Anyone using Pay Per Click / Display Ads for Used Cars?

David Zotti

So I know the feelings towards classified vendors like AutoTrader, Cargurus, and Truecar are pretty mixed on here. I'm curious to know if anyone has tried putting the money towards SEM, Pay Per Click, and Social Display ads for used cars as an alternative to classfieds? 

Chris K Leslie

Hey David, I am doing both PPC on used as well as Display ads for used inventory.. 

There isnt a whole bunch that I see through search ads. Display though I run through Criteo and is more retargetting than anything. I see some pretty great traffic coming in from those ads. 

Allyn Hane

I do some Pay Per Click for used at the group level. I have my agency partner Launch Digital Marketing handle it because they have software they built that allows ads to be built dynamically based on the search term. So if I have 4 used Honda Civics onsite and someone searches "used honda civic for sale" the PPC ad generated reads "We have 4 used Honda Civics in Stock Starting at $8,999" (for example) and lands them on a VRP with those 4 vehicles.

There are several auto-specific vendors who can do this targeting but I think LDM is the smartest with it, plus I have direct access/ownership to my Adwords account so no shenanigans like you may have heard from other vendors.

As far as ROI - I don't believe you can have one or the other like many people recommend. I believe that Autotrader serves a purpose as well as my own efforts serve a purpose.

In a nutshell, driving traffic via PPC delivers fewer leads but they close much higher, whereas, AutoTrader delivers a higher amount of leads but they close lower. Both however produce an acceptable ROI when the leads are tracked to sale.


mark rask

i do the same thing that allyn does....they do close better but i just want more

Mike Snellenberger

We ran a lot of search campaigns at the previous used car dealer group I was with.  This would generate the majority of our leads but is time consuming to learn.  It is extremely effective for used car promotion.  We tried other vendors for ads mentioned above and our own campaigns would drive much higher quality leads at a lower cost per conversion.  At one point, our spend per sale was down to $78 per using this strategy.

The retargeting is a big key though.  You will not always convert off the search term but need to stay in front of the customer to work through the funnel to convert to at least a lead.  Display ads and dynamically search ads look good and get impressions but have always converted at a much lower rate than search terms.

Google has also added more text to search terms to increase your chances of a conversion, and believe they will continue to take over the search page with ads.  Our shoppers were using a smart phone nearly 70% of the time to find vehicles.  So, the chance to get shown on phones through SEO or display is greatly reduced vs highly targeted search campaigns.

Using a 3rd party to manage is usually the best way to go due to the excessive time requirements to learn and manage these.  They can burn through $ pretty quickly if not watched closely.  Just be sure to monitor the vendor to show results.


mark rask

We also have started branding our used cars seperately.....we have a different site that we push people to for used cars 

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