Just about everyone who hits the Internet to shop and research a new or used car, which is about 80% of the population, will spin by a third-party auto shopping site. There are a lot of them, but it's a long-tail situation with a few big dogs like Edmunds.com, Cars.com, Kelley Blue Book, TrueCar, AutoTrader, and media hybrids like MSN Autos, and U.S. News Best Cars dominating. Which ones win? For one thing, the sites that aren't shy about putting video right up front are going to satisfy consumers, per J.D. Power & Associates, in its just-released review of what consumers like best about auto shopping sites.
In the new J.D. Power 2014 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study, over two-thirds of all auto shoppers say videos are important in their online vehicle shopping process. And videos become more important as shoppers get closer to purchasing a vehicle, with 35% of those within six months of purchase saying videos are “very important” vs. 20% of shoppers whose purchase is six months or more away. The importance of this feature is increasing: 48% of shoppers planning to purchase a vehicle during the next month say that videos are “very important” in helping them make their purchase decision compared with 36% in 2013, per the study.
Another finding is that among shoppers who use videos to help them choose vehicles, 28% want more videos that demonstrate specific features, while 26% say they want more videos that demonstrate vehicles in real-life use.
Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media & marketing at J.D. Power, said that demand for video doesn't preclude photos. “It's important for third-party Web sites to maintain the valuable content they provide through still shots and text that allow consumers to access detailed information, and then continue to engage them with video as they get deeper into the shopping process.”
Edmunds.com ranks highest in overall satisfaction in the January survey of 3,300 shoppers who indicate they will be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months. In the study, which measures the usefulness of third-party automotive Web sites based on information/content; navigation; appearance; and speed, Cars.com and U.S. News Best Cars come second and third. The others whose score is above the average are Kelley Blue Book, MSN Autos, Autobytel, and NADA guides. Below average are CarGurus, AutoTrader.com, AOL Autos, Yahoo! Autos, eBay Motors, Motor Trend and Internet Auto Guide.