Case Study: AutoTrader.com

Creating an Online Juggernaut

In 1996 during the early days of the internet Ascension consultants were engaged by Cox Communications and ADP – two companies with significant businesses focused on auto dealers across the USA. While Cox ran the multi-billion dollar network of Manheim automotive auction houses ADP boasted a dominant auto dealer inventory management system.

…the resulting business has become the online leader in the pre-owned digital automotive space.

Both companies saw the looming potential of the internet and formed a joint venture to figure out how to leverage the online experience to the financial benefit of their automotive dealer customers…and themselves. Initially called AutoConnect then renamed AutoTrader.com the resulting business has become the largest digital marketplace for pre-owned automobiles.

Ascension consultants were part of the original 5 person development team at Cox working with executives at joint venture partner ADP. Ascension developed and implemented custom research plus one-on-one interviews with auto dealer principals to understand their use of and receptivity to the internet.

The goal was to gauge automotive dealer willingness to place their pre-owned inventory on the new AutoTrader.com site given pre-owned cars would become the main inventory available from the service.

Ascension work proved seminal and the resulting business model supported the robust national launch of AutoTrader.com – an automotive digital marketplace that today boasts over 3.5 million online listings, 15 million unique visitors/month, and over 25,000 dealer partners.

AutoTrader.com has become the ultimate automotive marketplace and with the acquisition of Kelly Blue Book a complete consumer informational resource.