Automotive PPC Strategy for Dealers IN 2023

Less Budget for More Leads


Automotive PPC Strategy That Converts

PPC Advertising has gone through many evolutions over the years, and so has the best automotive PPC strategy for our car dealers. As digital marketers in the automotive industry, we consider it our responsibility to test out new add-ons and developments for any digital marketing tool, but especially add-ons created by Google for pay-per-click.

The “bells and whistles” of a new PPC add-on or extension could sound like the next epic marketing tool, but these extensions have to be tested for their effectiveness, so we truly know if they will be beneficial to our car dealers’ budgets.

Let’s face it – PPC budgets are notoriously known to be expensive in the automotive industry

Thousands of dollars are spent by dealers to reach customers that they hope are ready to make a purchase immediately, but without the proper strategy behind that budget, more often than not, marketing dollars are wasted.

At Dealer Authority, we have found that the knee-jerk reaction to insist that a car dealer needs to increase their monthly budget in order to gain the conversions they are looking for is FALSE.

If the investment you are already making IS NOT resulting in KPIs being met this means that your keyword strategy and most likely your ad delivery is not correct.

Many of our competitors rely on automation to tell them what would be the best keywords to target for a dealer; however, at Dealer Authority, we find that automation does nothing but waste money.


Stop wasting money on ads that are not converting to qualified leads

For example, we recently brought on a new dealer that was spending $8,000 a month on Google Ads and was still struggling to reach their monthly goals. Once they came on-board as a Dealer Authority client, our team was able to hone in on just the search terms that would result in qualified leads. We were also able to REDUCE their pay-per-click budget to $3,500, resulting in a savings of $4,500 per month for the dealership. 

Saving money for the dealer and giving them better results for less is the reason why Dealer Authority exists.

Are you paying attention?

Would you like to save more money on your Google Ads too? Great! Now, let’s talk about the pay-per-click ads that we see are working for car dealerships.

What Makes Up the Best Automotive PPC Strategy

for Car Dealers in 2023?

While traditional search campaigns can still deliver stellar results (when managed properly, of course) Google has released a few new campaign types that can truly set a competitive edge for dealers looking to get aggressive.

We highly recommend the following campaigns for dealers searching for a well-rounded automotive PPC strategy in 2023:

  • Performance Max
  • Custom Intent Display
  • Vehicle Listing Ads
  • Customer Match


performance max campaigns for car dealerships

Performance Max Campaigns for Car Dealerships

Quickly becoming one of our top-performing automotive PPC strategies, a Google Performance Max campaign increases the visibility of your brand and inventory across all Google platforms with a single effort. Maximize your reach in front of hundreds of millions of potential customers and drive traffic to your website and showroom.

You’ll get in front of more converting customers with a Performance Max campaign displayed on all of the following Google properties:

  • YouTube
  • Display (Mobile devices and apps + millions of partnering websites, blogs, and videos)
  • Google Search
  • Discover (Google app)
  • Gmail
  • Google Maps
  • Google Business Profile

On average our Performance Max campaigns have delivered traffic with an average CPC of $0.65 – $1.10 and a CTR of 3% – 14%.

Keep Competitors on the Ropes with Custom Intent Display Campaigns

Custom Intent audiences allow you to use your competitors’ first-party data for targeting, keeping you a step ahead of the competition.

You can reach your ideal audience by targeting your competitor’s URLs. You can then use this data to create Custom Intent Display ads, which are the online equivalent of guiding car shoppers away from your competitor’s front door and into yours. 

Google will show your ads on the Display Network to people who browse your competition’s websites or similar sites. The Display Network is a collection of websites—including specific Google websites like Google Finance, Gmail, Blogger, and YouTube—that show ads. This network also includes mobile sites and apps.

We have seen some amazing results from Custom Intent Display campaigns, and the traffic is not only extremely targeted but very affordable as well.  

On average, we are seeing a CPC of $0.40 or less and an average CTR of 1.20% from this automotive PPC strategy.

Google Vehicle Listing Ads

Google Vehicle Listing Ads

Google Vehicle Listing ads are the ideal way to put your real-time inventory in front of low-funnel shoppers. This ad format allows you to promote your entire new and used selection of vehicles to interested customers who are actively shopping for a vehicle on Google. Vehicle Listing Ads are performance-focused, containing valuable and detailed vehicle information for shoppers to consider.

Get in front of online car shoppers at the right time with the right vehicle listings and information. The benefits of this automotive PPC strategy speak for themselves, but here’s what you’ll enjoy:

  • Increase qualified leads by giving your customers the key vehicle details and info they need.
  • Drive sales through omnichannel goals, optimizing for both online conversions (leads) and offline conversions (store visits).
  • Automated targeting shows only your most relevant listings based on the user search query.
  • Your Vehicle Listings are served right alongside your traditional text ads on Google, reinforcing your brand and messaging.

While Vehicle Listing Ads are still new to the industry, we are very pleased with the results we have been able to deliver to our clients. We are seeing an average CPC of $0.60 – $1.00 and an average CTR of 0.80% – 1.5%.


Google prefers natural images and doesn’t allow Vehicle Listing Ads to run for products (vehicle inventory) using overlays on the photos. Save some money and skip the overlay graphics!

Customer Match

Customer Match is a targeting tool that, when applied to Google, helps your dealership deliver a tailored message to customers that have engaged with your dealership. Customer Match uses first-party data you collect through your online and offline data to reach and re-engage with your customers across Search, Gmail, YouTube, the Shopping tab, and Display. The benefits of using Customer Match include stronger performance, better experience, and maximum exposure.

Using first-party information that your customers have shared with you, Customer Match will target your ads to those customers and customers like them. The size of your Customer Match campaign is limited to the size of the customer list and needs at least 1,000 contacts to get started.  You can target past customers, upsell for Service and Parts, and reach customers with expiring leases, to name a few. 

Similar to retargeting or remarketing, Customer Match is a great automotive PPC strategy for a variety of dealership campaigns for when you want to reengage a specific segment of your customers. Events and other promotions that work best with this type of targeting include:

  • Buyback events
  • Lease special promos
  • Financing specials
  • Upcoming lease expirations 

Consider it a direct mail campaign just through Google Ads instead of your local mail carrier, with more detailed targeting.

While the amount of traffic a Customer Match campaign can deliver depends on the size of your list, we have seen some extremely good results with an average CTR of 5% and higher and an average CPC of $0.75 or less. 


Because you can parse out your customer list so specifically with Customer Match campaigns, the messaging can be significantly more targeted for niche audiences.

How do we feel about Smart Campaigns? 

Dreaded automation – insert gasp here – but we wouldn’t be true digital marketers if we didn’t give it a chance, so we did.

We tested it, and we found it — wanting.

In our humble opinion, Smart Campaigns were created for the business that just wants to spray their marketing message out into the internet and just see what happens.

For car dealers, this ad type WOULD NOT be our automotive PPC strategy suggestion. Google completely automates Smart Campaigns. You cannot select the keywords you want to target, but you can create custom copy for your ads (so at least that is a plus).


Skip Smart Campaigns altogether and if a vendor suggests them to you because they’ve seen a ‘high CTR’ – RUN.

Tired of wasting your dealership’s marketing budget? We can help.

Pay-per-click is an advertising option for car dealerships that can be highly effective if implemented correctly.

Our PPC team has a collective of 20 years working in pay-per-click, and most of that time was spent in the automotive industry. We have the knowledge and the tools to decrease your budget and increase your leads, so let’s make this happen. Stop waiting to “see what happens next month” and contact Dealer Authority today for a powerful and budget-friendly automotive PPC strategy.

Start a custom digital marketing strategy strategy with Dealer Authority.