Google Launches Automotive Industry Mobile Ads

Google continues to refine its industry-specific products and has just released mobile automotive ads in the US.

While the initiative was first launched in beta in May 2015 the general release to the US market is a big step and signifies its success.

Having a mobile-specific strategy is now critical to the auto industry, with Google reporting that half the automotive searches it sees (including those for make and model) now occur on smartphones*. Year on year, this represents a 51% increase.

The ads feature large-format images, performance details and links to the manufacturer’s website, nearby dealers and other information.


According to the Google announcement search interest for “car dealerships near me” has doubled in the past year, with interest in dealer phone numbers up nearly 80 percent year over year. Dealer automotive ads at the top of mobile search results capture this growing opportunity, featuring the location, directions, and a click-to-call button for nearby dealerships.

Dionne Colvin-Lovely, director of traditional and new media at Toyota Motor Sales USA says of the new ad format “Across our core line of car models, we’ve seen a 45-percent increase in conversion events and a 30 percent decrease in CPA compared to standard text ads”. Google goes further and says that engagement rates have been 30 percent higher for the new larger formatted ads compared to standard text ads.

Why should you care?

Should you care about a product update in the US for AdWords? In this instance, the answer is a resounding yes if you are in the automotive industry.

The move from Google highlights the critical importance of a strong mobile strategy for dealers and OEM distributors.

Searches for ‘car dealers near me’ are up 80 percent year on year. This fact alone should be a warning to all dealerships as to the importance of local SEO and of having a mobile-friendly website. Long gone are the days where you can take a full page ad in the Saturday paper and watch the punters roll in the door over the weekend.

Enterprising automotive marketers in NZ can capitalise on any slow-to-respond competitors by allocating a small percentage of their offline spend to optimising their sites for location-based searches. They can then increase their chances of capturing high-value prospects: people on mobiles who are ‘in the moment’, actively looking for a yard near them.

* Google internal data, United States, February 2016

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About the Author Glenn Marvin

Glenn is a Partner and Senior Consultant who has had a very successful career building growth companies in the private equity arena. He has a wealth of experience in both the digital space and strategy development. Prior to becoming a partner in SureFire Glenn built one of the largest digital teams in New Zealand for a NASDAQ listed global online marketing company & Google's largest premium partner.

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