Show the car – that’s the one rule of every car ad that you’ve ever seen on TV or in print. Whether that ad is from the giant OEM, the franchise dealership, or the independent shop down the street, none of your customers are ever going to buy their next car sight-unseen. While the cardinal rule of showing off the cars on your lot dominates nearly all automotive ads – it’s been largely lost on search ads. No matter your PPC budget, 300 characters of text can’t replace the appeal of a hot car on your lot.
Today, Microsoft announced plans to address that challenge and introduced an open beta for Automotive Ads on right on the Bing SERP!
What are Automotive Ads?
Automotive Ads allow dealerships, marketplaces, and OEMs alike to showcase their inventory of new and used cars directly on the Bing SERP. Every listing includes the make, model, price, and image of the car. Automotive Ads can be created from an inventory feed and can be customized to provide even more information beyond that basic information including the car’s model year, condition, location, fuel efficiency, mileage, location, or highlight sales or financing offers.
Best of all – Automotive Ads can show alongside your Paid Search text ads and organic listings. An advertiser looking to capture more traffic in competitive markets can use Automotive Ads to buy even more space on the crowded SERP, without worrying about competing against their other paid or organic search efforts.
Today, Automotive Ads can appear for related automotive searches in the right handrail of the desktop SERP and above the organic results for desktop image searches. Microsoft plans to expand these ads to mobile searches in the near future as well!
Like all PPC ads, you’ll only be charged when someone clicks on your ads and arrives at your Vehicle Details Page. Advertisers can control where and when these ads show, as well as their CPC bids and daily budgets.
Why should I advertise on Bing?
You’re probably thinking, “Who uses Bing, anyway?” Well, you might be surprised.
Even if Google is the search engine of choice for most – Microsoft has found clever ways to integrate their Bing search engine into our daily lives. In fact, nearly half of the US uses both Google and Bing – oftentimes without realizing it. The Microsoft Advertising network reaches us when we:
- Run a search in the search bar on a Windows device (In 2020, over 1 billion devices were running Windows 10)
- Run a search from Internet Explorer or Edge’s default search engine.
- Ran a search within Outlook, Word, Excel, Teams, or Skype.
- Ran a search on any Xbox.
- Asked Alexa or Cortana to run a search for you (Even outside of their flagship smart home products, these voice searches are everywhere – including most Windows 10 laptops, Surface Headphones, and even the Facebook Portal devices!)
- Run a search on Yahoo, AOL, DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, or nearly any other non-Google search engine! (All of these searches engines partner with Microsoft Advertising to provide ads. Effectively, if it’s not Google.com, it’s likely a Microsoft Advertising partner engine.)
With all of that reach, ComScore Microsoft Advertising reaches roughly 126 million users in the United States every month – representing 36% of the US desktop search market. In Automotive, that share is even higher – representing nearly 40% of all desktop PPC clicks.
Best of all – Microsoft Advertising has less competition than Google Ads. As a result, you can expect your CPCs to be about 33% less than what you’d typically spend on Google PPC ads.
How do I get started with Automotive Ads?
Today, interested dealerships will need to apply for the open Automotive Ads beta here. Currently, Automotive Ads are only available in the US and UK. It may take about a week before you can create Automotive Ads.
In the meantime, the key to your Automotive Ads success lies in your inventory feed. Automotive Ads are dynamically assembled from data within your feed and your Automotive Ad campaign has no keywords to target your ads. All the data that Bing uses to target and create your Automotive Ads lives within your inventory feeds, so be sure to optimize those for the searches you hope to show for most!
Creating as Automotive Ads inventory feed
An inventory feed is effectively an organized spreadsheet that included organized details about the cars on your lot. Most automotive website providers can easily provide you with this or sync to your inventory systems.
A sample Automotive Ads feed – image courtesy of SearchEngineJournal.
The more information you include in your inventory feed – the better. In the very least, your feed must include each car’s:
- Title (This will appear as the ad’s clickable title)
- Image URL (This will appear as the ad’s featured image)
- Final URL (Use your VDP)
- Vehicle ID (which must be unique to that listing – can be any sequence of letters and digits)
Additionally – it would be wise to include additional attributes for your cars such as their color, body style, trim, year, condition, etc. Although optional, including the attributes “City”, “State” and “Country” are particularly important for dealers to that they can ensure their ads show up in those local searches and highlight their local availability. For instance, a search for “Ford F-150 Worcester” highlights this car on a local lot.
Formatting and details for each attribute in an Automotive Ad feed can be found here.
How do Automotive Ads perform?
In early beta tests, Microsoft saw Automotive Ads as a strong addition to your current PPC ads. On average, advertisers saw:
- 6- 15% increase in total clicks
- 3 – 8 % increase in conversions
- 7 – 16% lower CPC than their corresponding non-brand text ads.
At launch, Microsoft is suggesting that dealerships plan to spend between $50 and $500 a day on automotive ads to get the most out of their new campaigns. From there, advertisers can easily refine and optimize their campaigns toward their marketing goals.
Automotive Ads are an interesting new opportunity for dealerships looking to get more traffic and conversions from the PPC ads. With more digital competition than ever, the opportunity to be among the first to try these new ads could be a game changer in most competitive markets!