It’s no secret that ad spend in the digital advertising space has been steadily growing over traditional media.  Historically, marketers have relied heavily on traditional media such as newspaper, broadcast TV and direct mail to reach their audiences.  Even experienced marketers occasionally struggle to identify which tactics to use to capitalize on the best media choice.  But, we now know that taking advantage of targeted digital media is often more effective over traditional.


In a recent study released by PCG Research, Brian Pasch outlines the importance of knowing how to properly create, monitor, review and make changes to a Google AdWords campaign for ultimate success.  In the study, we learn that 94% of franchise dealers view Google AdWords not only as necessary, but a required part of their advertising investment for their dealerships (Pasch 2016).

Based on Brian’s research, we see a great amount of opportunity to optimize SEM spend and strategy so any dealership that wishes to improve can use what is said here to better optimize and review its existing processes and grow ROI.  Doing so only requires taking a few steps back to gauge the existing digital automotive landscape.  Due to changing car shopper behavior, we’re seeing fewer “traditional” leads (e.g. phone calls, emails or online forms) being received, which has been the automotive industry’s historical way of measuring success of online advertising. dealers have generally relied on to measure success.  The method of determining the quality of those leads varies based on how dealers choose to examine success.

Most importantly, we must shift our focus from the quantity of leads received to the quality of those leads.  Google AdWords, traditionally run by an agency for the dealership, provides reporting on the success of their AdWords buys. But this reporting is often lacking in insights and next steps to improve ad spend. Dealers must work with their agency to ensure they get proper updates and reporting to make the necessary changes to any AdWords campaign to ultimately move the most metal and use ad dollars wisely.  While seeing that their number of impressions and sessions continually goes up each month is great, without vision into what those consumers are clicking on, what pages they land on, or the actions consumers are taking, dealers may be wasting valuable time and money as the conversions may be non-existent.

We are left with a few options to ensure success.  A plan must be put in place to have a successful Google AdWords campaign:

  • Create goals for the campaign. Dealers need to ask themselves what the conversion goals are that they want for the ad buy and ultimately what action they want consumers to take when landing on the dealer’s website.  These goals must be communicated to the agency managing the keyword buys to see that alignment is created between these two actions.
  • Create a review process. Based on the keyword buys, ensure keywords purchased match the goals of conversion.  Ensure that consumers are landing where they want to land when clicking through to the website, ultimately on a VDP.
  • Education on Google AdWords. Not all reporting is created equal that is provided by agencies.  Learning how to read reporting and what metrics provide the most insight into the success of a Google AdWords campaign is vital.  Without insight into the keywords purchased and without metrics on actions taken, there’s no direction on how to best optimize any Google AdWords campaign.
  • Speak with the Google AdWords/agency rep. Create a dialogue with the proper representative to ensure they know the goals that need to be achieved so they can help setup a successful campaign.  By working together here, it may help mitigate continual asks to increase ad spend if there’s transparency into how the campaign is progressing, either upward or downward in success.
  • Speak up. If there is anything missing in the relationship with Google AdWords or the agency or from within reporting, dealers must feel that they can say something.  Digital ad spend is continuing to rise and, after all, dealers are the ones paying for a service to ultimately move metal.
  • Create a process to quickly make changes. If the results a dealer wants are not being achieved, a process needs to be in place on how to make the proper word choices based on what materials are around you to inform those changes.  Merging Google AdWords with Google Analytics to see a holistic picture of AdWords campaigns, for instance, is a quick way to see the success of buys.  Make sure that an account is created that provides a view into the campaign.  When in doubt, research online for the proper questions to ask your reps or seek guidance from other sources, like your representative.

In coming weeks, we will be breaking down Google AdWords’ ability to help dealers be more successful in building and measuring the ROI of their marketing investment, particularly by looking at quality indicators and provide more insight into the questions that need to be asked for successful Google AdWords campaigns.