Google Ads versus Facebook Ads for Auto Dealerships

When online advertising started, Google ads were all anyone talked about. You could get your business listed on the top of the Google search page and it generated a lot of auto sales.

Then the price started to go up and the return started to go down. Why? Everyone else discovered that Google ads were a great way to find new customers who were looking to buy a car. Suddenly, every dealership in the area was competing for the same clicks. It doesn’t help that the manufacturers were also dumping millions into any auto-related search.

So the price skyrocketed and the ROI dropped, fast. 

Here’s part of the reason: “The top two sites for online car buying were third-party sites (78 percent) and dealer’s pages (53 percent). (Source)”  – from

The reality is that nearly 80% of auto sales coming from searches are going to third-party sites. That’s an article for another day, but you will want to make sure your inventory is in there. Then 53% are going straight to a dealer’s website.

To make matters worse, according to PCG, 80% of Google Ads response that put up an auto dealers ads are searches for that dealership name. This means that you’re paying Google to do what they do for free – act as the phonebook for the 21st century. 

What makes Facebook different?

Facebook ads are different because people use Facebook differently.

Everyone goes to Google just to search for that one item and then they leave. People go on Facebook to surf and read and watch videos.

Average time spent per Facebook visit is 20 minutes. (Source: Infodocket) 

50% of 18-24 year-olds go on Facebook when they wake up. (Source: The Social Skinny)

The average person spends 35 minutes a day on Facebook, second only to television. (Source: Sproutsocial)

This means that everyone is on Facebook, they’re on it multiple times per day, and they’re there for over half an hour a day. 

Proactive vs Reactive

Google ads are reactive. The customer has to search for a specific phrase to get the search responses and that’s when the ad will show up. In other words, someone has to do and think something specific first. 

With Facebook ads, it’s a proactive process. The ads are placed in front of people who are your audience – age, income, location, etc. They don’t have to search for cars to get cars in their Facebook feed. 

Imagine that you’re able to place a TV ad in front of a thousand people, in our area, every single day for just a few dollars. That’s what Facebook delivers. 

What about posting to Facebook?

Doing Facebook posts is a great idea, but there is a lot going on there. It’s really easy to simply be ignored. 

Every 60 seconds on Facebook: 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded. (Source: The Social Skinny)

That means that your competing with over one million new pieces of information on Facebook, every second.

You should definitely maintain a Facebook page and post regular updates so that people have something to look at when they look you up, but… don’t think that that’s going to drive a lot of sales your way. 

Ads, on the other hand, are strategically on the page, usually as the second or third thing on the page. In order to get to the rest of their feed, users have to scroll past your ad. That’s an impression. 

According to a report from Microsoft, it takes a minimum of 13 impressions to make a sale. That’s what each of your Facebook ads is doing. No one is realistically going to search the same thing 13 times on Google and certainly not in a few days.

How to make the switch?

The power of Facebook (and Google) is the ability to focus your ads to a specific group in a specific location at a specific time, etc. This requires experience and learning. 

While it might seem like something you can do all by yourself, you can get help from professionals who can help you build an ad campaign that will help your ads get in front of the right people at the right time.

Using Facebook for your dealership will probably give you a much higher ROI than advertising on Google. It’s just a different way of marketing.

No leads were lost. reduced overhead.
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