Does Carvana Actually Sell For Less, Unhelpful Content Purge, Going To the Moon

August 29, 2022
We’re set to take off this Monday with some investigative journalism around Carvana’s claims, Google gets very helpful in their recent search update, and the US is going back to the moon (ish) today.
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We’re set to take off this Monday with some investigative journalism around Carvana’s claims, Google gets very helpful in their recent search update, and the US is going back to the moon (ish) today.

  • Does Carvana really sell for lower prices as stated? Forbes contributor, Jeremy Alicandri has a very hard time finding any proof
  • By visiting the WayBackMachine website, I was able to recover deleted content (shown below) from Carvana’s website that promised shoppers an average savings of $2,199 for each vehicle purchased from its site. The content also stated that Carvana saved its customers over $130 million versus traditional car dealers, a number that represented the accumulated savings for all sold vehicles since 2016.
  • Carvana cites KBB as a source in the fine print, so Jeremy reached out and received a statement saying that KBB could not endorse the accuracy as there was a major internal calculation as a basis for the claim. Carvana did not respond to request
  • He scoured public financials from Carvana’s reports finding higher profits per vehicle then dealers
  • Turned to VINCUE to study pricing and their algorithm found Carvanas prices higher than dealers 72% of the time
  • Regarding financing, Carvana claims to give customers lower rates, however, on average from 2018-2021 Carvanas rate was 13.41% vs Dealers 8.76%

Google’s latest update targets ‘unhelpful content’ by steering users away from it. It’s called “the helpful content update” and will reward content creators who take a “people first approach”

  • Good qualities for ‘people first’ include:
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they've had a satisfying experience?
  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
  • Bad qualities for ‘people first’ include:
  • Creating content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
  • Are you writing to a particular word count because you've heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don't)

NASA’s Artemis 1 SLS Megarocket is heading to the moon and back starting today as the preparations to send humans back to the moon takes another step forward

  • Launch window between 8:33a and 10:33a EST today from Kennedy Space Center in Coco Beach FL.
  • Special appearances at the launch include  Jack Black, Chris Evans, and Keke Palmer as well as a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Josh Groban and Herbie Hancock

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Kyle Mountsier, Paul Daly

Paul Daly  00:00

Hello Yo, what is up? It is Monday, we got a little Monday, swagger, lotta energy this week, we got some real news for you today, we always have real news talking about Carvanha selling cars for less really a data purge and we're going to the moon over not going to the moon. Or, or we're not going to the road, they stopped

Kyle Mountsier  00:39

talking about that just to not roll fake news. That's the that's a that's a primary goal of ours. Real News, Real News. So do

Paul Daly  00:50

Kyle. Except for

Kyle Mountsier  00:51

that one time we do the thing about the BMW heated seats and everyone was like me. thing. And then it was like, Yeah, like that. But yeah, hey, look, we were just, we were just talking about things that everybody talks about. So it's like, Hey, we're gonna make news.

Paul Daly  01:07

I don't know, if we talked about everything other people talk about. There's a lot of things we don't talk about on this show. There's a lot that we don't talk about, we're gonna release a show when we're both retired, and we both have nothing to lose, and we're gonna, it's gonna be called things we don't talk about. And then we're just gonna just just kick ourselves out of the whole industry in one fell swoop

Kyle Mountsier  01:26

in one fell swoop. Now, you know, now everybody knows what the real plan is, hey, I've got an announcement just so everyone knows there are there are times in your life where things happen, and you just have to talk about them. Look, it's like when you're when your kid takes a dump for the first time. That's a big deal, because you've talked about that. Right? But but to this weekend, we were we spent a solid week and a half coaching out a tooth in my house. It was watching attitude. It's like no, we probably you can you definitely can. And so this this weekend, finally, after much debate much struggle My son has lost his very first tooth and he pulled it himself it was a it was actually pretty

Paul Daly  02:14

legit wasn't just like pulling it out with his hand or was there like some contraption involved now

Kyle Mountsier  02:18

it was the old pull it out with his hand and that whole nine yards but what we like we went through I think there were like nine different bribes. And just to be real fair, one of them was I'll talk about it on the podcast, because it's literally my kid's goal in life. Oh,

Paul Daly  02:35

congratulations. There, we made it, buddy did it you know, I think you had missed a real opportunity to tie it to an EV and like have the first tooth pulled out by TV. Industry. Hey, I'm just the idea guy after after the fact. On Monday, I had


great ideas last time

Paul Daly  02:57

after we got to live streaming episodes of auto collabs coming at you hot today. You don't want to miss either of these. Let me just say know, Darren don't is going to be on at noon. And if you don't know Darren, don't you probably do if you've been around this ecosystem enough. But I mean, you need to check out this episode because it is going to expand your horizons. In directions I didn't even expect and I expect the unexpected when Darren Jones on second one is going to be a ton of fun. Michael Johnson, who is our fellow and resident Aussie is going to be at a soda con with sales logs. They're the ones that actually made the awesome scarf. That's

Kyle Mountsier  03:35

not the show. Now here's the thing, that one's one to pay attention to and hang on till the end because we get into some stuff about inventory dynamics. Oh, like you would have never I would have never expected to have from this conversation. But I think US auto dealers can take a lot from what Australian auto dealers are dealing with price. I said at the end of the interview, I was like everybody's gonna be swarming this guy to like, ask the real questions. You know, we should?

Paul Daly  04:02

Yeah, like talking about knowing like the Monday morning quarterback like we would have talked about those things first, had we even known. You got it. You gotta listen to it, though. Like live streaming live on LinkedIn at noon, and at 3pm. Eastern, or you could just go and search auto collabs on your favorite podcast platform and listen to them right now. You can binge Listen, this morning, they would be a great way to start your week, we're gonna say that. We also look if you're not coming to a soda con, if you're a dealer, if you're in the Philly area, or you can get to Philly. Get your tickets now. So to we have a full roster full agenda. People are coming. The hotels are filling up, you gotta be there. It's gonna be nuts. You gotta be there. That's an upset we've talked about a lot. Let's get into some news.

Kyle Mountsier  04:46

Let's do it. Let's get it so this one's This one's good. I can't wait for you to lay this one out.

Paul Daly  04:53

This is a good one. Okay, so one of the great things about this developing a So to con community is the fact that our people and our thinkers and our thought leaders in in the asoto verse, they just start sending us stuff, right? Because they're like, oh, this needs to be talked about this needs to be talked about and everything. Let's face it, everything can't be talked about everywhere. But we can talk about this here. So here's the question does Carvanha really sell cars for lower prices? As stated, while Forbes contributor Jeremy Alexandri, Alexandri. My new has a very hard time i Dude, my dude, Jim, we gotta we should reach out to him. He has a very hard time finding proof of that statement. And here's what he did by visiting the Wayback Machine website, he recovered deleted content, which I don't know if we have a visual of it, probably not, we have to go. The article in the link was shown from Carvanha website that promise shoppers an average savings of 2199 for each vehicle purchased from its site. Whoa, the content also stated that Carvanha saves its customers 130 million versus traditional car dealers, a number that represented accumulated savings for all sold vehicles since 2016 2016. They cited KVB as a resource in the fine print. So Jeremy reaches out to KBB and came to me he's like, that was awesome. Carvanha didn't respond. KBB came back and said, Yeah, we can't endorse the accuracy of that. There's internal numbers that they're using as part of their calculation. So then he went to the public financial data from Carvana. And he said, Well, actually, they make higher profits per each use vehicle sold than dealers. Okay. So then he went, this was cool. He went to our friends at Vin Q, and Vin Q Are people pretty smart people, and they deployed their algorithm to find that Carvanha is prices were higher than dealers 72% of the time on listings. Thanks for you. Giving a little truth up in there paying a premium for experience y'all. Yeah, look at to this point, we're not saying that the Carvana experience isn't good. It could be can be great. Regarding financing Carvana claims to give their customers lower rates. However, on an average from 2018 to 2021, Carvanha is average rate was 13.41%. And dealers average rate was 8.76%. And so

Kyle Mountsier  07:11


Paul Daly  07:13

Our buddy Jeremy uncovered a

Kyle Mountsier  07:15

big, a big use the mean and when we say our buddy Jeremy,

Paul Daly  07:21

he's our buddy, now. Our buddy now, Jeremy, we're coming for you, man. We got to get him to hang out. We should get him to his Otakon I know,

Kyle Mountsier  07:28

where does he live? I'm like scouring the thing we

Paul Daly  07:31

can find. Whatever it is, I can fly there fairly easily. We're gonna reach out to him today. So the point is that he's starting to just prove out the claims that are being made. Carvana has had a lot of scrutiny lately. There's been a lot of things that just don't seem quite right. Now, granted, they've done a great job revolutionising online retail for dealers, they've done a great job showing people what their buying experience online could be, and built a great brand around it that people have overall favorable impression impression of showing you that if you build great brand, guess what, you can actually get past a lot of this other stuff, it'll eventually catch up with you. And it seems like it kind of is now. But Carvana finally responded to him after this came out. And they asked that this could be added to the article. So he graciously added said buying and financing used vehicles incorporates a litany of variables and comparing costs or rates must examine similar buyers and all required fees, including for instance, that other dealers may charge documentation fees that can approach $700 Carvanha, has delivered industry leading experiences for buying or selling used cars to millions of customers, and is proud to have recently been named the number two automotive brand in the US as designated by Forbes, the same article, the same publication that came out in 2020 Most consumer concentric consumer centric Companies list so they were like, hey, our brand is really good. That it did they did a good job of saying like,

Kyle Mountsier  08:58

it was great, great. Okay, so here's the thing, perceived value is a reality. So we know that in the marketplace, whatever the perceived value of the ability to transact, or have a certain experience with a certain consumer matrix, that's the value that's ascribed to it. Now is this you know, I think the major question that actually, Todd Caputo sent us was, hey, is this like, actually malpractice? Is this poor practices say that your average shopper is going to save X verse another, you know, verse Oh,

Paul Daly  09:32

yeah, we skipped the part of the article where Jeremy went in his Jeremy now where he went into the regulatory hot water that they could be, you know, we've talked about the FTC and all the regulations, he's like, here's all these things might land them in a whole lot of trouble potentially. So I'm sorry, I need to contextualize Yeah,

Kyle Mountsier  09:52

so to say like, Hey, variants over or under KBB, but whether it be trade values or you know, or even retail values and Understanding that the the variables that are attached to that are so much more deep, so much deeper. You know, I think that this is just a proof case for. And I think that, you know, if he had to use the Wayback Machine, this means Hey, he is going way back. And we've seen actually Carvana shift their branding away from value or cost savings into experience. And I think that's that's just a note to everyone that, especially as we think about, like, all these FTC regulations, if all your if all you're trading on his price, then you get you put yourself in a position of needing to explain it more and more often. And so if you trade on experience, there's less explaining Do you don't got your spleen in the

Paul Daly  10:48

plane to do? Yeah, so taka puto, if you know he's part of the Saudi verse, former dealer ran the delivery centers, open them up all over the country. reco park now is doing some consulting, he gave us a couple bullets with his thoughts on this when he sent it through. He's like, hey, the author use the Wayback Machine. They suggested Carvana could be in some legal issues. He's like, and a lot of other dealers do similar stuff, right? Like saying $3,000 below blue book, or, you know, you're gonna save X amount of money, right? That's all going to be a big problem with these new proposed regulations. With the new rules coming. You know, Qatar was questioning whether or not regulators are going to go into the Wayback Machine and see who was saying the I mean, obviously, you're not gonna go back like you're not guilty of anything right in the past if the regulations just come up. But you can see who was really years

Kyle Mountsier  11:33

from now would they go back at the junior exam to prove that

Paul Daly  11:37

like it was a propensity in some kind of case or filing. So takeaway from this is, look, your stuff always catches up with you, building a great brand actually helps you right, in times when there's questions or rough water. And we'll see what what comes out with Carvana, right, like playing the devil's advocate Carvana, like you said, Kyle trades on value, and the value proposition changes over time. And whatever business practices are under there that are like, Well, that's all gonna have to come out when it comes out. The regardless is the best thing we can be doing as an industry is to being upfront with our consumers is being transparent with our consumers, like for real, for real for real. And doing the work to build a brand that is empathetic and connect with the customers where they are at speaking about customers and where they're at.

Kyle Mountsier  12:23

I knew there was like, there was 18 different ways we could have gotten where it was coming. So as a marketer, I've been watching this kind of story unfold for the last a little over a month and a half since Google stated that they were going to be updating their content requirements for websites and web providers targeting unhelpful content, because what their desire is, is to to actually create heute better human experiences. It's called the helpful content update. So think about that. And what they want, what they want content creators and people to be focusing on is driving consumer experiences in a people first approach. I love this. And so yeah, I love the graphic. That was solid Isaac, if you weren't watching, watching, it was great. Yeah. So there's a couple questions that they're going to be looking at. And they're going to be they're going to be tuning their algorithm for content, because what if we know anything about content, what it drives us organic traffic, when people are searching for different articles or related items on the internet. So what they're asking for, is for a couple of good qualities, here's just a couple that we drew out with someone reading your content, leave feeling like they had a satisfying experience. Interesting, like fair benchmark,

Paul Daly  13:45

I love that I'm like a net promoter score of your content.

Kyle Mountsier  13:50

It's like I left, I left satisfied, like, restaurant was good, you know, whatever that may be. Does your content clearly demonstrate firsthand expertise and the depth of knowledge, for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product service or visiting a place? So I am sure things like real user reviews, walk arounds, elements, like you look in in Edmonds or And the content that they have, they're taking all of these editors putting them in cars, and they're going I experienced X. And I think that we can take a note from that instead of this vehicle does X it's I experienced X is probably the better mode of content that we're gonna see out of this. Now, here's, here's what I think is is the big question mark, especially for automotive and we pay for a lot of repetitive SEO content across different providers. So bad qualities for people first include creating content to primarily attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans roles and like, Okay, we've got this stuff on our website. Are you producing a lot of content on different topics in hopes of the same like That's some of it might perform well in search results are you just kind of spray and pray and spray and pray? Right? Maybe maybe something will hit? Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources? So I think that that's a really key one. Because a lot of times, what we do is we just kind of put a half of it in or half of the work, and all sudden readers are just left searching. And then this is this, this is one that I love. Are you writing to a particular word count, because you've heard of read that Google is preferred has a preferred word count? This is great, because every SEO specialist, you go through that, like 4500 5500 words, you got to do 1000 words, right? And everybody's like, 1013, I got the 1000, check, you know, get out the hack, which, which is then that truncated search search results. And

Paul Daly  15:49

the funny part about this one is Google literally put in their document in parentheses after that statement, no Cabo, we don't. Like, they actually gave commentary in the middle of their information document, which was my favorite part of the whole,

Kyle Mountsier  16:03

you know, what's crazy, actually, I mean, just from like, an SEO note. So for those marketers out there, like we pay attention to what's happening from a soda content. So this is just real world experience. There was a method Google

Paul Daly  16:15

likes that, yeah, real world experience. This is already helpful content. Yeah.

Kyle Mountsier  16:19

So here we go. So there was a big craze about root beer memes. All right. And this was earlier this summer. Well, there is a ton of content about route mere means what is it? Where does it go? We wrote up a what the kids are into article that is two sentences with a link out and a GIF, and a really good title. That current that one currently sits for like 10 different keyword phrase searches as a number two or three in the article. So it's not 1000 words. It's not 1500 words. There's no bullet points. There's nothing fancy. It's just a well linked well titled good image, all of that, what you want. Think about think about what you're, what you're writing? And is it relevant for humans, and especially when we think about auto specific articles, are you writing as if you're writing to a local human that's connecting with a piece of content in order to drive them deeper in the searcher search funnel? Because that's what Google is going to identify as helpful content. Let's go

Paul Daly  17:21

VLAN like this is going to be really good for a soda content. Because we write for people, if you haven't figured it out, Google understands what's actually good for people and people whether they are here or somewhere else, like the moon. Segue us that just because we can

Kyle Mountsier  17:40

be there soon.

Paul Daly  17:42

Wow, we had a big story. We're all excited. The NASA's Artemis one SLS mega rocket, supposedly is going to be heading to the moon and back starting today's preparations. We're all set. And everyone was all, you know, excited. And I walked into our office this morning. And the production team has it on the monitor on the live stream, Cocoa Beach, Florida between 10 833 and 10:33am. The launch was supposed to happen after 10 years in the making. The ship's going to include three flight test dummies, no real humans, they're going to measure effects of radiation, et cetera, et cetera, they're going to send them out 39 to 42 days, flinging them around the moon a couple times, bring it back. And it didn't happen. Didn't have didn't happen. There was a hydrogen fuel leak and a crack somewhere. And I said, Man, it kind of makes me feel better for the amount of planning and preparation and money that went into that for still not working something when I actually feel pretty good when something doesn't go wrong around here. Yeah, as we just thought of it like 10 minutes ago.

Kyle Mountsier  18:39

So it goes, it looks like they they're set to try again on the second. So later this week, we might get we might get to see this thing take off. I have a couple a couple of my favorite things is one of the dummies name is Helga you know, it's Helga, why not? That's a great name for it. So me,

Paul Daly  18:56

why not? Yeah, whatever happened. They had special appearances planned today by Jack Black, Chris Evans, Keke Palmer as well as performance to the Star Spangled Banner by Josh Groban and Herbie Hancock like check that out. What are those? What are they all doing? They're like, well, we got to come back. I wonder if they'll be back. We're gonna find out.

Kyle Mountsier  19:14

I do love brand play though. I love the brand play.

Paul Daly  19:17

Absolutely. Hey, not everybody can take 10 years to do something, have a go way over budget and still have everyone excited about it. So we'll be excited. Well tune in let you know but for today, we get a lot of work to do as an industry. So get out there and do the work that you go ahead and do it.