Select GM dealers started piloting the technology in February. It has been rolled out more widely over the past few weeks. Vogt said it is too early to determine whether the sites are generating leads -- that is, influencing more customers to ask to be contacted by dealers.
Paul Huber, director of technology at Capitol Chevrolet in Austin, Texas, said the advent of smart Web sites in dealerships is welcome, if overdue.
The sites work by tracking cookies to instantly detect where else a shopper has been online. Cookies are bits of software code that Web sites and online advertising services leave on a user's computer to track a Web browser's digital footprints.
If that shopper conducts a Google search on the Chevrolet Silverado pickup, for example, and then visits the dealer's Web site, the site automatically highlights Silverado photos, incentives and inventory for that shopper.
Cathy Sommerville, general manager of Penske Cadillac-Buick-GMC of South Bay in Torrance, Calif., said there's a small risk that shoppers can be spooked by Web sites that seem to know what they're looking for.
Cobalt, the Web site hosting company for most GM dealers, is the digital marketing unit of ADP Dealer Services.
Dominion Dealer Solutions, another major Web site developer and digital marketing company, is working on technology similar to Cobalt's for introduction in January around the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in New Orleans, said Sean Stansell, Dominion's product manager for Web sites.
Stansell said Dominion is converting its Web site customers today to technology that provides content and a format that is consistent, whether it's accessed on desktop, mobile phone or tablet.
Ted Linhart, dealer principal of Dominion Auto Group in Richmond, Va., says it's high time that automotive retailers started to offer a digital shopping experience that other retail industries have provided for years.
"This is the white chip on the felt-covered table to get in the game," he said.