Google Partners Connect: Automotive Marketing Trends

Meaghan Butler, Paid Search Specialist at Ontario SEO
August 20, 2018
Google Partners Connect: Automotive Marketing Trends

On August 15th, the Ontario SEO Team took part in a Google Partners Connect event geared towards companies advertising in the automotive space. The informational broadcast was hosted by Alex Chen, Product Marketing Manager at Google, and featured speakers Rohit Bal and Spencer Lane. They provided valuable insight on consumer trends in vehicle shopping, and illustrated how we can provide a seamless, frictionless experience for users researching their next vehicle. Below, you’ll find some of our key takeaways from the presentation.

Understanding Today’s Vehicle Shoppers

The behaviours and expectations of automotive shoppers have changed significantly in the last 15 years. Where print and television media has traditionally informed their purchasing decisions, consumers are now going online to conduct the majority of their research. It goes without saying that as an auto dealer, your online presence is now more important than ever!

Shopping for a new vehicle rarely follows a linear path, but one thing is for sure – most consumers start their journey on Google. Knowing they can get answers in just seconds allows them to be more curious, performing individualized searches like “best vehicle for pets”. Consumers have come to expect personalized, locally relevant search results, even without specifying their location.

Best Vehicle For Pets search has grown nearly 80% in the last year

As an auto dealer, it’s important to be there for those critical “what car is best for me?” and “where should I buy?” moments, which can be the difference between a sale and a lost opportunity.

Top 4 Insights for Automotive Advertisers

  1. Embrace the “Virtual Showroom”

    Over the last few years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in “virtual test drives”. These are videos that allow consumers to view a vehicle inside and out, without ever leaving the comfort of their home. Interestingly, twice as many test drives occur online as in dealership lots! With consumers growing increasingly demanding & impatient, it is important for auto dealers to offer the information they’re looking for, when they’re looking for it. Virtual test drives also make for a great piece of content to advertise on YouTube and the Google Display Network.

    There are 2 times as many test drives on YouTube as there are on dealership lots

  2. Don’t Depend on Lead Gen Forms

    Lead generation forms are often considered the first step in the process of purchasing a vehicle. Dealers use them to get in touch with potential customers and drive sales forward. However, only 26% of people actually fill out a form in the six months before they buy. For this reason, Google Partners suggests tracking a wider variety of goals on your website, like phone calls and visits to Vehicle Detail Pages (VDPs). Tracking multiple goals and conversions lets you assess how different website actions contribute to a sale – which can help you to optimize your advertising campaigns.

    Define success metrics beyond lead form completions

  3. Remain “Top of Mind” with Remarketing

    Remarketing audiences are extremely valuable for auto dealers because for vehicle shoppers, the path to purchase often includes more than 20 touchpoints with your brand. With the Audiences feature in Google Ads, advertisers can capture anonymized lists of website visitors, and remarket to them via the search and/or display networks. This way, dealerships can keep their brand at the top of the consumer’s mind throughout their path to purchase.

    Target your most valuable audiences

  4. Abandon “Last Click” Attribution

    When the customer’s path to purchase includes so many touchpoints, it’s critical for advertisers that advertisers give appropriate credit to every step in the process, from awareness to purchase. The default setting in Google Ads campaigns is “last click” attribution, where the entire credit of a conversion or sale goes to the most recent ad clicked by the customer. This model doesn’t capture the value of touchpoints that occurred earlier in the process, which can be problematic when you are deciding where to invest time and money. Choosing an attribution model that better suits your business allows you to optimize your advertising budget and make more informed marketing decisions.

    Different attribution models beyond last-click


We look forward to seeing how these insights will benefit our clients in the automotive industry. If you’re interested in learning more, you can watch the entire Partners Connect presentation here:



Are you an automotive company looking to increase the ROI of your digital advertising campaigns? Ontario SEO has an expert team of Google Ads managers, and we would love to work with you, contact us today.