…..

The Auto Classifieds Traffic Health Index algorithm takes the User Engagement metrics of website along with the Traffic Marketing Sources (not all traffic sources are equal), applies an importance weighting factor to each metric individually (either positively or negatively depending on the metric) and calculates an Index value number.

After tweaking the Index and monitoring 86 auto classifieds websites from 38 countries over the past 20 odd months it’s not surprising that almost without exception, every website monitored display the same traits. When traffic that is not paid for is high, User Engagement is high and Bounce Rate low. When sources of traffic that is paid for is high, User Engagement is lower and Bounce Rate higher. There are next to no exceptions.

Total Traffic is not a factor for me (to an extent) as not all traffic source are equal and to protect the integrity of comparing websites between countries and regions (ie Brazil has strong regional players). In saying that, for the purposes of overall ranking, I exclude websites with relatively low monthly visits from rankings and I do value more traffic when doing an overall assessment. This takes the ranked number of websites down from 86 to 64.

The average Auto Classifieds Traffic Health Index score for May 2018 is 37, with 93 at the top and -23 at the bottom. A negative score is possible if a website has a high ratio of Paid Traffic which leads to a high Bounce Rate and lower User Engagement metrics and weights the Index down – 4 websites have a negative index score while another 1 has a zero score.

Here’s the top 10:
1 Encar.com, South Korea (owned by carsales.com) 93
2 Autoscout24.ch, Switzerland (Scout24) 91
3 Autotrader.co.uk, UK (LSE:AUTO) 79
4 Mobile.de, Germany (Private) 75
5 Gebrauchtwagen.at, Austria (Private) 71
6 Seminovosbh.com.br, Brazil (Private) 70
7 Tucarro.com.co, Colombia (Mercado Libre) 67
8 Sauto.cz, Czech Republic (Private) 64
9 Autoscout24.be, Belguim (Scout24) 63
10 Autoscout24.it, Italy (Scout24) 63

The factors that push Encar.com and Autoscout24.ch as the two leading websites by a fair way are high traffic source that are sourced organically, above average User Engagement, very low Bounce Rates and virtually no Paid Traffic. These factors epitomise a strong online Brand Health.

I don’t know a lot about the AutoScout24 group except that it has an impressive stable of auto vertical websites across Europe in terms of Brand health when measured by traffic. 8 of their websites are measured with 3 in the top 10 (see above). In addition there is Autoscout24.de (Germany) at 20, Autoscout24.at (Austria) at 22, Autoscout24.fr (France) at 25, Autoscout24.es (Spain) at 35 and Autoscout24.pl (Poland) at 43. All but Spain and Poland are more than comfortably above average.

Are each of the top 10 clear leaders in their respective countries? Yes they are except for Seminovosbh.com.br which is a regional website in Brazil typifying the Brazilian landscape where loyalties to local players remain, even online. Consumers parochial to regional automotive websites in Brazil resulting in high user engagement and positive traffic sources with others such as the Webmotors owned Blucarros.com.br, Joinvillecarros.com.br, Compreauto.com.br and Meucarango.com.br all with strong Index rankings (albeit under the monthly visits threshold I have set).

Autotrader.co.uk (3) and Mobile.de (4) are the clear traffic leaders from the top 10 in terms of Monthly Visits which, despite not wanting the amount of traffic to influence the ranking, shows how strong these businesses are in their respective countries.

Other websites of note in the rankings are:
11 carsales.com.au, Australia (carsales.com) 60
12 chileautos.cl, Chile (carsales.com) 59
16 Autohome.com.cn, China (NYSE:ATHM) 54
24 Autotrader.ca, Canada (Private Equity) 46
26 Autotrader.com, USA (Cox Automotive) 42
29 cars.com, USA (NASDAQ:CARS) 40
30 Webmotors.com.br, Brazil (carsales.com) 38
42 Cargurus.com, USA (NASDAQ:CARG) 29

It’s interesting watching the evolving nature of these websites and businesses month on month and year on year. For instance Direct Traffic, the most valuable traffic source, generally can’t and doesn’t fluctuate materially from month to month but can be built or eroded over time whereas Paid Traffic can and does fluctuate as levers are pulled or put away day by day, month by month.

Like anything, the Auto Classifieds Traffic Health Index is not perfect but it does give a view that is valuable on a number of fronts for peers, competitors and potential targets around the world.


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