Edmunds guarantees lease prices

Cobalt chief John Holt: Technology enables stores to customize what shoppers see when they visit a dealership or factory Web site.

Dealers offering vehicles on Edmunds.com can now offer guaranteed lease prices to shoppers in addition to guaranteed purchase prices.

A year ago, Edmunds.com, which attracts about 22 million unique visitors per month, launched its Price Promise. It allows subscribing dealers to provide guaranteed prices on a vehicle backed by a certificate that the shoppers can download and bring to the dealership.

Edmunds.com President Seth Berkowitz said 3,500 of the shopping site's 10,000 dealership subscribers today offer Price Promise.

Beginning this weekend, Edmunds.com is allowing Price Promise subscribers to add leasing at no additional charge, Berkowitz said. Participating dealers can offer shoppers a guaranteed monthly lease price by calculating down payment, deposit and mileage.

Berkowitz said that with about one in four vehicle buyers choosing leasing these days, the service is meant to help dealers sells more vehicles.

TrueCar Inc. pioneered the practice several years ago of allowing online shoppers to receive guaranteed prices from the site's participating dealers. TrueCar charges dealers $299 for each new vehicle sold through a TrueCar price guarantee, while Edmunds.com charges dealers a monthly subscription that averages about $1,000.

Edmunds.com also has begun working with Cobalt, the Web site and digital marketing arm of ADP Dealer Services, to share data on shopper behavior.

Their aim is to use cookie tracking technology so Cobalt's 9,000 participating dealerships can see what shoppers are looking for on Edmunds.com. Cookies are software planted on consumers' computers that allow companies and others to track their browsing.

Cookies allow dealerships to customize what those anonymous shoppers see when they come to a dealership or factory Web site, said Cobalt chief John Holt.

In other words, dealerships that know an individual shopper was looking for a Chevrolet Volt on Edmunds.com can, with Cobalt's latest Web site technology, serve up Volt specials and custom ads when that shopper lands on the dealership site.

The reverse also is envisioned, with Edmunds.com being able to use insights from the nearly 22 million visitors to Cobalt-managed Web sites to personalize the shopping experience for those coming to Edmunds.com, said Brian Terr, Edmunds.com vice president.

You can reach David Barkholz at dbarkholz@crain.com -- Follow David on Twitter: @barkholzatan



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