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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: 3493

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


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Comment by Philip Moore on June 27, 2012 at 1:58pm
Good point Keith,
I'm curious if Google would rely on the dealer to proactively clean up their inventory or would demand direct access to the DMS to ensure that the vehicles offered by the dealer in the new listing were actually available?
Comment by Keith Shetterly on June 27, 2012 at 1:49pm

Philip, it's not semantics--there were online threads with over 100,000 views on this site and others (300 is considered a "good" blog audience) about the difference.  Essentially, DMS access to just the same info as the inventory provider would be the same--but DMS access by TrueCar, etc. was essentially not trusted (and demonstrated not to be, in some cases, at least at first) to necessarily be restricted to just that.  The "TrueCar-ness" (new word!! :) of Google in this case is kind of like a new player stepping between the dealer and the customer, yet again, for their own profit.  thanks!

Comment by Philip Moore on June 27, 2012 at 1:15pm


I think we're talking semantics.  Yes, the same feed that you use to send your active inventory and asking price to Autotrader (if you still use Autotrader after this gets popular) would go to Google's API.  I suspect they are starting with new cars so they can use stock vehicle photos.  Once this is up and running, I could see them figuring out how to manage photos of specific vehicles and incorporating used listings as well.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on June 27, 2012 at 1:03pm

Philip, why would inventory require DMS access ala anybody?  The same inventory feed from your mgt. company that goes to your website could be used, right?  That's what happens with Autotrader, for example.  Thanks!

Comment by Philip Moore on June 27, 2012 at 12:55pm


My interpretation of Brian's original article suggests that dealers will have to provide Google with DMS feeds to participate in the program (ala TrueCar).  So in order to get enough new car inventory for the tool to be useful, they will need significant dealer participation within each market.

Comment by Cliff Banks on June 27, 2012 at 9:30am

Brian, any insight into how Google plans to get the inventory?

BTW, great stuff -- keep it coming.

Comment by Brian Pasch on June 27, 2012 at 9:10am


I have been given some additional information on the product offering but little information on how they plan to deal with states that may not allow a pay per lead model.  

What is really interesting is the proxy system they have put in place.  Will consumer want to see that type of cloaked shopping service for other industries? 

Comment by Keith Shetterly on June 27, 2012 at 8:39am

Exactly, Ryan.  Exactly!  

Comment by Ryan Leslie on June 27, 2012 at 8:35am

SEO is their "fair chance" that (so far) has helped keep them out of some very hot "consumer advocate" water

Check this out:

As far as SEO being the backbone of the "fair search" defense, I think you are on to something when you say "(so far)."

Thanks for the discussion and great post Brian.

Comment by Cliff Banks on June 27, 2012 at 8:32am

At first glance, I see Google's move as a direct threat to TrueCar, AutoTrader and, despite the difference in revenue models (pay per lead vs. subscription). I'm surprised it's taken them this long to make this move.

One question I do have is -- how is Google going to get the inventory listings?

Also, will Google run into problems with its pay per lead model?


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