Many dealers utilize vendor partners that specifically manage their Google AdWords campaigns; buying, monitoring and reporting.  Indeed, these vendor partners are important because of the hectic day-to-day schedules dealers have — it’s one less thing to worry about.  Those partners that provide invaluable insight into Google AdWords, provide regular updates on campaign successes and thorough ROI reporting should be applauded.  However, for every great vendor partner who does this, there are those out there who don’t provide the same level of transparency that is necessary for dealers today.  It’s important to know which one a dealer has.

There exists today a double standard with vendor partners and dealers.  According to PCG Research (2016), Google has a published set of advertising standards that all third party vendor partners should adhere to when buying or managing Google AdWords business for any customer.  One might assume that as a dealer customer of such a vendor partner, that his/her dealership is covered by these guidelines.  In most cases, though, dealers ARE NOT covered if they are using an OEM approved partner who directly invoices the dealership through their parts statement.  Here in lies the issue, when a vendor partner is approved by an OEM, they sign an agreement with the OEM.  The partner then sees the OEM as their customer, not the dealers for whom they manage a Google AdWords campaign.  This can result in a lack of accountability of the vendor partner to an individual dealership.

But, it may be asked, “Why does it matter if I’m getting the results I want from my Google AdWords campaign?”  Well, it matters if a dealer is continually charged or asked for an increase in spend when the reporting and success of their AdWords campaign isn’t as transparent as it needs to be or explanations for an increase in spend aren’t given.  When reviewing some reporting from vendor partners, majority of these reports provide quantity metrics.  Metrics that show an increase in visits, sessions, and click-throughs to a dealer’s website.  While on the surface this looks great; “I see that I’m up from last month or that I’m up year-over-year,” “That justifies spending more money as I’m getting more of what I want,” so to speak.  However, not all reporting is created equal as a lack of quality within those quantity metrics can show the disconnect in the Google AdWords campaign.

Questions to Ask about Reporting

  • Is it apparent the keywords purchased that drove the increase in sessions or visits?
  • Is there insight into how long those keywords ran?
  • Do those keywords match the goals set at the beginning of the campaign?
  • Were conversion goals even set?
  • If keywords purchased match goals set, is there insight into actions taken after clicking on a keyword?
  • Were VDP visits up?
  • Were lead forms submitted?

If a dealer can’t answer these questions, then it’s time to speak with the vendor partner to make sure there is alignment on the approach to the Google AdWords campaign against the dealership’s goals.  If there isn’t, or if explanation isn’t given, it’s time to question the spend and the actions taken by the vendor partner.  There are things dealers can do on their end to better educate themselves into the Google AdWords world and, indeed, into SEM (search engine marketing) as a whole.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • How comfortable do I feel reading Google Analytics?
  • How comfortable do I feel reading Google AdWords?
  • Does my vendor partner allow me access to see what they are doing in Google AdWords?
  • Can I merge Google Analytics and Google AdWords for more transparency to be successful?
  • Can I hire someone internally to manage this relationship?

As mentioned earlier, dealers are not covered by the Google advertising standards in the majority of cases and when invoiced directly.  Often times, there are hidden management fees charged to the dealer for the vendor partner service that aren’t apparent.  As PCG Research (2016) states, “Because the dealer is getting billed through their parts statement, and the OEM has contracted with the agency for the service, dealers are not informed about how much of their budget goes to Google Advertising and how much goes to management fees.”  The use of dealer advertising dollars needs to be transparent and the reporting on the executed strategy must be thorough to make the most of dollars spent.

*Source Dealer Deployment of Google AdWords, PCG Research, 2016.