Tag Archives: livemarket

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.


3 real time carsales metrics


I’ve spent the best part of the past 18 years leveraging the power of data in the online classifieds space.

When you have millions of consumers searching and finding their next car on a country’s number 1 automotive portal like carsales, Encar, Chileautos or Webmotors, data can invariably tell thousands of stories.


Here’s a few powerful “real time” metrics that only a carsales is able to provide with any credibility in their respective country’s car retail market:

Supply and demand
The Days Supply metric is one of my favourites, as it provides real value and something more accurately in the used car market that I don’t think can be replicated. It shows whether supply outstrips demand and vice versa. The beauty of Days Supply is that it can be measured for makes, models, versions, etc and for different geographical regions.

So if you were say a Melbourne metropolitan new car Dealer and a buyer has a 2015 Mitsubishi ASX as a trade in, a vehicle your used car team knows little about. Wouldn’t it be great to know that this model is the most sought after vehicle in Melbourne from a supply and demand perspective for vehicles that are less than 8 years old, have less than 60,000 kms and an average asking price of over $20,000?

What this means is that in the past 60 days 116 were sold but there are only 29 for sale which gives a Days Supply metric of 15 meaning that supply of this model for sale will run out in 15 days. Supply and demand says this is a car you should stock (all things being equal with the acquisition price).

Using the carsales LiveMarket Stocking feature, here’s the hottest used vehicles in Melbourne at 27 July 2017 (using the parameters above).

This list can be a pretty handy shopping list and reference point for any used car dealer.

Whilst Days Supply has been in available in Australian Dealers for some time, it hasn’t been used extensively from a buying perspective whilst some of the most profitable used car operations in the US use this metric to make great buying decisions.

Competitive sets
What better way of knowing what the competitive set is of a model of a car than comparing the models a consumer is searching, viewing and enquiring on?

We see millions consumers searching and finding their next car. Most consumers do not what they are going to buy next when they start their car finding journey on carsales. We see them search, view cars, narrow the search, view more cars, save cars in their Membership and finally enquire on cars, usually more than one.

By analysing this activity, we can categorically provide the true competitive set of each model of car and more often than not, the true competitive set is a little (or a lot) different to what the OEM thought was the competitive set for most cars.

The beauty of these data sets is that is always being updated and available virtually real time meaning that fluctuations in any competitive sets is quickly seen, providing enormous value to any “always on” marketing campaign.

Brand loyalty
When a consumer puts an enquiry through on carsales, many include their trade-in details with the enquiry. This information gives us a real-time view on brand loyalty, before the car has been purchased! Post enquiry surveys can then provide another level and view on brand loyalty too.

Comparing the make of a car being enquired to the make of the trade-in vehicle nominated immediately gives us a picture of brand loyalty. If I am enquiring on a Toyota Landcruiser and in the enquiry I include my Land Rover Discovery 4 as a trade-in, I think there’s a pretty good chance that I am thinking of swapping my Disco for a Cruiser wouldn’t you think?

When I am surveyed about my experience on carsales and if I bought the car I enquired on, this then provides rock solid evidence towards the brand loyalty indicator.

Using this data, brand loyalty can be measured daily and is accurate as opposed to waiting for registration details or OEM surveys.

The take out
These metrics are just three of a plethora of such metrics that carsales, Encar, Chileautos and Webmotors has available to benefit OEMs and Dealers, whether it be for effective advertising, pricing, appraising or buying cars.


Leading in a Global World


Not everyone aspires to be a leader or sees themselves as a leader but I bet in some part of their lives they are leading the way – and are good at it.

I’ve said in other posts and I’ll say it again, I feel lucky that over the journey I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done and what I do.

My role as carsales Director International is multi faceted in that I am a leader in the carsales core business as part of the Executive Leadership Team, I am the leader of our International team and I get to be the leader of some great businesses in other countries.
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I used the word “leader” three times there; not to be egotistical, the word isn’t in my title or job description but because it is a part of my role that I consider the most important; and it is one I enjoy.

So what does a leader mean? No doubt you would have read a few posts defining leadership and comparing a leader to a manager. I see it as setting the vision, the strategy, coaching, being part of the team, making the tough calls, not always being right, listening and sharing your experiences.

Most of all it is about making the right connections with people. I’ve said it before that I inherently believe “people do business with people they like”. This includes the leader and doesn’t mean you don’t make tough decisions that aren’t going to please everyone; it does mean that you need to earn their respect in the process.

I “got out of the way” of the best players and let them play

Leading is something I have undertaken from a business perspective and in my football career. You’ve probably read about how leaders should “hire the best people and get out of their way” and I completely subscribe to that.
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When I first joined carsales I had the task of bringing our LiveMarket product to life. I really enjoyed the first few months of not having to lead a team or worry about anything but the task at hand. This didn’t last long as I soon found out that I really missed leading a company, leading a team. Now I get to lead multiple, diverse teams and enjoy the challenge!

From a football perspective I was never the best player (or second or even third best) in any side I played in but I was able to successfully lead sides from a very young age (senior playing coach at 26) by getting the respect of my team mates and leading by example. I also ensured I “got out of the way” of the best players and let them play.
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This is the way I approach it from a business perspective as well. For instance, we have a controlling interest in Soloautos in Mexico and Chileautos in Chile. The first part of leading these businesses is to get to know the people, understand them and develop a relationship with them. This is essential to be able to lead these businesses from Australia with our carsales International team showing great leadership in taking these businesses along the journey.

it’s not that we are smarter than you guys, we’ve just seen it before

Our two minority positions in Webmotors in Brazil and Encar in South Korea are not too much different because as strategic investors in these businesses, the people inside look to us to show leadership in best practices to accelerate the growth of their businesses.

As a strategic investor in these businesses, carsales is using its experience and intellectual property as leadership pillars but it is all wasted without “walking the walk” after “talking the talk”. As I have said many times to our global friends “it’s not that we are smarter than you guys, we’ve just seen it before”.

If we can’t lead the way with this as the cornerstone, we’re in a bit of trouble (just my opinion).


3 Pillars of Car Classifieds


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Chileautos, the newest member of the carsales family, has the tag line “Vehiculos en venta con fotographias” which translates in English to “Vehicles for sale with photos“.

It’s great now that we take it for granted that a car classified ad should have a photo(s) because when carsales started out, getting the car list and details from dealers was hard work let alone a photo!

For all the great advancements and features we have made on all our sites in adding the depth for sellers to sell and buyers to make their purchasing decisions a little easier (and safer), the fundamentals of selling online are still prudent and the cornerstone to selling online.

These are the 3 pillars of car classifieds:

1. Competitive Price

A competitive price doesn’t necessarily mean the cheapest but over-pricing a car waiting for a “wood duck” to come along is long gone. Buyers are more educated than ever with all the information at their fingertips so knowing where you fit in the competitive landscape is vital and where products such as Price Assist and LiveMarket can help ensure you are in the game from the outset.
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2. Lots of quality photos

One photo doesn’t cut it. Lots of quality photos showing all angles, inside and out to take as much of the guess work out of the process for the online buyer is the key. These photos also enable an automated video with sound over to be created further enhancing the consumer experience.
20160629_carsalesPhotos
3. Descriptive comments

Comments should be about the unique features the car has; this is where the seller can actually sell the car. Seems simple but too many times we see sellers failing to capitalise on the free text they have here to actually sell the car. From my experience, here’s what the different types of sellers generally put in their comments:

Franchised dealers – Generally put more emphasis on their dealership than the car in the comments; I hate to spoil the party but the buyer doesn’t care. Having the right car at the price is far more important so tell them about the car.
20160629_carsalesFranchisedComments
Independent dealers – This is where there is a bit of a mixed bag. The good ones generally make the effort to insert good quality comments about the car but then there are many that maybe insert a line or two (or nothing).
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Private sellers – Maybe it is because they are just selling one car (every 3-5 years) but they generally do a far better job than dealers in selling the car in the comments.
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These 3 pillars cannot be ignored and if nothing else is done, it is these 3 that must be done well.


Sales History Should Not Set Retail Pricing


Selling anything at retail seems like a pretty uncomplicated business doesn’t it? You acquire the product for a price and sell it for another price with the difference being your profit, right? Yes sort of. What about all the overheads involved in making that sale?

One of the overheads commonly forgotten is the daily cost of holding the stock. Some years ago I was with a car dealer as we were trying to promote our newly created LiveMarket product which gives the dealer a look at the competitive position of each of their used vehicles for sale using live market data.

“Paul this is a great product but….”


Once I was finished showing the product, the dealer to me “Paul this is a great product but you see that Landcruiser out there, I’m going to make $5,000 profit on it whether I sell it tomorrow or in 5 weeks time so I don’t need this”. I bet a lot of car dealers, or retailers of any sort for that matter, would think the same.
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His logic was that he didn’t have to alter the sell price based on the competitive market because eventually someone would come and pay that price. He had history to prove it. What he wasn’t factoring in was that that $5,000 profit he might get tomorrow wasn’t really worth $5,000 in 5 weeks time. What he also wasn’t counting on is the new Internet age where buyers have as much information and in most cases, more information than the seller (i.e. competitive information at their fingertips).

What if he could sell 4 of those Landcruisers at half the profit on each unit in that same 5 week period ($10,000 vs $5,000)? Which would he rather? It didn’t take long for the penny to drop.

The premise is that by using competitive live market data to buy and sell ensures you are in touch with the market at all times and not buying or selling using sales history or “your gut”. Pricing to sell promotes velocity and helps to ensure your holding costs don’t eat into your profits.


4 Data Driven Lessons



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LiveMarket brings a live market view to new and used vehicle management for car dealers to make smarter decisions when buying and selling cars.

The beauty of LiveMarket from a demo perspective is that the data is the dealer’s actual data and it is live; no canned demo data setup to prove a point.

I was with a used car manager of a franchised dealership showing carsales’ LiveMarket product a little while ago. As I dug a little into his inventory in LiveMarket I found an interesting stat. He was only selling from 60% of his inventory, the other 40% were all well over 180 days old.

…other 20 were just a drag on net profit…

So as far as the dealer principle (business owner) was concerned, the monthly units sold, gross and turn were coming from 50 used vehicles when in fact it was coming from just 30. The other 20 were just a drag on net profit as their holding costs keep stacking up.

“why would I change it and risk not making targets?”

I focused on this as I saw it as an opportunity for the used car manager to improve his business (and his standing in the business) by pricing to the market to improve velocity (sell from the entire inventory) and ultimately improve overall gross. I was wrong.

“I’m consistently meeting my sales and gross targets with the stock mix I have now, why would I change it and risk not making targets?”. Fair point.

What would the dealer principle, the owner of the business, want though? If he could see the used car mix through the lens we were looking at I know what he’d want and so did the used car manager!

The decision was made though. LiveMarket wasn’t for him. He was happy meeting his goals and didn’t want “extra work”.

I learnt four lessons from this process:

1. Giving a more complete picture of a business through data isn’t for everyone.

2. As a business owner you need to have the data to be completely across your business.

3. As a business owner you need to ensure the people you employee and trust are driven to run the business as if it was their own with the same goals you have.

4. Data doesn’t lie so you need to ensure you are selling the dream to the right person in the business (i.e. the person who will benefit the most from the data).

I’m sure we’ve all been there before.


I Love The Value Of Aggregated Data For Smart Business Decisions



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It is one thing to aggregate data. It is another to normalize, index, add depth and present in a way that save people and companies time and make money. Here’s an example of using aggregated data designed specifically to save its users time and make them money.

Some years ago I visited a car dealer to talk about our LiveMarket product. As we started to look at the product, he cut me off saying “all of this information is already available on carsales; every Monday morning I get my team together and we go through every one of our vehicles, see where it is positioned on carsales, adjust pricing if necessary, add comments, add photos and all that so we don’t need LiveMarket”.

I asked him how many people and how long this process takes him every Monday morning – “4-5 hours for 5 people” was the answer – No wonder they only do it once a week!
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By doing what they did each Monday morning, they had an obvious appreciation for competitive live market data so I showed him how LiveMarket can do exactly what they do every Monday (plus a whole lot more) in just 10 minutes, any day you want, any time you want for every one of your vehicles. He could see how each vehicle is positioned in the market using real time data and make real time changes to make selling easier and more profitable.

The penny dropped. Using LiveMarket to get an aggregated view of the competitive live market data has not only saved the dealer a lot of time, it has enabled them to sell better, increase velocity and be more profitable in the used car department.

I love the power and value of aggregated data for smart business decisions.


4 Important Milestones In Creating A Great Product


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Whilst I started as a developer I’ve never considered myself to be the traditional software developer. I’m not a tech head by any means and I don’t keep up to speed with the “latest and greatest”. By that I mean my focus has only been on the commercial outcome of a software product and sometimes that can upset those who want, what they consider, the perfect outcome.

A perfect example at carsales.com was the creation of the LiveMarket product and here are some important milestones in it’s creation:

Milestone 1. A product scope was developed with a lot depth and hundreds of features before development kicked off in earnest on what was thought to be a 7-9 month project.

Milestone 2. A little over 2 months into the development cycle the product was about 30% of the initial defined scope when it was put in front of the first car dealer who immediately saw the value and signed on the spot; not for a free trial, not even for a special discount price for being the first customer. The product had enough value even at 30% completion that it could command a premium price.

Milestone 3. Three months later, with now dozens of dealers signed up and still well short of the expected development time and feature set, the owner of a large franchised dealership sent the following message to the carsales CEO – “I have to let you know that livemarket.com.au is the smartest use of technology/information and market that I’ve ever seen (and I have been filling in as Used Car Mgr for two months). Brilliant. Well Done. Congrats.“. Now imagine if it was 100% finished!

Milestone 4. Fast forward some 6 plus years on and LiveMarket is a key component for hundreds and hundreds of Australian dealers buying and selling used cars yet the product scope for LiveMarket has still not been anywhere near 100% developed; not the original scope nor the expected scope creep and new ideas that inevitably come through. It never will be finished, can’t be.

So if the commercial owners had waited until 100% of the product scope was finished before releasing it to the market, theoretically it would still be in development and not an important part of the carsales’ dealer business.