Whilst the automotive industry has come a long way since the days of classifieds magazines, and adverts in the Sunday newspaper there is still a long way to go. In today's digital landscape, the sector is witnessing a transformative shift with the rise of online marketplaces and classified websites reshaping how vehicles are bought, sold, and interacted with globally. While these platforms offer unparalleled convenience and choice, they also present a unique set of challenges and opportunities for stakeholders across the industry. At the heart of their success lies the effective utilisation of data, driving decision-making, enhancing user experiences, and fostering innovation. AutosBuzz 2024, held in Amsterdam on the 14th and 15th May was the forum in which the industry came together to discuss and explore these themes in more detail.

With two days’ worth of insights from industry experts and senior leaders from the likes of Autotrader UK, Mobile.de, Motorway, and OLX, what were the overarching common themes?

Common themes

  1. Data privacy and security concerns: With the exponential growth in digital transactions, ensuring the privacy and security of user data is paramount. According to a study by Statista, 86% of consumers worldwide are concerned about their online privacy. Recent data breaches and privacy scandals have underscored the importance of robust data protection measures for automotive digital marketplaces.

  2. Quality of listings and trust: Maintaining the accuracy and authenticity of listings is a persistent challenge for automotive marketplaces. A report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that auto-related scams accounted for over $55 million in losses in 2020 alone. Addressing fraudulent listings and building trust among users are critical for the long-term success of these platforms.

  3. Integration with dealerships and OEMs: Collaboration with traditional dealerships and OEM’s presents both opportunities and hurdles. According to a McKinsey report, 70% of car buyers prefer online research before visiting a dealership. Automotive marketplaces must navigate complex relationships and integrate seamlessly with existing networks while delivering value to all stakeholders.

  4. UX and interface design: Providing an intuitive, seamless user experience is essential for retaining customers. Research by Deloitte found that 73% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase on websites with personalised experiences. Optimising search functionality, streamlining the purchasing process, and enhancing mobile compatibility are ongoing challenges for automotive digital marketplaces.

  5. Globalisation and localisation: Expanding into new markets requires a deep understanding of local regulations, cultural nuances, and consumer preferences. A study by eMarketer estimated that global digital ad spending in the automotive industry will reach $32.6 billion by 2024. Achieving scalability while remaining relevant at the local level poses a significant challenge for global platforms.

  6. Revenue generation models: New marketplaces and those in emerging markets are finding new ways to monetise their platforms. Vehicle finance is a big focus for some, where significant investment from financial institutions has allowed investment in end-to-end capabilities for brokering finance to drive incremental revenue. Others are focussing on providing their underlying technology at a platform level for others to build solutions and applications from.

  7. Demand for subscription is ‘not for now’: Speakers suggested that it could be several years until subscription could truly be considered mainstream citing cost to the user as a barrier to entry vs. purchasing. However, new models to deliver subscription services for pre-owned vehicles could play a key part in driving growth, with automotive marketplaces potentially being at the forefront of driving appetite for this.

Opportunities in automotive digital marketplaces

  1. Personalisation and predictive analytics: Leveraging data analytics enables personalised recommendations and predictive alerts, enhancing user engagement. According to Accenture, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations.

  2. Blockchain technology for transparency: Blockchain offers immutable transaction records, mitigating fraud and enhancing trust. Companies like CarVertical are using blockchain to provide vehicle history reports, improving transparency for buyers and sellers.

  3. Subscription-based models and mobility services: Whilst being highlighted as being some way from being commonly demanded, the rise of subscription-based models presents an opportunity to diversify revenue streams and cater to changing consumer preferences. Many OEM-backed platforms, as well as start-ups, already offer flexible leasing and subscription services, disrupting traditional ownership models.

  4. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual showrooms: Integrating AR and virtual showrooms enhances the online shopping experience, allowing consumers to visualise and interact with vehicles remotely. Audi's "Audi VR experience" and Volvo's "Live Design" platform are examples of innovative virtual showroom experiences.

  5. Data monetisation and partnerships: Strategic partnerships with data analytics firms, insurance providers, and financial institutions unlock opportunities for data monetisation. Companies like TrueCar partner with insurance companies to offer personalised insurance quotes based on user data, enhancing the value proposition for consumers.


In many countries there is a ‘winner takes all’ scenario for automotive marketplaces with market leaders achieving majority market share whilst generating extraordinary revenues. Often it is the competitors to the established players driving change and innovation, keeping the big boys on their toes. Either way it’s clear that all automotive digital marketplaces face a range of challenges in data privacy, trust-building, and user experience. However, these challenges are accompanied by significant opportunities for innovation, collaboration, and revenue growth. By harnessing the power of data and embracing emerging technologies, automotive digital marketplaces can navigate the road ahead and drive continued success in an increasingly digital world.