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Google Enters New Car Lead Generation Business

Another prediction that I wrote about has come true.  Change is in the air again at Google.  Paid Search just took a big step forward or backwards, depending on how you think.  It's called "Google Commercial Unit For Cars".


In November 2011, I wrote about a product called "Google Advisor" which will change the landscape of paid search marketing for new car sales.    

It has taken a very long time for this product to get off the ground.  This type of product has been around in the mortgage lead generation business for years.


Well the Google Advisor product for automotive leads is here and it has a more common name: Google Cars.


I finally was able to see the product live today and so can you.  Just change your browser location to Zip Code 94301 and conduct a search on Google with this phrase:

Palo Alto Toyota

What you will see might shock you, as Google has clearly entered into the new car lead generation business.  I created a few screen shots to explain how the model works, and I am sure this will be evolving.  I would love to get your opinion on this strategy and if you would be interested in testing this new service.

San Francisco Bay Beta Test of Google Cars


Currently, this product is only available in the San Francisco Bay area.  We will find out when this will open up to other markets.   This is only for new cars and it requires a dealer to provide and inventory feed of their new cars.


According to my sources,  this product is focused on lower sales funnel queries meaning the buyer has already decided on a brand and a model to purchase.   So it will not be showing up for all automotive search queries, just a subset that Google believes have already made a brand/model selection.

Google Cars Inventory Model Results Page


When you Click on the first photo of the Toyota Camry in the red box above, you will be shown this page 


Google Cars Pricing Info


If you click on the "Google Price Info" link, you might get a chill down your spine, like TrueCar did for car dealers.  


The Google Price popup box is shown on the right.  If you click on the "Learn More" link, you can read about how these prices are determined.


The "regional price paid" data according to Google comes from data shared by dealers to the DMV in their state.   Here is what Google says:


Regional price paid tells you how much the vehicle you want tends to sell for in your area. It is calculated from real new car sales in your area over the past 90 days, as reported by dealers to the DMV.


Regional price paid is specific to the make, model, trim, packages, and options shown. It includes destination charge; it excludes taxes and fees. It may include incentives and other promotions running at that time that may have impacted the average price paid."


Google Cars VDP


When you you click on a specific vehicle, you will be taken to a VDP page that looks like this:

Google Cars Email Contact Options


And when you click to contact the dealer, you have three options.  Clicking on the "Email Dealer" choice reveals this screen.

Notice that the consumer can easily select other local dealers to quote on the same vehicle.  


Communication Via Proxies


I was able to confirm that this is a pay per lead model and user contact information is not shared, all communications will go through proxies.  Take a peek at the image above to see the statement "Google protects you from spam".



This is an attempt to limit spam to consumers from dealers. Read the information on this link:


This adds a degree of complexity since normal CRM workflows and contact strategies will be impacted by lack of direct phone number via proxies.  This means that leads generated by the program will really need to be worked to get direct contact information before the proxy period expires.


I will be working to get the information you need to prepare for this new opportunity in new car vehicle marketing.  If you have any specific questions, let me know.  You can send me an email to:


In the meantime, I'll be busy researching this and getting the facts.   Keep in mind that at AutoCon 2012 will have 3 deep dive workshops on all the latest paid search strategies that car dealers can leverage.




Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing

Brian Pasch 


Views: 3502

Tags: google advisor automotive, google automotive lead generation, google cars


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Comment by Ed Brooks on July 4, 2012 at 2:26pm


I'm curious, was your lead submitted thru a Google account or another email? The reason I ask is the review promises to be anonymous, as opposed to the standard Google rating process. If you don't need to use a Google account and the reviewer remains anonymous, this would simply open the door to abuse.

Comment by Tom Gorham on July 4, 2012 at 11:00am

@Dan Dulgheru, thanks for showing that.  I really like this concept.  Could have profound consequences for Reputation Management.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on July 4, 2012 at 8:21am

I'm thinking that this is a huge development against DealerRater, etc.  And not just in automotive, as they roll this out further into other retail markets.

For us, it is a giant motivator for dealers to participate in Google's lead service.  If your competitor is doing it, and showing reviews, you'll need to do it or be asked why.

If I were Autotrader, as well, I'd be looking at the horsepower of this pilot program in a very competitive way.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on July 4, 2012 at 4:29am


Comment by Dan Dulgheru on July 4, 2012 at 2:48am

Today i received this email from Google Advisor .

What about automotive ZMOT changes?

Comment by Jason Manning on June 30, 2012 at 8:36pm
Totally agree with your input, Brian. Thank you. I see a lot of "path of least resistance" mentality in dealers owners and managers. I appreciate your educational efforts for our industry. I have heard great feedback from your presentations.
Comment by Tom Gorham on June 30, 2012 at 5:46pm

Ralph, I was just curious.  I remembered that happening at the time and there was just so much hostility from dealers. 

Yes, CarsDirect had those dreams as well but they didn't work out.  I still wonder if that became a looooong term goal for some people or companies and is still being seriously considered or nurtured as a dream for the future.  Just because it didn't work then, doesn't mean it won't work in the future with the many advances we've had and changes in consumer attitude toward the Internet.

Chat didn't work out for my dealership in 2003 but it's working now.  Things and people change.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on June 30, 2012 at 12:27pm

Tom Gorham - The "Ford Collection" experiment in company owned stores was not connected in any way to FordDirect... In fact, FordDirect could almost be described as the polar opposite of Ford Collection! FordDirect was initially set up as a joint venture between Ford Motor Company and Ford Dealers that invested in the company.  It has evolved since then, but the origi9nal purpose was to create a dealer owned entity that could sell cars online and compete with CarsDirect, which was viewed as a serious threat to the franchised dealership model at that time.  GM experimented with company owned dealerships, as did Ford and others, but each OEM walked away after suffering major financial losses on their various company owned dealership experiments.

Comment by Brian Pasch on June 30, 2012 at 8:11am


Yes it is frustrating when people overlay their own personal shopping behavior on the whole market.  The nice thing about Adwords or other paid search strategies is that it is trackable.  The leads and phone calls clearly indicate that it works.  If you can generate mobile leads at $5 a person, why would you rather spend $20-$150 from other sources. 

Comment by Keith Shetterly on June 30, 2012 at 6:38am

Brian, I still hear folks say "Nobody clicks on the paid search results, as everybody knows they've paid to get to the top." . . . well, the $42billion that Google made last year came from SOMEbody clicking.

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