DEARBORN — FordDirect, a joint venture between Ford Motor Co. and its dealers, Sunday launched a new Web 2.0 platform, based on Sister Technologies’ VSHOC and Publisher platform.

The platform is called DealerConnection Vehicle Showroom and is intended for the company’s Ford and Lincoln dealers.

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FordDirect VSR seamlessly integrates with a dealer’s digital marketing or social media platform including blogs, Facebook and their YouTube pages so that consumers can search the most current new and used vehicle inventory without clicking out of their original destination.

The service will be available to all 3,500 Ford and Lincoln Dealers that have DealerConnection Web sites, and offered for no additional charge to dealers that currently have both DealerConnection Elite and DealerConnection Premier Advanced Inventory Service Web services.

The virtual showroom’s interactive filtering and keyword search functions provide users with their desired selection in real time.  Furthermore, unlike other video inventory tools, VSR switches automatically to an HTML 5.0 version for users who access it via a smart phone or tablet to maximize the users’ experience and the dealer’s ROI.

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DealerConnection VSR maximizes the effectiveness of a dealer’s digital marketing and social media platforms and enhances the user experience by offering consumers the ability to not only search for a new vehicle by make, model and price, but can also submit an inquiry directly to the dealer or refer a vehicle to others without ever leaving the digital or social platform. VSR also automatically displays the desired vehicle on the dealer’s Web site for visitors who come from YouTube and, if such a vehicle is sold, lists of similar vehicles are displayed, saving the users from the annoying “search again” issue.

“We are finding that consumers are turning to social media and other digital platforms to initiate their research for a vehicle purchase, so it’s important for dealers to capture their attention with the most current information in an interactive way,” said Valerie Fuller, COO of FordDirect. “DealerConnection Vehicle Showroom provides consumers with an enhanced online experience so that they can find the vehicle that they are looking for and be able to connect with a dealer without the hassle of having to visit numerous websites.”

A recent study from Autoguide.com states that 2.4 million in-market shoppers used Facebook in some way to make a vehicle purchase decision. In addition, 58 percent of consumers are likely to mention their new car and/or buying experience via social media and 82 percent of mentions about car purchases on social media are positive.

“Over the last eight months we have worked on perfecting the details of our video product for FordDirect, ensuring it meets the needs of both dealer and consumer,” said Israel Alpert, CEO of Dallas, Texas-based Sister Technologies. “Today, we are proud to be taking a huge step forward – publishing the inventory beyond the dealer’s Web site and making shopping even easier for potential car buyers.”

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DealerConnection websites average more than 2.5 million monthly unique visitors and drive more than 55,000 monthly leads for Ford and Lincoln dealers. For more information, visit www.forddirect.com/dealercenter.