In some respects, though, consolidation feeds itself. As auctions look to aggregate more data, their desire to consolidate grows. As that consolidation occurs, the larger companies find themselves with more data at their disposal, potentially making it difficult for smaller, independent auctions to keep up.
For example, Antley said KAR's investments in data allowed it to create a data science team last April to find ways to harness data from across ADESA's auctions and KAR's various companies to help customers move vehicles faster.
Antley said one of the team's goals is to use data to better assess a specific vehicle's condition. A vehicle's condition is one of the largest variables that affect pricing, and assessing it through analytics instead of a subjective human evaluation could save money for customers.
"We have the leverage now to make these [vehicle identification number]-level decisions," Antley said. "I think remarketing of the future is more about that.
"It's just beginning to build out that data repository, connecting the dots more."
Cox Automotive has also bet big on data across its properties, including through vAuto, its inventory management service, and RMS Automotive, which consults on vehicle portfolio management.
RMS General Manager Zach Hallowell said one of the largest changes of the past several years has been the company's increased ability to bring together disparate data sources to, say, suggest which vehicles should be sent to auction sooner than scheduled, given certain market conditions. That might mean getting those customers out of their leases earlier than planned, if the economics warrant doing so, and then anticipating the optimum price, rather than guessing at a desired reserve price.
"We get the build data, for example, from our manufacturing partners, so we know how the car was built at the factory," Hallowell said. "To bring that data together with transactional data from all our different data sources, from Manheim Market Report data on wholesale inventory to retail data we have available, to a recommended price on a specific vehicle is one of the big differences."
RMS President Nick Peluso said the industry as a whole is rapidly becoming more data driven, potentially fueling further consolidation not just among auctions but among dealerships.
"With a lot of the consolidation we're seeing with the AutoNations and the Hendricks and the CarMaxes of the world, it's heading that way," he said.
Indeed, consolidation among auctions has mirrored that among dealerships.
A National Automobile Dealers Association study forecasts there will be about 6,500 dealership owners by 2025, down from around 8,000 today.