Driving more leads to retailers

Introducing exciting changes to search

One in three car buyers would have bought their car sooner if the process were easier1. Over the coming months we'll be introducing a series of changes to improve car buying in the UK. We have exciting plans to support this, starting with a new, relevance-based search sort order. Below we explain why we're making this change, what it means for you, and our best practice guide to help you create adverts that perform.

1 Auto Trader Car Buyers Report 2019

Search webinar – watch on demand

If you missed our latest webinar, we discussed the new search improvements at length and answered all your questions, catch up on demand now.

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A new sort order in search

The first improvement, launching on the 19th August, is an exciting new relevance-based search sort order. This moves away from our current price low-high search sort order and brings in a new relevance-based approach, saving car buyers time by showing search results more relevant to them. Not only is this great news for car buyers, but it is designed to deliver retailers more engaged buyers, quicker; in testing the total number of leads delivered to retailers increased by 10%.2

Right car, right price.

We're upgrading our search sort order, so you no longer need the cheapest vehicles to get ahead. We know buyers are more likely to buy great vehicles from great dealers. That's why we're prioritising ads that are high quality and most relevant to your customers—rather than just being the cheapest.

Priority for quality.

We're introducing a relevance-based sort order to shift the priority away from 'lowest price first' and focus on the quality and relevance of your ads instead.

Delivering more leads.

In testing, the total number of leads delivered to retailers increased by 10%2. We also saw an increase in map views, location clicks, Auto Trader account ‘saves’ and website clicks. By focusing our search on the quality and relevance of your ads, we're confident you'll be able to find the right customers with the right vehicle faster than ever before.

2 Total increase in leads for contract customers based on a test of 5% of our users vs a control sample during the period of 22nd March to 17th April 2019. Leads are defined as email enquiries, calls and live chats. Your results may vary.

Our customer promise

Everything we do is designed to make car buying easier and help connect the right buyers to the right vehicles as easily and quickly as possible. We're focused on driving more connections for retailers and on achieving three key customer promises:


Giving car buyers confidence in the vehicle, the retailer they are buying from and the price of the vehicle.


Making car buying easier by showing relevant results and useful information upfront to car buyers. Helping connect them to the right vehicle, from the right retailer, delivering you meaningful customer connections and not questions.


Giving car buyers the information they need to feel confident in their buying decision.


How to make these changes work for you

There is no secret formula, simply follow the best practice we've always promoted. We see growing numbers of retailers operating this way so it's more important than ever to implement this best practice in your business. There are four key areas to focus on, which are all detailed in our best practice guide.

Buy stock wisely

Sourcing the right vehicles for your forecourt

Make your car the star

Simple ways to improve your ad quality

Price to market

Pricing your vehicles just right, for optimum speed of sale

Let buyers do the talking

Use reviews to build trust in your business

Coming soon…

This and other changes we'll be making over the coming months all support the three pillars of our customer promise. Our next focus area will be improving the full-page advert to provide customers with all the information they need to make a buying decision.



​There isn't a simplistic check-list, or rules involving image counts, or any checking whether fields are populated. Instead, by leveraging our data science capability, we have built a machine learning algorithm which allows our consumer audience to tell us what quality is, rather than us coming up with an arbitrary set of rules.

Our consumers combined spend almost a millennium on our platforms every month, performing an average of over 4500 searches every minute. This unique volume of insight allows us to produce a true measure of advert quality and engagement, which can't be fooled with placeholder images or other tricks.​

Relevance​ is about us using our consumer insights to help connect consumers to vehicles they may be interested in purchasing.

​It's always been critical for retailers to buy the right stock for the market they operate in. Other than this, there's nothing for retailers to do to optimise or improve their response.

Yes, the benefits gained from your Auto Trader package will remain unchanged. Packages determine your visibility in search based on tiers. This update will only affect the sort order within those tiers.

Paid prominence products such as standard, advanced and premium packages or our Lead Gen (Pay per Click) product will retain their positioning in search results as they are calculated independently of regular search results.

By following our advertising best practice guidelines such as those set out in our latest guide, you'll be set to benefit most from the latest update.

The new sort order will apply to cars only initially, other channels may follow.

The "new" tab will remain unaffected, however within the "all" tab, any new cars will be mixed with used and the new sort order applied, rather than price low to high.

Search by monthly price for new vehicles will continue to be ordered by lowest monthly price. We will keep you informed if we plan any changes to this.

There is nothing in the algorithm that discriminates against any type of customer, it's all about quality and relevance.

The algorithm includes factors that indicate a likelihood a user will interact with your advert, so we show more relevant adverts. Our new best practice guide gives you pointers to optimise your adverts.

They were additional leads that were the result of doing a better job of connecting consumers with the adverts they were willing to purchase. In testing the number of leads delivered to retailers increased by 10% in total for the 5% of users tested compared to a control sample.

More than ever! Price will still play a big role, but you can now price to market without fear of a lower priced vehicle appearing first based just on price.

Due to the complexity of criteria you can specify when searching for a car, it's unlikely that your ads would appear on page one all the time. The new sort order will help your ads to rank highly for relevant searches for your vehicle.

There are several potential reasons why a competitor's ads are performing better than yours. In terms of the sort order update, it's likely that your competitor's ads are either more relevant to the search in question or of a higher quality than your own. Our latest guide on advertising best practice will give you guidance on how to maximise your adverts performance in search results.