Dealers race to keep pace with Google marketing

on May9


What does the “www” in Web addresses stand for?

Says one digital ad expert playfully: “wild, wild west.”

Joking aside, that’s how it can seem for dealers who hawk their inventory in the digital realm each day, especially in the noisy bazaars and shadowy alleyways controlled by Google.

The search giant’s evolving portfolio of marketing options can be a treasure trove for dealers who skillfully wield its tools.

But there’s a catch: Stores and their vendors have to keep track of the whirlwind of advancements or get left behind in a cloud of digital dust.

In the area of search advertising — where marketers bid for the privilege of having their ads appear prominently among the search results for a particular word or phrase — Google has introduced a number of AdWords extensions to help businesses grab attention and communicate directly with consumers.

For example, on-the-go shoppers can now correspond with salespeople via text thanks to the click-to-text ad extension, which went live last fall. This feature can appeal to shoppers who are looking for information, but aren’t ready to speak to a salesperson.

Google also rolled out price extensions last year that let dealers present vehicle price tags as part of the search ads.

The real estate within search ads is changing, too.

Google made modifications to its AdWords format in late July that gives retailers more characters to work with. Instead of having one 25-character headline, the new format moved to two headlines of 30 characters each that allow dealerships to write more attention-grabbing headlines. Plus, the description section became one consolidated 80-character line, a shift from the previous two 35-character lines.

All that creates more ways and space for a dealership to tell its story, but it’s also more space to fill with just the right mix of words. That is, the more flexible Google becomes, the more challenging it can be for a marketer unaccustomed to keeping current with the changes.

And that’s not all.

Leto, Google’s head of industry, automotive retail sales

Dealers have to be mindful of where their display ads are showing up because of AdSense, the automated ad placement service that funnels targeted pitches to Web surfers based on their browsing history, location or other profile information. If not, stores could find themselves unwittingly marketing alongside offensive content that’s an affront to their company values. 

Add to that the heavy shift toward mobile and video advertising. 

With so many changes, Google is hitting the road to connect with dealers and advise them on how to best use its products. 

“We’re looking to continually improve our relationship there,” Peter Leto, Google’s head of industry, automotive retail sales, told Automotive News. “We’re doing our best to be out in the marketplace and attend as many events as we can to be in front of dealers to share best practices. Additionally, we’re getting feedback: What can we be doing better?”

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