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What’s worth it on third party listing sites?

Third party listing sites offer a lot of products and packages that a dealer could invest in. I’ve been pitched more than a few of these, and have bought more than a few. Here is a basic idea of what I felt works, why it might work, and what I feel doesn’t work. Done mostly without naming names, too!

Area takeovers

I’ve seen this advertisement called a lot of things, including Alpha (for some reason?). An area takeover generally involves showing an image and offer from your dealership to people searching from a particular spot after they enter their search on a third party listing site.

For example, once you click the buttons that involve you wanting to search for a 2023 Ford F-150, an ad could pop up before you see search results from a local, or even nonlocal dealer wanting to compete in the area.

These ads can be worth it if your CRM or sales reports are indicating that another dealer is starting to sell more cares on your backyard – or the opposite and you want to try and take from another dealer.

VDP Deep Linking

I find this one tough to deal with, but for the right price it can be worth it. In case the name isn’t clear, VDP deep linking means that the customer who is on a third party listing site is taken to a vehicle detail page on your website instead.

In my opinion, suddenly taking a user from one site to another is a bit unexpected – which is ironic because that what most dealers want in terms of “buying” traffic from another site. It’s just a little jarring.

If you try VDP deep linking, keep a close eye on the engagement rate of customers headed to your site from your third party listing site and see if they stay on the site long.


Most third party listing sites don’t call remarketing by its proper name – it’s often packaged as “360” or something like that. The motivation behind remarketing is to show banner ads for your dealership to either people who have seen your dealership on a third party site, or on your site.

Some also have made it possible to remarket to people on a third party listing website without actually paying for listings there – kind of like getting their traffic without showing your cars.

I always like remarketing, personally. The question here is – how much? Most dealerships I work with spend


As far as I know, this is AutoTrader only though it could be a new product on other sites too. Spotlights let you get closer to first place on select vehicles. These can be very worthwhile on vehicles that are either priced right or rare. Plus, per the rules of a couple of years ago, you can simply flip a spotlight to another vehicle once its sold.

I would say spotlights are overall the most flexible – and in most cases, you get a whole system and tool to help you decide which cars to use spotlights on.


To be honest, if you signed up for a third party listing site like AutoTrader or, they use tiers to sort which vehicles customers see first. If you signed up and aren’t in the premium tier, it is probably not worth trying, to be honest. The only solution is the creative and strategic deployment of spotlights to get into a higher tier.

So, yes, higher tiers are practically required.


Most dealers rely on third party listings to some extent to drive business to their store. While some products within third party listing sites are crucial, others depend on your stores situation and what you are willing to pay.

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Ben Stewart
Ben Stewart
Ben is a contributing writer and reporter for CBT News with 10 years of dealership experience in automotive marketing. Ben loves all things cars and putting together strategies that help dealerships succeed.

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