What Google’s New Auto Ads Mean to Your Digital Strategy

Just when you think you’ve nailed down your digital marketing strategy, Google makes a major update. Let’s dive into this new game-changing Vehicle Ads program and see what it means for your dealership.

Driving Shoppers from Screens to Showrooms

A Google Automotive Shopper Study found that over 95% of vehicle buyers go online when they’re considering an automobile purchase. Naturally, every dealership wants a big slice of that pie, and many have created digital marketing plans to get their inventory in front of as many eyes as possible.

Search engine optimized websites and well-crafted landing pages have proven instrumental in helping auto dealers rise through the search engine rankings. And there is no indication that this will change anytime soon.

So what is Google’s new Vehicle Ads, and how will it alter the search engine result page landscape?

Google vehicle Ads in a Nutshell

Google describes its recently-launched program as a “performance-based, lower-funnel ad format.” It allows dealerships to directly promote their inventory. The ad block appears at the top of the search results page typically when a user queries a local (“near me”) search for a vehicle.

For example, say a buyer has researched three-row SUVs and has decided on a Hyundai Palisade. When they’re ready to test drive and make a purchase, they’ll begin typing “Hyundai Palisade” in the search bar, and Google typically autocompletes with “near me.”

The results will show a block of ads at the top of the SERP showing new and used Hyundai Palisades in the buyer’s area. Each ad displays a photo of the vehicle, plus important information such as

  • The vehicle’s make, model, and model year
  • Price
  • Condition (new or used) and mileage
  • Dealership information
  • Geographic location

As you can see, this is a blessing for car shoppers. The most pertinent information is displayed right on their computer, tablet, or phone screen. They get to see the car before deciding whether they want to click the ad and get more information about that vehicle directly from the dealership.

That direct line from SERP to buyer is great for auto dealers, too. Google lists among the key benefits:

  • More qualified leads
  • Omni-channel optimization for online conversions (leads) and offline conversions (showroom visits)
  • Automated targeting showing the dealership’s most relevant vehicle listing in a query
  • Increased exposure with Vehicle Ads appearing with your text ads on the SERP

How Do Google Vehicle Ads Work?

Much of the setup process will seem familiar if you’ve been running campaigns through Google Ads. However, if you want your dealership to appear in the Vehicle Ads block at the top of search results, you’ll need a Merchant Center account that links to your Google Ads and Business Profile.

Once you’re set up, you’ll need to upload your dealership’s vehicle data to the Merchant Center. Your data feed must include relevant details about the vehicles (make/model, price, mileage, color, year, etc.). Your feed can consist of both new and used vehicles, or you can choose to advertise only your new models.

This may very well be the most tedious part, as your inventory feed must be verified by Google and continue to stay on good terms in order for your ads to show.

With everything in place, you’ll set up a Smart Shopping (a.k.a. Performance Max) campaign in your Google Ads account. Like other ad campaigns, you can set your bid strategy and track performance.

Promising Results

As a participant in the alpha and beta testing programs, dbaPlatform offered insight into the kinds of results dealerships might expect from Vehicle Ads program. Highlights include:

  • 2,160% increase in vehicle detail page views
  • form fills increased by 47%
  • 13% increase in phone calls

Get Started Today With Dealer Authority

Vehicle Ads offer a payload of benefits to shoppers and dealerships. However, getting your campaigns up and running is still a complicated and time-consuming process.

If you’re ready to get started with Vehicle Ads on Google, reach out to our experts. We’ll handle the heavy lifting while you reap the benefits.