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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: 3495

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


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Comment by Keith Shetterly on June 28, 2012 at 4:15pm

Yeah.  We'll have to friend the dealership, put the dealership's DMS into a G+ circle, and friend the cars...

Comment by Ryan Leslie on June 28, 2012 at 4:10pm

I'm somewhere between "No worries, their motto is "Do No Evil," you can totally trust them" and "it's Google, they know EVERYTHING already!"

Betcha $10 in June 2013 we'll be discussing the new G+ DMS... ;)

Comment by Keith Shetterly on June 28, 2012 at 3:54pm

Great.  The ARE using the DMS.  Having studied (in some detail, I may say) how that is done, I'm not ready to just accept that they are only pulling only the n/c data.  Most times, a particular third-party DMS interface partner is contracted by the company (Google, in this case, and the third-party pulls it ALL, gives the company the piece they need, and that partner . . . well, that pesky agreement that says "may do whatever they want" seems to pop up.

I hope this is NOT the way that Google went.  Sigh.

Comment by Ed Brooks on June 28, 2012 at 3:11pm

Just posted on Search Engine Watch: Google Cars: New Sponsored Results Not Yet Generating Many Car Leads

"Google hasn’t officially announced Google Cars, so to find out how (or if) it’s working, I reached out to Jared Steika at Piercey Toyota, one of the participating dealerships. Steika referred to the new program as "Google Comparison Ads" a pay-per-lead product where Google is trying to compete with a or another similar service.
"Everyone goes through Google at some point, we'll see if they embrace Google as a lead source for car leads,” Steika said. “It's been less than a week since we've been live and we haven't seen many leads come in yet. Too early to tell if it's going to work or not."

"Steika and the whole Piercey Toyota team are very hopeful for the product. They didn't know off hand what the price of leads was but they mentioned it was affordable and comparable to other auto lead sources that they use."
Comment by Patrick Purrenhage on June 28, 2012 at 2:00pm

Like TrueCar, Google has nothing without participating dealers.  They have struggled a bit in getting inventory into this new model.  For years dealers have demanded phone numbers along with online leads. So, will dealers now suddenly accept online form leads without any phone number just because it is Google?

Comment by Jason Manning on June 27, 2012 at 8:53pm
Ahhh yes. Google making you believe that the future market is all local...and it is. Any questions? Dealers better get their local sh-- together. This has been coming. It's always been known by forward thinking businesses. It's always been here.
Comment by Ryan Leslie on June 27, 2012 at 2:57pm


A lot of conjecture yet, but that proxy system is likely to be an opportunity for dealers that have EXCELLENT process and a compelling unique selling proposition(USP) to win business from those that don't. Don't underestimate the allure of truly anonymous shopping to the consumer. I think they'll jump through a hoop or two if it means they retain their anonymity until they are ready to raise their hand. But it gets better for the dealer that has that USP dialed in...

Arnold Tijerina was the first I saw to highlight this line of text:

“If you see a particular car (specified by a unique VIN) showing in a dealer’s inventory, you may be able to get that car from other dealers as well. Dealers often times trade inventory with each other, so you can buy from the dealer that you prefer.”

My first thought and subsequent phone calls to my dealers today was this:

Time to start really working with your sales team and front line to dial in their personal "Why buy from me" message. Not to be too dramatic, but I think the ability to consistently win business is going to be tied to the ability of your team to deliver that first impression compelling USP. I'm excited to see some of my dealers that have been really concentrating on this knock it out of the park... What do you think?

Comment by Paul Schnell on June 27, 2012 at 2:35pm

Great review and analysis of this horizon technology.  I can always trust that you'll be right out front of new issues that are important to digital-forward dealers. 

What Google is or isn't supposed to be is not the issue to me. It's a philosophical discussion. To a company that big, corporate mottos don't mean jack. It's the way Google is using the DMV data to their own profit model, charging us for the pleasure of giving it to them, that sends me spinning. 

What independent or peer oversight will be there to assure that what they're saying is even accurate, much less balanced? Their near-monopoly on the space creates a real dilemma, don't you think? My take is that this will cement those who've been on the fence about whether (or when!) cars will become a commodity.

I sense lawsuits a-plenty over this one. Thanks BP. Great stuff as always.

Comment by Cliff Banks on June 27, 2012 at 2:04pm

Not sure about that proxy system, Brian -- it seems a bit convoluted and requires a lot of explanation to the consumer. Not sure I have that type of attention span as a consumer.

Although, the privacy angle might make sense. Eliminates one more way someone could get ahold of a phone number.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on June 27, 2012 at 2:02pm

I don't know, Philip, good question.  I am most concerned for dealers as, yet again, another player steps in front of them with their own customers and cuts themselves into the dealers' profits.  I hope the value outweighs the cost.  If I were AutoTrader, I would take a lonnnnng look at my intellectual property and see if there is an Apple-Samsung analog for them over Google.

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