Start Your Search Engines! Automotive Advertising is Coming to SERPs

For many years, automotive advertisers have been trying to drive qualified traffic to their website and increase vehicle sales. COVID hit the automotive industry by force, boosting contactless transactions, slowing down new car manufacturing, and changing consumer minds to desire cheaper cars. This has increased the search volume of online car buying, making it more important than ever for advertisers to capitalize on the influx of car buyers looking for their next car through search engines. When Microsoft and Google announced a new way to sell cars, it shook the digital advertising industry. That is why Online Optimism has created this automotive ads guide for you.

What are automotive ads?

Automotive ads are like any other feed-base product ads. They will be showcased on the right rail and mainline of Bing SERPs. Automotive ads are intended to enhance the online car researching experience by presenting pertinent vehicle information to potential buyers farther along on the customer journey. The most essential information, such as make, model, price, and product photo, will be exhibited on the product listing. 

Below is what the user experience looks like for mobile and desktop views of Bing SERPs.

bing serp page
bing automotive serp

Since automotive ads use feeds to display the details of your product, the automotive ad campaigns are triggered by searches, not using keywords, like any shopping campaign! Automotive ads are triggered by vehicle purchase intent and research queries. Then, the offerings from your feed are matched to these queries and are served alongside existing text ads with a separate auction.

How To Begin Creating Automotive Ads:

If advertisers want to begin creating automotive ads, the process is easy. You can sign up for the most recent beta version of Microsoft Advertising’s of Automotive Ads. For users interested in Google, they are still doing closed pilot testing for an auto ads program. 

  1. Sign up for Automotive ads
    1. Here
    2. You’ll have to get approved, and it usually takes a week.
  2. Once approved, you’ll need to add car criteria for creating a business data feed.
    1. Having as many criteria details as possible helps give curious buyers a full understanding of what you have to offer.
  3. Go to ‘tools’ (top right)
  4. Then business data (under setup on the lower part of the drop down menu)
  5. Select dynamic data feeds
  6. Select upload 
  7. Select autos
  8. Select listing inventory
  9. Enter the Name and select the feed file to upload.
    1. See below instructions on how to create a feed file

 Select upload and preview to view your changes, or select upload and apply to create the feed.

Creating A Feed File for Automotive Ads

  1. Use this free template to get started creating a feed file. Note: Columns A-G are mandatory! Required Criteria: 
    1. Vehicle I.D.
    2. Title
    3. Make
    4. Model
    5. Price
    6. Final URL
    7. Image URLs
    • Exterior ColorExtra Criteria
      • Body Style
      • Engine
      • Drivetrain
      • Transmission
      • Fuel Type
      • Interior Color
      • Exterior Color
  2. Longer list of optional attributes here
  3. Then convert it to a tab delimited plain text with extensions: .txt, .zip, .gz, .tar.gz, .tgz

Beta Testing Results

Microsoft beta testing data reports that third party sites and original equipment manufacturers are seeing a 6-15% incremental click lift when running the new automotive ads. Specifically for third party sites, they have experienced a 28-40% drop in cost-per-click. The early results are very promising and we hope that they will continue its effectiveness upon full release. 

Best Practices 

When running automotive ads, you are going to want to be mindful of audience targeting, types of photos you use, and bidding. 

For photos, make sure that:

  • Images match the landing page, listed vehicle, and ad.
  • Do not have watermarks.
  • Prominently display the distinctions between models.
  • Are close up while still showing the whole car.

For targeting, make sure that:

  •  Your location settings target should be set to the proper regions according to the campaign.
  • When first starting out, don’t apply any bid modifiers based on audiences.

For bidding, it is recommended to set the bidding strategy similar to text ad campaigns. 

Moving Forward

Even though COVID vaccines are rolling out, the way that the automotive sales funnel flows will be forever changed. Yes, dealerships are open once again, but consumers have this knowledge about higher quality resources currently available on the internet. Used car sales and search volume will come down from all-time highs, however they will not go back to where they previously were due to covid’s lasting impact. Automotive ads will lower cost-per-clicks, increase click-through-rates for car advertisers, and prove themselves to be a vital tool in a digital marketer’s toolbox.