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SEM to Dealer VDP Pages Is Like Throwing Money Out of The Window

By Dave Page on Feb 28, 2013

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) has really taken off  in the auto industry the past few years. With all the changes happening in Google from Pandas to Penguins and Google Place Pages to Google Local, dealers have now been pushed against the wall to get traffic to their website the old fashion way, PAY FOR IT.

This brings me to a major problem happening in the industry today. Car dealers are not aware of  MOBILE SEM to the VDP (Vehicle Details Pages) of their website.  Car dealers must realize that 30% to 35% of all traffic comes to their website from a mobile device. What car dealers do not know today is how much of their SEM budget is being spent on mobile marketing.

Our industry has been educated/or persuaded by industry experts such as Dale Pollak ( Founder of V-Auto) to measure the amount of VDP views per month to determine success. This type of thinking has paved the way for Vehicle Details Page Search Engine Marketing. A very successful company by the name of HAYSTACK has revolutionized this concept for auto dealers that want to get more aggressive online and advertise inventory specific vehicles on Google, Bing & Yahoo. That being said, what is being overlooked here is the “mobile spend” portion of this strategy and whether car dealer website vehicle detail pages are mobile compatible and ready to take on this strategy.

We tested this strategy on a car dealer using this type of  strategy below, and as you can see the results were not good!

Lets put this problem on display:

Customer goes onto Google to search for a 2012 Kia Sorento on a mobile device

After Clicking on, you will notice the customer is sent to a NON-COMPATIBLE MOBILE WEBSITE

As you can see from the screenshot above, the image to the right prominently displays a website that is not optimized for this type of SEM, so basically this car dealer is throwing money out of the window!

A mobile optimized website should look like the picture below when looking for a Kia Sorrento.

This is what a mobile optimized website should look like when an ad is clicked from a mobile device. – Platform by Dealer e Process

Here’s The Tip:  If you want to test your website to determine whether or not your VDP pages are mobile compatible, all you need to do is copy the URL to one of your VDP pages, place it in the subject line of an email, send it to yourself as an email, and try to open that URL from your mobile device and you will have your answer!


Hey Dave,
How do you have dealers address Google's change to "Enhanced" where you can't split Mobile and desktop search ads? ... Most "dealer websites" can't convert their landing pages to mobile landing pages... This is another problem that is lurking around the corner.
Dave Ortiz
Rogers Auto Group

Feb 28, 2013

Dave, great article and very valid point. A 2013 problem, with a 2008 solution. As mobile traffic eventually eclipses desktop traffic, dealers need a better strategy.

Feb 28, 2013

Excellent concept, Dave. I'm going to wait for more replies from the community before voicing my opinion but I'll be watching this thread VERY closely.

Feb 28, 2013

I would respectfully disagree with this. If a dealerships website is built on a Responsive Platform, the VDP will dynamically adjust to the mobile device the customer is using. The URL for Mobile is the same for Desktop. According to Google, this is their preferred method for creating mobile websites. Having an or is Google's 3rd choice. You can read it directly from Google:

Not only a better customer experience, but also helps with Organic Search as you're sending all your traffic to one URL.

Feb 28, 2013

Dave - solid example of a face palm moment for dealers and the marketers providing these type of solutions.

Old School Strategy: SEM campaigns pointed to the dealership home page.
New School Strategy: SEM campaigns point to effective mobile VDP pages.

Great tip provided by Dave - follow it!

Feb 28, 2013

Doesn't responsive sites solve this?

Feb 28, 2013

Jeffrey - it should. But how many dealers even have a mobile compliant site - much less a responsive solution.

Another key element is simply grasping the concept of how much mobile activity a dealership's site is receiving - many dealers are not even aware of this shift in behavior and how to respond to it.

(There are other issues to be considered with regards to how well your responsive solution plays with the search engines)

Feb 28, 2013

Responsive platforms absolutely will handle this problem, although you might be quite surprised to learn what vendors (large ones) do not have this figured out yet! Not only do some of these vendors not have it figured out, some of them dont even own their own mobile technology which makes it even worse.
In addition to inventory, think of all the custom pages dealers create for the desk top version of a website, and how many of them dont appear on a mobile device.

Feb 28, 2013

Eric - The bigger issue is segregating mobile ads from Desktop although now Desktop and tablet are soon to be 1 target on Google Search, Search Partners & GDN. VDP on tablet will soon reflect the desktop version NOT a mobile site. We've seen that Tablet usage for searching inventory is substantially higher then that of smartphones. Paid search text ads for VDP is in itself questionable when leveraging re-targeting with dynamic pixels and a DSP has a much higher CTR and lower CPA. Making dynamic pixel re-targeting substantially more effective versus running VIN specific ads on the Search Network. Running Search based text ads makes sense if you have dynamic pages generated reflecting a multitude of similar models, that way the CPC is inexpensive and the ad continually runs while providing a fair amount of "granularity" to the consumer. For Example: A VW Dealer running a text based used Jetta Ad continually with text in the ad stating "From $9,995 A month" or "a payment" running to a Used Jetta inventory page that would be continually fueled by new Jetta inventory. Bread and butter cars, not one off's. One offs are better served being advertised on 3rd party sites as they are served up in the same fashion; in a vertical of similar cars.

Feb 28, 2013

David Ortiz,
If your website platform is "truly mobile adaptive" every single page of your website "including the custom pages you built" should be available in the mobile format. If you would like to test what it is I am talking about, do this - while sitting in front of your desk top go out to:

While your on this website (in the bottom left of the toolbar, you will see a red QR Code scanner button, go to ANY page on this website, click on the QR code scanner and scan a page, and you will see this exact page in its mobile format.

This works for custom pages, inventory, VDP pages etc.

Feb 28, 2013

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