Why Edmunds Decided To Share Its Data With Car Advertisers

Krux Edmunds DataEdmunds used to keep its car shopper and owner data close to its chest. But at the beginning of this year, Edmunds opened its audience segments to its most valued car advertisers.

The company used to sell inventory based on context, but now it’s shifting to an audience model, said Edmunds CEO Avi Steinlauf.

This change allows auto manufacturers to buy, say, in-market truck shoppers both on and off Edmunds’ site. Those advertisers can meld their first-party data with the shopper information provided through Edmunds’ Krux-powered data-management platform to further segment and target ads.

Only select advertisers who spend above a certain threshold on Edmunds.com will be able to use Edmunds’ data off-site. Eight original equipment manufacturers [OEMs] signed on to test. More OEMs and non-OEM partners will join in using the data later this year.

The move will solve a longstanding problem for Edmunds: It has more demand for its inventory than supply. Edmunds sells its inventory on a yearly upfront basis. It charges high CPMs and sells out because of the strength of its audience: 59% of all car buyers browse Edmunds before purchasing, and half of all Edmunds users buy a car, according to Datalogix.

Edmunds initially tested audience-based buys on its site.

“We were hearing so much good feedback from our customers, who were seeing the performance and efficiency of our behaviorally targeted products,” said Stephen Felisan, VP of engineering and operations for Edmunds. “We only had a couple of [these products] on our own site, and we wanted to do it in a bigger way.”

Advertisers had clamored for access to Edmunds’ data, but the publisher had concerns about sharing its “crown jewels,” Steinlauf said, “the audience it painstakingly built over 20 years’ time.”

Edmunds’ Krux DMP lets advertisers lease data in a way that controls how the data gets out. “It’s given us a high confidence in the data integrity,” Steinlauf said. “We worked closely with them to understand there’s no monkey business. That was a huge part of the decision.”

Edmunds hopes to further mitigate data leakage – and add value – by limiting its use. “We’re not providing our data ubiquitously to every marketer out there,” Felisan said. “One big reason is that the more data is used, the less value it has to the client using the data. We’re only sharing it with our best customers.”

Off-site, advertisers will pay a CPM fee in order to use Edmunds’ data for audience extension. Its early adopter customers will buy media themselves using Krux’s data management platform to access Edmunds’ data. Eventually, Edmunds plans to offer these extension capabilities in-house, so advertisers can have a one-stop solution.

Advertisers will be able to target people outside of the short window before a purchase. Instead of reaching only active car shoppers on Edmunds.com, advertisers can explore campaigns that span greater parts of the consumer life cycle.

“A lot of people thought they’d use this data for their retention strategies, but it opens up other possibilities for conquesting that maybe they didn’t think about,” Felisan said. Plus, “this data can enable more relevant pages when they are on the website, so they’re thinking about using it for their own site personalization efforts.”

The ability to combine first-party data with Edmunds data will enable richer attribution. “If you have a database of 100,000 Ford F-150 customers who have purchased, and you see those people are now tagged with the Edmunds F-150 shopper segment, then you can attribute Edmunds as a big part of the reason they purchased that vehicle,” Felisan said.

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