Prices for Google paid search -- a powerful digital marketing tool for auto dealers -- have moderated in recent months after a big run-up in the previous two years, dealers say.
Part of the reason is that dealerships have become smarter in choosing different, lower-cost key word combinations that drive traffic, and staying away from words and phrases that don't work. Asbury Automotive Inc., the nation's seventh-largest dealership group, has cut Google paid-search costs in recent months by choosing less expensive words and phrases that still attract shoppers, said Ryun Pavlicek, Asbury director of retail strategy.
Paid search works like this: Dealers bid for key ad words. When a shopper chooses those key words in a search, the dealer's ad appears in a shaded box on Google search results. If a shopper clicks on the ad, the dealer pays Google the price of that winning bid.
Asbury, which has 80 dealerships, pays an average of $1.47 nationally whenever a shopper clicks on a Google ad that carries the shopper to an Asbury dealership Web site, Pavlicek says. That's down from $2.47 per click 14 months ago.
Asbury, a relative latecomer to Google advertising, got serious about advertising on Google and other search engines 18 months ago when it hired a third-party vendor, Haystak Digital Marketing, to handle the bulk of that chore, Pavlicek said.
"Our costs have trended down as we've gotten better at" ad words, he said.