AutoTrader will launch a national advertising campaign this month that touts a service that guarantees a used vehicle's trade-in price at a local dealership.
The national campaign's budget for Trade-In Marketplace will be about $10 million, out of AutoTrader's total 2011 ad spending of $120 million. The 60-second TV spot describes how the site handles the most awkward step of a vehicle transaction, setting a trade-in price, with a voiceover by actor Christian Slater.
AutoTrader has about 11,000 dealers who use its vehicle-listing service, but only 1,200 are part of Trade-In Marketplace, in which a consumer evaluates his own used vehicle and gets a trade-in price guaranteed by AutoTrader and participating dealers, said AutoTrader CEO Chip Perry.
Trade-In Marketplace was launched nationwide in October and processes 100,000 price offers a month, of which 22 percent are redeemed within 72 hours. Another 17 percent are "refreshed" and redeemed later. Of those trade-ins, 70 percent are trades for another car, while the rest are liquidations.
Perry expects those site-traffic numbers to soar once the "firehose" of 10 million consumers who use Kelley Blue Book - which AutoTrader acquired in October - start using a link from the Kelley site.
"It helps the consumer become more realistic about the value of their car," Perry said. "The commercial shows the meat-and-potato benefit to the consumer."
Much of AutoTrader's ad budget will be used on TV during the NCAA basketball tournament and deep into the college football season, in addition to online ads, Perry said.
"We're not shy about marketing our value proposition," he said. "We're going to be everywhere people are shopping for cars online and broadly enough visible offline that AutoTrader remains a household name."
In the past two years, Perry said, unaided awareness of AutoTrader has risen to 45 percent of those surveyed, from 35 percent.