CommentaryApr 24th, 2013

Drink Up! There Is Only A Little Urine in the Wine


If your dealership is using Google Adwords under the assumption that digital advertising can drive qualified traffic to your website, you are partially right. Lurking in your Google Adwords account are advertising campaigns that are just not working. These poor performers are tainting the overall success of your online marketing efforts. In fact, I would even say that some ads are burning your money faster than ticket sales for a Justin Timberlake concert!

The premise behind Adwords is that during the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) when consumers are researching to purchase a car, dealers can advertise using SEM, banner ads and video pre-roll to help drive qualified traffic to their website or increase direct phone calls from mobile users. However, dealers know that over 50 percent of the cars that the sell each month are to consumers who never call or submit a lead in advance.

So, if a majority of sales are not in the dealer’s CRM software prior to the consumer stepping on the lot, how can a dealer know which advertising investments are generating the most sales with a good ROI? Recent research published by Cobalt,, and Dataium give dealers a new strategy to inspect the effectiveness of advertising dollars, regardless of whether a consumer submits a lead.

Dealers using Adwords on an integrated website platform can tie car sales to consumers who make a call or submit a lead, establishing a cost-per-lead and cost-per-sale. However, dealers who measure advertising success by leads alone are missing the bigger picture. Big data research has discovered that measuring Vehicle Detail Page (VDP) views on your website is directly correlated to car sales.

How does this pertain to Adwords? It is actually very simple! When was the last time you inspected your Adwords sales campaigns, excluding service campaigns, to see how well those ads are generating VDP views? The answer for most dealers is: never!

That’s right, Adwords is not naturally setup to see if the clicks generated by SEM, banner ads, or video pre-roll campaigns drive traffic that looks at VIN level inventory. Yet to sell more cars, the research indicates that dealers must get consumers looking at VDP’s! It is time to measure the impact of your Google Adwords campaigns and other referral traffic with a new measuring stick: VDP views.

I love wine and have a passion to visit the great wine making regions of the world. So, imagine visiting a winemaker in France that has a reputation for high-quality wine. On the tour, the winemaker announces that he needs a minute to relieve himself. However, instead of using the bathroom, he urinates in the holding tank of Cabernet. Seeing that I’m shocked, the winemaker comments, “In such a large tank it really doesn’t impact the wine!”

I tell this story to ask you the question, “Would you drink the wine ever again?” The answer is obvious. In the same way, would you continue to leave your Adwords campaigns unchanged, measuring only cost-per-click and lead counts, when you know that this new measurement standard can identify the urine in your own wine (advertising) tank?

It is not acceptable to have 10-30 percent of your digital advertising dollars, which are designed to sell more cars, have sloppy performance in generating VDP views. Our industry has to evolve from lead counts and cost-per-click measurements to include impact on VDP views.

To be fair, this is new research and applying a VDP filter to digital advertising campaigns has just started by savvy vendors. If you take the time to inspect your Adwords campaigns, like in the example below, you will be able to spot poor performing ads.

If you understand the importance of applying this research to your digital advertising campaigns, you should set up Google Analytics to filter traffic based on VDP views. This will allow you to create a spreadsheet (like the one shown with this article) to discuss with your Adwords provider. I recently conducted a webinar entitled “Turning Dealers Into VDP Factories”, to review this research and to show dealers how to set up Google Analytics to inspect VDP views. If you would like a copy of the webinar recording and slide deck, send me an email at [email protected].

Now it’s time to have a glass of wine knowing that your advertising dollars are generating the type of behavior on your website that research tells us will help you sell more cars. When a proper strategy is in place, you should be seeing a steady increase in VDP view on your website over time. That trend, according to this research, will align your marketing efforts to higher car sales.

In the end, don’t we all just want to sell more cars? Cheers!

Brian Pasch is the CEO of PCG Digital Marketing. For more information, please call 732-450-8200 or visit

Authored by

Michael Bowen

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