Dealership MarketingIndustry News & Trends

Google Enters Into The Automotive Lead Business

In February 2010 Google made a presentation to a select group of industry leaders about their foray into automotive lead generation. I was not in attendance but I was briefed on the program at the show. I never heard any more about the details until today’s post in Automotive News.

I am sure that Google has briefed the major automotive vendors that run Adwords campaign for thousands of car dealers about this change. However the larger community needs to know about this major shift in new car lead generation strategies.

In my opinion, this is a major SHIFT for the Google Automotive team which has not gone into direct vehicle lead generation until now. I look forward to interviewing and discussing this new program with the Google Automotive Team at the 2012 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference.

Lead Generation Is Not New For Google

Google has been running lead generation campaigns for other vertical markets, like mortgages. If you look at the screen capture below, Google is running their own PPC ads to capture leads:

Google Comparison Ads for Mortgages

These ads are labeled “Comparison Ads” and these ads are competing with other PPC lead collectors. When a consumer clicks on the PPC Comparison Ad for mortgages, a landing page for lead collection is displayed:

Google PPC Lead Generation For Car Dealers
Lead Generation For Dealers

According to the Automotive News article written by David Barkholz:

“Google will establish a Web page for vehicle shoppers. Dealers will bid, through a Google auction, to be one of about three dealers listed on the page when shoppers fill out a discounted price request for, say, a 2012 Toyota Camry with some specifications. The shoppers choose which of the listed dealers will receive the lead and provide the price…”

This will be a game changer for businesses that use PPC for lead generation. Companies like Edmunds, Autotrader, and new comers like TrueCar that all use PPC as part of their lead generation strategy for new car buyers will be impacted.

Competition for new car leads just got more interesting, and for some, maybe more expensive.

Google Lead Generation Via Adwords
This offering will need to be examined in greater detail when this official launches this in the Bay Area. We will have more details on this new offering after we get a briefing from the automotive team at Google.

How do you see this impacting your dealership?

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    Mike
  • November 8, 2011
Google is starting to look like one of those companies that isn't quite sure what business they're in. They run the network and have, step by step, become less agnostic and begun to compete with their own customers - the Advertisers like TrueCar/Edmunds/AutoTrader and the like. I'm very keen to see what reaction the industry will have to this step.
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    JQ
  • November 8, 2011
Brian -- do you foresee that dealers now either directly engaged in PPC or engaged through a vendor will be competing against Google in the current space?   Or will this be more of it's own classified venture, ala Cars.com and AT, with Google's auction-based PPC model contained within the new program?
R
Where is Joe Pistell? He has been raising this flag on Refresh for almost a year. Joe, what are your thoughts on this?
J
Hi Ryan, thnx for remembering all my work on this.

I'm on vacation now, I'll dive into this 1st thing when I return.
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    Brian Pasch
  • November 9, 2011
Joe, you are never on vacation!   JQ, they are definitely going to step on some toes here.  Will the OEM's move to this model?

I would like to know what the 3rd party lead collectors are thinking because it is directly competing with some of the largest PPC spenders in automotive, like and Edmunds.   What about Tier 2 Ad Agencies?

Dealers who participate in these new ads may be doubling up their PPC spending for certain keywords.  I need to better understand how this will and what keywords kick this ad in.
For example, running Adwords and Adwords Express at the same time, which I recommend, needs a strategy.  Keywords that kick-off Adwords Express ads like dealer name and brand, should be eliminated from Adwords.  This of course is based on the believe that advertising your ratings is a stronger ad than a normal Adwords ad.   So in the same way, you will have to see how strong of a lead generator these ads will be.Will consumers shopping for a car have the same desire to fill-out these leads forms as those shopping for a mortgage?  

Joe, what say you...
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    Jeff T
  • November 9, 2011
Old news....
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    Jeff T
  • November 9, 2011
In fact this is already running in select Southern California markets for Lexus and Toyota as a beta
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    Brian Pasch
  • November 9, 2011
Jeff, do you have a search example that will show us the ad format?
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    Jeff T
  • November 10, 2011
I'll see if I can dig up a screenshot, but it was enacted for select keywords and keyword phrases.  It was rolled out on a very small scale "to test the waters" similar to used/new car images in product-feed-based PPC ads were for a blink, (Standard for small retail items like cameras, etc...) however autos were later dis-allowed.  But I know of a few dealers who were privy to this at Lexus and there was some uneasiness.  Plus, didn't you post something similar to this back in Feb? Specifically referencing a 2010 Automotive News Story http://bit.ly/tiAMbt  
The bigger story is Facebook's new push into autos and the platform they are going to be rolling out for automotive retailers.
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    Jeff T
  • November 10, 2011
Wrong link... This was the story: 
http://bit.ly/fIR1ot 
On February 7th, 2011
I gather a follow up to the one just put out the 7th of November
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    Brian Pasch
  • November 10, 2011
Jeff
I did write about in after NADA in February this year but never saw another more come up of the program until this week with Automotive News.  I tried a few searches in Southern California  and couldn't trigger the ads, so if you can get a search phrase to work, that would be great, and send me a screenshot.
D
Google was at 2010 NADA mining for the next Big Thing in Internet Marketing as it relates to Automotive.  I attended the Google Auto conference (via live web cast) when they discussed research they had been doing as a result.

A very interesting conversation I had with Google after 2010 NADA had them term projects Auto Buyer Consultants submitted to them upon request after speaking at NADA, - as one of Google's Biz Development Directors termed it "...social media for auto retail".

Although Google is a BIG name online, they haven't been able to get any product to rival their search success.  And, the entire Google Auto team was made up of female execs (primarily with little hands-on auto retail experience) at the time of the conference.  I found this a distinct irony, and very possibly a red flag about their understanding of the segment.

One thing about Automotive Internet Marketing I have found, is there are plenty of marketers from other segments (or, from no segment at all) who attempt to delve into the space.  Among the likes of these, very few have been as successful as the Brian Pasch's of the world at garnering a loyal following.

As a pioneer in the Internet Sales, Business Development and Auto Internet Marketing space, I shared with Google the same thing I have shared with industry pro's since 2004 at NADA - "The Future is an Amusement Park".  Auto Retail Future is a virtual space that will support virtual communities of consumers online.  Auto Retail Past was a physical space, and a sales delivery channel developed to support physical communities of consumers before the emergence of the World Wide Web.

Allow me to venture to guess that Google's bet on Automotive Marketing will falter badly unless they really invest in the hands-on experience of professionals successfully retailing autos via the web each day.  We are still dealing with the Internet as an adolescent, as far as the age of online auto retailing goes, and almost no adolescent I have ever met has all the answers.

To that point, I am very reluctant to believe Google can successfully diagnose where auto retail is going online.  It will be like Graphic Designers building a Roller Coaster.  The picture may seem perfect, but the engineering almost certainly shall prove lacking.

Finally, about two weeks after arriving back from NADA in February when I had the conversation with Google about their interest in the auto retail segment, I reneged when asked form more information about my Virtual Dealership model "implementation plans and revenue models".  They sent me an NDA right away.  Google can't steal the knowledge necessary to understand the intricacies of "the handshake" necessary to power this industry.

"Auto Retail Future is an Amusement Park", and it will feature a deliberate movement from 'on the parkway' to 'on the Internet' in the entire scheme of things.  But, it will also surface as much more experiential point of sale on the local level.  That being said, I would tend to agree that Facebook is much more positioned for a significant run at successfully leveraging the shift.
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