What is ADF ?

What is ADF ? 2018-05-11T15:27:50+00:00

What is ADF ?

What is ADF? The definition of ADF is Auto-lead Data Format which was initially distributed in May 2000. It’s a programming language created specifically for the automobile industry to communicate a customer’s contact information from an online form and transmit that information to CRMs (customer relationship management) applications.

In layman’s term, it’s a method to transmit automotive internet leads in a simple script language that is in English and a computer can understand.

Let me provide an example: Max wants to buy a car, so he goes online to research the cars on the market. He googles his search terms for a Chevy Tahoe, and gets various results and chooses the one on top under Autotrader.com. On the Autotrader landing page, there is a form that Max fills out. That form is translated into an XML parent language with ADF and sent via email to a CRM of Autonation of Chicago. The CRM application will interpret this lead contact information (aka ADF) to the salespeople and they will proceed to contact Max and attempt to close a sale.

You’re probably wondering, what is the XML you’re talking about. Well ADF is a very niche language, and in order to get traction into an industry such as the automotive, it had to have a foundation that was stable and easy to distribute. Thus, ADF uses the XML (Extensible Markup language) as its foundation. Auto lead data format is an open XML based standard.  XML is used every day and in every industry for the very purpose of providing a shell or skeleton to create additional elements and definitions. In other words, it provides structure to data.

The first two lines must start with <?xml> and <?adf>so that the CRM reading it knows that’s its coming in as XML data and then all the ADF elements follow. Here’s a view what an ADF looks like below.

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Not all CRMs can automatically read ADF, they must provide a feature which can read a DTD (Document Type Definition) for ADF 1.0 . Some examples of Automotive CRMs are ELeadOne, Dealer Socket, Vinsolution and a few more.

Ok, back to ADF, ADF 1.0 is comprised of 5 major elements that define its structure, they are as follows:

  1. prospect = this is a lead
  2. customer = the car buyer (aka Max)
  3. vehicle = vehicle of interest (aka Chevy Tahoe)
  4. vendor = the automobile dealership (aka Autonation of Chicago)
  5. provider = who provided the lead (aka Autotrader)

Remember, I stated earlier that only an English speaker can understand? The explanation for that is that ADF is based on the English Language only, otherwise known as UTF-8. UTF (Unicode Transformation Format) is just the universal method of reading characters and in this instance its English. This is important because it means you can’t read symbols or accent marks.

I hope this helps you understand the basics of ADF.

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