Google's new vehicle ads formatGoogle's new vehicle ads format


Google launches new vehicle ads format as it steps up its rivalry with the likes of Auto Trader

  • New vehicle ads format has been launched in the States at the NADA convention
  • Format likely to be rolled out in other regions later this year
  • Allows dealers to display car adverts directly in people’s searches like shopping tab offers other industries

Time 6:49 am, March 12, 2022

Google has launched a new vehicle ads format that looks set to shake up the way cars are advertised online.

Unveiled at the NADA convention in America on Friday (March 11) the new format will show cars for sale directly in Google search from car dealers.

The new ad format is available in the States now and the search giant says it ‘will be rolled out to more countries soon’.

Car Dealer asked when it would be coming to the UK and was told it will be coming to more regions ‘later this year’.

The format will put Google in direct competition with the likes of Auto Trader, eBay Motors Group and Carwow delivering cars for sale directly into search results.

Lissette Gole, automotive retail head of industry at Google, told Car Dealer: ‘Car buying has undergone a huge shift in recent years. 

‘People no longer spend a whole day going from dealership to dealership. 

‘Now, most car research happens online and even purchases are starting to head in that direction. 

‘There’s more opportunity for dealerships to get online to connect with potential car buyers. Vehicle ads help connect buyers to dealerships, making it easy for people to see at-a-glance information that they need.’ 

A year ago, Car Dealer reported that Google was testing used car adverts. 

Google added ‘local/cars’ and ‘local/dealership’ to its robots.txt files in a move that was quickly deleted, but spotted by bloggers.

Bloggers thought Google would start selling cars directly to consumers. Instead this is more an advertising play that works alongside car dealers.

Online sales

Google says that 16 per cent of new cars were bought online or in an app in 2021 and believes ‘that number will grow’ – three years ago that figure was just one per cent.

In its announcement, the firm said: ‘There’s a significant opportunity available for dealerships to connect with potential car buyers online, and Google is introducing vehicle ads to make it easier for businesses to promote their relevant inventory and reach new audiences.

‘If someone searches for a 2019 SUV, they’ll see several vehicle options they can either purchase nearby or get delivered – along with pictures and inventory information like location, make, model, price and mileage. 

‘Once they select a car, the ad will direct them to the vehicle description page on your website where they can fill out a lead form or get your dealership’s contact information. 

‘You can then select which actions you’d like to measure, like leads and store visits, and assign a value to them.’


The adverts look similar to those found in the Shopping tab of Google search and will help surface cars more directly.

The new ad format takes a feed from car dealers and the search giant then matches shoppers with the most relevant cars.

Google says that advertisers who complemented their search campaigns with vehicle ads saw a 25 per cent increase in conversions during beta testing.

Google says more and more people are turning to the internet to find their next car and some 89 per cent of new car buyers researched their new vehicle online.

American dealer Miran Maric, from Asbury Automotive Group, helped test the new format.

Maric said: ‘The results from the pilot far exceeded our expectations. 

‘With vehicle ads, we can help customers by bringing them right to the car they’re interested in. 

‘This helps us maximise traffic and conversions to vehicle pages and increase efficiency.’

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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