PriceGrabber Expands Autos Section for Used Car Listings

Toasters, stereo equipment — and your next ride? Consumers may think of Experian’s PriceGrabber.com mostly as a place to find deals on appliances or consumer electronics, but the comparison shopping engine is now broadening its two-year-old auto section, enabling dealers to place listings for used cars.

Auto ads on the site list phone numbers of dealers, allowing users to contact them directly without having to go through a registration process or divulge email addresses, which can sometimes scare off potential buyers.

“We thought the business models of a lot of our competitors weren’t as consumer-centric as they should be,” opined Darren Davis, business director of PriceGrabber Autos. “Customers want to be reached on their terms, not on the dealers’ terms, and smart dealers realize that.”

PriceGrabber.com is now offering pre-owned car dealers cost-per-click and cost-per-call listings. Dealers can place unlimited listings for a minimum of $500 each month plus $14.95 per sales lead. The site doesn’t allow individual owners to place used car listings on the site, however. On the subject of hosting for sale by owner listings, Davis commented, “We’re still working out the details.”

Paid listings advertisers are able to feature unlimited vehicle information, contact details and links to their own sites on full listings pages, along with up to 18 images. “We recognize the growing importance to drive traffic to [dealers’] own Web sites,” said Davis.

Users can refine searches according to criteria including year, make, model, price and distance from their location.

Consumers are increasingly using Web listings when seeking out used cars. According to a May 2006 J.D. Power and Associates report, the percentage of people finding their used cars through online classifieds has doubled from 8 percent in 2002 to 16 percent this year, while the percentage of people who have found a used car via print newspaper or magazine classifieds dropped from 14 percent in 2002 to 7 percent this year.

PriceGrabber’s new car search service operates through anonymous price requests; buyers are introduced to the seller making the best offer on a selected model. The site also features listings provided through dealer data feeds as well as HomeNet, The Cobalt Group, AutoBase.com, DiamondLot and DealerFusion.

PriceGrabber was acquired last year by consumer data firm Experian, which facilitates a lot of its dealer advertiser relationships, according to Davis, who noted that the PriceGrabber site garners 21 million unique visitors per month.

Though comparison shopping sites are often thought of as places to find the best prices on housewares, cameras or DVDs, PriceGrabber is hoping to change that. “We definitely have a challenge in overcoming the consumer perception as only a site for appliances and tech gadgets,” Davis admitted.

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