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AutoTrader.com will announce later today it has signed an agreement to acquire Kelley Blue Book and its properties CDM Data and CDM Dealer Services, Dealer Communications has learned.

In exclusive interviews with Dealer Communications and the Wall Street Journal, AutoTrader President and CEO Chip Perry and Kelley Blue Book President and CEO Paul Johnson talked about the background and the strategy for the deal.


It’s the second major acquisition for AutoTrader in a little over a month, which announced in September it was buying vAuto, a used vehicle inventory management tool for dealers.

Kelley Blue Book, which was founded in 1926, is one of the oldest and most well known brand names in the automotive industry. It had come close to being sold a few times the last several years, including in 2008 when an earlier deal between AutoTrader and Kelley fell apart at the finish line primarily due to the collapse of the credit markets.

Kelley Blue Book retained the services of J.P. Morgan in July to again explore the option of selling the company. “Sometimes things come down to timing,” Johnson says. “People in the industry see the future as brighter and there is a resurgence in the M&A (mergers and acquisitions) markets.”

Several firms expressed interest and submitted bids to acquire Kelley. "KBB is one of the most attractive properties in years (for sale)," says Perry, who described the competition to buy it as "competitive."


AutoTrader, whose majority owner is Cox Enterprises Inc., announced in May that Providence Equity Partners had acquired a 25% stake in the company. At the time, Perry said the investment would “enable us to pursue the many organic growth opportunities, as well as strategic acquisitions, that will help improve the products and services we offer our customers.”

Terms of the AutoTrader-Kelley deal are not being released. However, industry insiders estimate the deal was in the neighborhood of $550 - $600 million. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

Both Kelley Blue Book and vAuto will operate as subsidiaries of AutoTrader. Johnson and Dale Pollak, vAuto’s founder and chairman, will report to Perry.

Except for additional products and services it will receive from AutoTrader, Perry says “almost everything Kelley does now is not going to change.”

However, Kelley, in a partnership with Vast Inc., had been working on a pay-per-performance classifieds lead model for new and used vehicles since the summer of 2009 after a partnership with AutoTrader ended prematurely.

Perry says Kelley’s model will move to more of a classified subscription model that is used by AutoTrader.

The challenge for AutoTrader will be to maintain Kelley’s brand as being the unbiased source for vehicle information and valuations. The plan is to enhance the consumer experience on KBB.com by custom fitting several of AutoTrader’s products for the site.

For example, classified listing model will play a much bigger role on KBB.com. In addition, KBB.com will also get AutoTrader’s Trade-In Marketplace, which provides consumers with an instant price for their vehicle redeemable at auto dealerships across the country participating in the program.

Perry says the partnership will enable dealers to access the Kelley audience.

When asked whether AutoTrader’s buying spree was done, Perry said the company is always on the lookout for opportunities, but that most of its growth would be from products developed internally.

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Auto Quotes/ResponseLogix

As we are constantly looking for ways to improve our internet sales process, one of the things that has come to our attention that we are thinking of looking into further is auto quoting. There are several companies that offer services like this at a reasonable rate, one of them being responselogix. We are looking at trying to implement this at mainly our Honda store on a trial basis until we see how it works, but before we did I thought it would be a great idea to pick the brains of this community on the topic and see if anyone out there has had any expierence working with such companies and how your dealership has benefitted etc. To give you some background right now we are using a system where a rep recieves a lead then the lead is first called so the initial contact can try to be made. If the initial contact is made by phone the appt is attempted and if the rep does not set one then the quote must be sent out manually by the rep through a template email we have devised from some good quote templates we have seen. Obviously in an ideal world we would be able to set an appt on every call, but when this cant happen we want to be sure we are getting quotes out. Some of the concerns we have are as follows...any input provided would be great.

1.) If your using an auto quote service, is it seamlessly able to interact with your ILM/CRM, specifically iMagiclab?

2.) Ultimately, we would like to get a hold of each customer on the phone prior to quoting to see if we cannot first set an appt. without having to divulge a quote. If you using an autoquote service, is there a time frame you can set up to allow yourself a chance for contact before its sent out?

3.) One of the main reasons we would like to implement this is to be sure each and every customer, regardless of whom the rep is the lead is assigned to is getting a quote. If you are using such a service, are all your customers getting prices?

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Facebook Dealer Challenge - cheer me on

25 Oct 2010

Car Dealer Facebook Challenge

Facebook Challenge, Edit No Comments

Okay, I will be the first to admit that I am no Social Media super freak. I’m hearing on a daily basis from dealers that Facebook is a waste of time and useless. I thought it would be fun to try and reconnect with the dealer that I started my career with, the Chevrolet dealer in little old Alliston, ON population 10,000.

Ernie Dean Chevrolet started today with 35 fans. I am going to work along side Sam “the sheriff” Williams to try and generate 1000 Facebook fans by 2011.

I will keep the automotive marketing nation updated on the progress. Today we went from 35 to a whopping 60.

Ernie Dean Chevrolet

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Sean:

I believe in the thought process but the variables of market size, ethnicity, income level, and educational background taint those numbers more than anything else. We have been involved in 20 groups for the past 5 years and I know dealers that print multiple statements (phony financials) to exceed group performance averages. I also know that Dealers need more training and input from the Manufacturers to get a handle on internet marketing and sales.
We need you to work with GM, Chrysler, and Ford to get us caught up and moving forward.
There are no easy answers and thanks for listening,
Dave Walsh

Re:

Dave,

Thank you for your email in response to my article in AutoSuccess Magazine.

I too have sen fictional numbers from dealers but that is what an Internet Sales 20 Group Moderator can filter through... Plus, not everyone is going to be allowed into the 20 group. this 20 Group is ONLY for dealers that want to be successful...

I am excited for our November 20 group, there will be a lot of Dealer Principals, GMs and High Level Internet Directors... These people I personally interviewed before I allowed membership. They are ALL focused on Success.

I would love an opportunity to speak to you and brainstorm some ideas with you.

*** Please sign up for www.automotiveinternetsales.com ITS FREE and it is the technology that supports the 20 Group. I would love to hear your opinion on it-

SVB

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Hello to all Automotive Internet Sales Professionals, my name is Durran Cage and I am the Internet Sales Director at Gary Mathews of Jackson in Tennessee. My team and I are very thankful to be the first Automotive Internet Sales Dealer of the Month! This could not have been done without the efforts of my hard working Internet Sales Coordinators and Internet Sales Managers, Sean Bradley, Stan "the man" Sher, and the entire DS staff. Big thanks to you all! Automotive Internet Sales changes from day to day and not a day goes by that I don't learn something new, so I am excited to here and see all the ideas and suggestions listed on automotiveinternetsales.com and also posting some thoughts of my own as well.

A brief background of my history in the automotive business, I first started in the car business at 17 years old selling cars at Zangara Dodge in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While selling at the dealership I was also able to get my Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a Concentration in Accounting, I then went to work for Chrysler as a District Sales Manager over West Tennessee, Memphis, and Mississippi Chrysler Dodge Jeep Dealers. The District Sales Manager position allowed me to go into 15-20 different dealerships on a weekly basis, and by doing this I was able to take bits and pieces from each dealership on what's effective and what has been proven to be ineffective in sales and service. I also started to see that there was a major piece of business missing in each dealership, the Internet Department. Can you believe that not a single dealership in Memphis or West Tennessee had an Internet Sales Department? I then took the opportunity to resign from Chrysler and join a very aggressive dealer by the name of Alan Vines who was ready to take the internet to the next level but was not sure if he could find the right person for the job... I joined Gary Mathews of Jackson in August 4, 2008, and it has been nothing but a blessing since. And with the recent help of Dealer Synergy, we were able to double our sales and we are continually trying to improve our department on a daily basis. As many of you know, it's not just about consistency within an Internet Department, it is more about consistent implementation and discipline of sticking to the basics and fundamentals of your Internet Sales Process. I look forward to obtaining new ideas and suggestions through automotiveintersales.com. Once again I am thank the Internet Sales Managers and Internet Sales Coordinators at Gary Mathews and DS staff for all the support and success.

If you have any ideas, suggestions, questions, or would like to contact me, you can do so by emailing durran@mathewsautomall.com or calling me directly at 731-394-6907 at anytime.

Take Care

Durran Cage


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Who is the BEST Automotive Dealership Website Company? And Why...???

Automotive Internet Sales is creating its TOP 10 LISTS! And the first section is Dealership Website Companies...

So, Please give me your feedback. Remember that is what this site is about... INFORMATION, IDEAS and FEEDBACK.

I look forward to all of your posts and thoughts.

SVB-

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Ok,

This is an oldie but goodie :)

I want to hear all of your opinions...

What is TRULY Vital for a SUCCESSFUL Dealership Website...?

I have Dealership after Dealership ask me these questions:

* Who is the best dealership website company?

* What are the best features for a dealeship site?

* Should I have a Flash site or not and why...?

* How many websites should I have?

* What is onsite versus offsite SEO?

* How often should I update my website?

* What content is important for my website?

**** And on and on the questions go... Please understand these are NOT the ONLY questions... I am simply trying to start the conversation...

I would love to hear from all of you as to what makes the MOST POWERFUL and Successful Dealersgip Website Solution and WHY?

I look forward to your posts

SVB-

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I have no problem weighing in on the subject, particularly when it comes to Internet Sales Departments. I have managed dealerships for 17 years with many different manufacturers in 3 different markets: San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles. And for the most part I would say the answer is "it depends". :) I will try to explain my take here:

1.) Dealer 20 groups are typically of the same brand, and over wide markets. So, how many leads should be determined by manufacturer type, PMA, staff, dealership goals, and regional manufacturer's sales volume targets. There should be ratioed expectations, of course. However, the dealers that are really thriving right now are getting back to Sales 101 basics, and they are focusing more on the customer. In addition, there is a great talent pool out there so they are hiring slower and firing faster.

2.) I would want to discuss the origins of the dealership customers themselves. As internet salespeople, they are too often (if not always) called "leads" intsead of "customers". If your dealership is just buying leads and expecting unreasonable results, you need to be sure you have a full plate of your own local market by optimizing your web presense with your home site. How well are you indexing in the major search engine sites like Google, Yahoo and MSN?

3.) I would certainly discuss the quality of these leads, where they are coming from, and how much money those leads are costing. I would hope to discuss all of the lead providers, the quality of their leads overall, and talk to dealers that hold these people accountable for what they are selling you. After all, they are also selling those same leads to your competitors.

4.) I would discuss our home websites as well, particularly the quality of the sites. There should be discussion with other dealers about how they are able to make their dealership very user-freindly and accessible to the potential buyer as well as current owners. How do they optimize those sites? After all, your website is your new "front door".

5.) In terms of ratio expectations, an internet salesperson that can close 15% is great, but what about how they got there. These high-closing salespeople tend to make quick contact with their prospects, and are not afraid to call people.

6.) Good internet salespeople make contact early, but also listen very well to the needs of the potential buyer, which is why they typically average around 35% appointments, 30% of which are confirmed (by a manager or internet director). Of these 30/100 appointments, they should close 15 deals. Your best internet salesperson should be invited to these meetings to discuss their processes.

7.) There also needs to be more emphasis on the perception of the "internet customer". ALL customers now are "internet customers" and some discussion is certainly due to the fact that they are not all there to grind you out on a price. Too much money is left on the table with internet prospects because that money is taken off the table with incorrect perceptions. Not enough attention to selling the value of the dealership, the vehicle and the salesperson.

The internet departments accross the United States are all unique, but share a common goal. To sell more cars! The influence and effect on a dealership of internet departments deserve a 20 Group for sure. However, these Groups need to be more than just number factories and big lunches. Internet 20 Groups need to discuss the "hows" and the "whys" a bit more in detail, have in-depth best practice discussions and hold each other accountable like other 20 Groups.

I would want to have my dealership and the dealerships in my group have some targets to reach between 20 meetings, and hold myself and other members accountable for those targets. If there is some focus on these things, I think the numbers will take care of themselves.

Thanks and I am always available for discussion at rich@dealertraction.com

Rich Mertz

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Hey, If anyone knows of a QUALITY Internet Director for the Chicago area.... one of my CLOSEST clients just lost theirs with NO NOTICE... Argh!!!!

This is for a BEAUTIFUL, HUGE and Brand New Honda Dealership!!!!!

Contact me for more details

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Google Performs Bold Experiments With Local SERPs

Google has been adding new features to help small-to-medium sized businesses get noticed in search engine results pages (SERPs). This year, one big change was the renaming of the Local Business Center to Google Places. Along with the name change, this product was retooled to provide business owners with powerful yet easy-to-use tools to help people discover them when they search.

You’re probably already familiar with these free business listings, as they’re often included at the top of the SERPs for relevant search queries. What you may not be familiar with are the changes that might be coming to local search. With Google’s mission to give users the most relevant, high-quality results possible, the search giant has already begun testing a radically new layout, and possibly even a new algorithm, that may affect how your business gets found online. Among the changes spotted in these intermitted tests are as follows:

· The embedded Google Map has been placed along the right sidebar, pushing down AdWords advertisements.

· Reviews are being more prominently displayed.

· The placement, or ranking, of current local listings changes radically in the test.

One thing I noticed in my sneak peek is that organic seems to play a big role in the rankings.

More details: Google local search experiment.

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What Drives You?

That's a tough question isnt it? What drives you? Not the car that you drive ( I care about what you drive but not the point of this post). The car you drive is easy; a Mitsubishi right? Haha Just kidding.

When I first started in car sales years ago I have to say that my drive had one motivating factor. Money. Before I sold cars I sold furniture and let me tell you, you had to sell a WHOLE lot of sofas to get paid what I did selling one car. I was a batchelor living in a nice townhouse and I had a car payment and of course a social life that all costed money. The harder I worked the more money I made and spent. Then I got married, started having kids and money became more important in some ways. But my "drive" became more about my family being taken care of then just about the money I was making. My drive became "if I hit this goal then I can take this time and do this with my family." Being number one was important to me then too. I have a basement full of "salesman of the month" trophies.

That was all when I was a salesman. Now I am a Sales Manager and my new drive is to see my people succeed. The problem is The people need Drive. Let me stop here and say that my current sales staff is awesome. I would go anywhere and do anything for all four of them. If you have bought cars from my guys you know they are top notch. Stafford Horetz, Jon Allgeier, Jason Evans, and Gerald Price are great salesmen and I consider it an honor to work with them. However; I want to grow my sales force to achieve more.

This is where I ask for your help. What drives you? Is it material things like cars, houses, or boats? Is it vacations? What about being number one? Is that important anymore? I am looking for a couple of people looking for a career. I am posting this on numerous blogs because if you know me I know that this will work the best. I thank you for your time in reading this and if you are interested in a career in automotive sales please email me directly at jbrown@youngermitsubishi.com or comment on the blog itself.

Car sales has been great to my family and I. I get to help out customers and they are different everyday. Technology changes all the time so I am constantly learning new ways to sell. Ten years ago blogs didnt exist and here I am writing one now. If you have a little bit of drive you can go far, all you have to do is be willing to get in the car!

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car chat 30 days of free leads

Once you get the traffic to your site, how much of it are you converting to leads?
Chat is growing at a fast rate, and for good reason. With the right software, process, and people, you can increase your current lead conversion by 60 to 100% without lowering your original conversion. Want to see the results for free? Get 30 days of free 24/7 staffed chat support and leads, its simple to setup, and you can be live in just a few days. Why not try it?
Tracey@carchat24.com 813-781-0491
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Print Advertising, I need your advice please

As far as print advertising is concerned. Which magazines have the best (Return On Inquiry) I.E. - Auto Dealer Monthly, Digital Dealer, Auto Success, Ward's Dealer Magazine, etc...? Please share with me your opinions on this and why you feel that one over another is better for reaching the mass audience. Thanks in advance for your input and make it a great day.

Best Regards,

Bill Goodfriend

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24/7 Chat Case Study - Toyota of Irving

This was a case study I recently posted on my blog: Automotive Marketing . We ran this study on Dealer Refresh for 2 months. Below you will see the results before adding Car Chat 24 and after. Anyone on Automotiveinternetsales.com that would be interested in a 30 day free trial, feel free to reach out.

05 Oct 2010

Toyota of Irving – Success Story w/Car Chat 24

Car Chat 24 Case Studies, Edit No Comments

increase sales with car chat 24

I’m happy to report that we have yet another fully satisfied customer using Car Chat 24. Toyota of Irving’s Internet director took part in our latest case study on DealerRefresh.

The #1 Hottest Thread on the popular DealerRefresh forum is none other than “Free 24/7 Live Dealer Support, Staff, and Leads (Case Study).”

Here is what Maria had to say after her 2 month trial:

You can see that Toyota of Irving after adding Car Chat 24 was able to increase their conversion by 60-70% and their website sales by over 40%.

Here is what Maria Jones had to say about her experience:

As you can see the addition of a chat service (Car Chat 24) has yielded great results. At Toyota of Irving we are converting more visitors into valid leads and increasing guest satisfaction. It is truly amazing that we are capturing visitors as they are live on our site 24 hours a day! Some of them even get a response from us while they are still on-line after the chat. I will say however, this study focused on sales leads but I can’t tell you how many service leads came over as well and I know that we enjoyed some pretty good tickets from those leads as well! I hope that this data is helpful to you”.

I thought it would be important to display the data before adding chat and after.

Conversion Rate: The percentage of absolute unique visitors who submit a form on your website.

Numbers Before Chat:

Feb 2010

Unique Visitors: 4370

Web Leads: 94

Conversion: 2.15%

Sales: 24

Closing: 25%

March 2010

Unique Visitors: 7409

Web Leads: 219

Conversion: 2.9%

Sales: 42

Closing: 19%

Numbers After Chat:

Final numbers for June 2010 from Toyota of Irving:

Total Unique Visitors: 3728

Total Website Leads without Chat Leads: 87
Lead Conversion % without Chat Leads: 2.33%
Total CarChat24 Leads/Appointments/Queries: 62
Total Conversion % with Chat Leads: 3.99%
Total Lead Conversion % increase: 71.24%
Total Website Sales without Chat Leads: 22
Total Chat Lead Sales: 9
Total Sales: 31
Website Sales % increase: 41%

July 2010 Case Study Results (Final)
Total Unique Visitors: 4487
Total Website Leads without Chat Leads: 154
Lead Conversion % without Chat Leads: 3.43%

To
tal CarChat24 Leads/Appointments/Queries: 92
Total Conversion % with Chat Leads: 5.48%
Total Lead Conversion % increase: 59.76%
Total Website Sales without Chat Leads: 32
Total Chat Lead Sales: 14
Total Sales: 47
Website Sales % increase: 43.75%

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Free Apple iPad Contest


Are you interested in the opportunity to win a Apple iPad? For a limited time, Automotive Internet Sales is giving its members the opportunity to win a free Apple iPad with their registration to www.AutomotiveInternetSales.com. For more details see the rules and regulations outlined below.

Rules: To be eligible for a chance to win a free Apple iPad, participants must sign up for a free account at www.automotiveinternetsales.com. After signing up, participants must upload a profile image and maintain weekly activity. The winner of the free Apple iPad will be announced once Automotive Internet Sales reaches a minimum of 1,000 members. If you have any questions, please contact us at 1-888-814-0429.

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Special Finance Leads, Is it really over for good?

Is The Special Finance Department a Thing of The Past ?Shortly after the crash and sub prime meltdown in the automobile industry in 2008 Auto Dealerships were even dealt a more severe blow to their internal operations that most people do not realize unless you are the Special Finance Manager at a new or used car dealership that offer bad credit auto loans.Over night almost every single sub prime lender that most dealerships had on board that offered secondary loans were out of business without little advance warning and the only remaining lenders that would approve a loan were limited and the approval's were considered a left handed turn down meaning that the conditional approval would be impossible for the dealer to sell a vehicle based on the conditions of the stipulations and advance amount.Some sub prime lenders have revamped there lending criteria like Americredit, Chase Sub Prime and Santander & CPS and have re emerged in many dealerships as a result of the new lending criteria and advances dealers were forced to change their way of thinking inventory buying habits as well as procedures and staffing.Industry Fact 7 Out of 10 Customers that make their way to showrooms across the county will not qualify for conventional financing under the new banking guidelines now in affect.So I think its safe to say that the Special Finance Manager will survive but this will require the Special Finance Manager to be a more avid hunter in the quest to attract the right customer for the right car and the right lender. another result of the crash of the automotive industry has affected countless lead generation companies that harvest non prime leads for bad credit auto dealers with a special finance departments thousand of car dealers canceled all third party lead generators as they were "marketing a target that had no market".So as the playing field has changed the players have as well auto dealers now look for new ways to promote their special finance department there are lead sources available that charge per lead fees ranging from $5.00 to $50.00 for a qualified Special Finance leads.Also dealers are starting to look closer at companies that offer No Fund No Fee Special Finance Leads as they never have to pay for a lead unless they produce a sale says Mark Hergert CEO of Auto Credit Financial Services.www.AutoCreditDealerMarketing.com866*976*9922
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Social Media: What will it do for me?

I have been selling cars for almost ten years. I have been through numerous training sessions on how to sell a car. Ask anyone in the automotive industry and they will tell you the same thing. Between manufacturers, "sales Gurus", heck even our Human resources rep has at least two training sessions with us a year. The question that I always leave with is how can I use this for the benefit of my customer. Or in my head I pretend I am the customer and ask what will this guy's training do for me.

That brings me to the point of this post. Social media is the cool name for it. It consists (but not limited to) Facebook, myspace, Twitter, linkedin,I could go on and on. So what does Facebook or any of these others do for you, the consumer? Why are dealerships spending hours of precious time developing blogs, and fanpages? The simple answer is to engage you. It is our feeling that if you like me enough and I offer you a connection to my dealership there is no need to go anywhere else. If I make us more "human". It hopefully takes out the bad stigma car dealerships sometimes have. Im reminded of that sleezy car sales guy portrayed in any tv show. I certainly hope that I am not percieved to be that guy!

I could go into all the ins and outs in Social media, but thats not what I want to do. I just wanted to tell you what it does for you, and how you the consumer can use it. I want to let you know what is does for me. Having you engage us is what it does for me. That's what Social media is all about. Its about you having a friend here,and me having an advocate in you out there. It's about us engaging into a nonconfrontational relationship that can be built and last a long time, and all it costs is time. I look forward to seeing you post on our fanpage, because the last piece of this is that Social media gives you a voice. Whether its a complaint about the lot guy scratching your car ,or a glowing review of how well we treat you. You have a voice and it is very effective.

My favorite of the "Social Media" is Facebook. In my opinion it is the easiest for anyone to use, and the huge numbers of people with facebook pages back that assumption up. Our Facebook fan page has been a moderate success. We have the most fans of any dealership in the area. I believe it is only because we use it. It is here where i ask you to go to the link here again and become a fan of us too. You will get to see pics of happy customers, (maybe yourself?). I also put info about upcoming models, info you wont get anywhere else! Last month to the chagrin of my service department I offered a $5 oil change! But, you have to be a fan of us to get the benefits. You have to engage us.

Social media is here to stay. My only wish is that I use it to help you more. From giving advice on tire pressure, to purchasing your dream car. Thats what it will do for you.

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