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Internet overtakes print advertising as top used-vehicle shopping source

November 22, 2010

The Internet now draws more late-model, used-vehicle shoppers to the vehicles they buy than traditional newspaper and magazine classified ads combined, according to a new J.D. Power and Associates study.


"Online advertising, including classified ads, auctions and other leads have overtaken print, and it is very likely to remain that way," said Dennis Galbraith of J.D. Power. "Shoppers tend to go where the inventory can be found, and advertisers place their inventory where the shoppers can be found. Market share brings a barrier to entry in the used-vehicle classified market.


"It is clear that online classified ad services such as ( have broken through those walls by gaining the necessary market share. There is little reason to expect anything but continued growth in online classified services at the expense of print."


While the percentage of used-vehicle buyers using the Internet in their shopping process has remained relatively flat (53%), the Internet continues to grow in its ability to impact the shopping decisions of those who avail themselves of the medium. Among all buyers, nearly one-fourth (24.3%) are impacted in their seller selection decision by information found online, up from 22.5 percent in 2004.


According to the 2005 Used Study, manufacturer Web sites also are becoming increasingly important. While 90 percent of Automotive Internet Users still visit independent sites such as Kelley Blue Book’s or Yahoo! Autos, 74 percent visit a manufacturer-sponsored site such as or to look for used vehicles, up from 70 percent in 2004.


"Manufacturers have a vested interest in making sure their dealers are able to sell pre-owned vehicles quickly, and they are getting increasingly serious about it," said Galbraith. "The better these vehicles are marketed, the faster the inventory turns and the higher the residual values and the lower the depreciation. This helps new-vehicle buyers with lower lease rates and better trade-in values."


Dealer sites play a vital role in online shopping. More than one-half (52%) of all shoppers who credit the Internet with leading them to the vehicle they purchased indicate a dealer site as the primary online source. About one-half of these shoppers state that an independent site, manufacturer site or search engine directed them to the dealer’s site where they found the vehicle they purchased.


Internet use is expected to grow as new technology makes shopping online simpler and easier.