How Car Dealerships Can Utilize Google Vehicle Ads

November 9, 2023

Team ACV




How Car Dealerships Can Utilize Google Vehicle Ads

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A car dealer looks at his website traffic in Google Analytics

For most car dealers, boosting sales is a top-of-mind concern. Thankfully, there are tech tools right at your fingertips that can help you access potential buyers. But in order to leverage the potential benefits of reaching customers online, you will need to employ the right strategies across channels. Social media engagement and a well-maintained website are both important, and it’s essential to incorporate paid advertising through Google Ads and Google Vehicle Listing Ads (VLAs). In this article, we will dive into everything you need to know about Google Ads for car dealerships so you can understand how to boost sales, get started, and employ best practices. 

What Are Google Vehicle Listing Ads? 

Google Vehicle Listing Ads is a tool Google released that allows dealerships to advertise items from their inventory within a user’s search results. Paying for this ad space means that when a potential customer searches for a car make or model, your dealership’s vehicle will appear in a top-of-page carousel of possible products for them to buy. These ads permit dealership owners to display many cars within a single ad, allowing customers to see a range of options and increasing the likelihood of a sale. Plus, the ad format drives traffic to your website and helps build warm leads.1

How Do Google Vehicle Listing Ads Work? 

Using Google Ads allows your business to engage the customer during the research phase of their car buying process—a stage known to be extensive among vehicle shoppers of all types, especially the younger generation. According to a Google study of dealerships using VLAs, conversions increased by 25%, and the ads generated an ROI of 15%.2

How Google Vehicle Ads Can Help Your Business

Even if you’re using other channels—like social media, email, and website content—to reach customers, dedicated Google Ads and VLAs are worth the investment. Here’s how your dealership can benefit:

  • Reach audiences looking for exactly what you have: People will find your inventory even if they haven’t heard of your dealership company.  
  • Establish brand recognition: The more people see your name show up in their search results, the faster you will be a go-to among untapped customers. 
  • Target specific search terms: You can specify exactly who you are targeting with Google so that your ad reaches people who are looking for exactly what you sell.

Boosting sales is all about finding the right customer at the right place and time. Google VLAs can help you do just that. You can ensure your specific vehicle listings show up for the right customer, increasing the odds of providing an exact match for what they are looking for and leading to a sale. Since these ads can be location-specific, you can also be sure to find customers who are nearby and may come to your dealership in person to try the vehicle. 

How to Start Creating Google Vehicle Ads

To make ads, you’ll need a Google Merchant Center, Google Ads, and  Google Business profile for your business. You will then be able to fill out the form to start uploading your inventory so  it can pull from accurate data and reflect your vehicles in the search results.3  

Once you are actually putting the ads together, keep the following tips in mind: 

  • Choose optimal keywords: Part of the trick to finding the right customers is leveraging the right keywords in your ad copy. You will need to conduct keyword research and pick both general and specific terms that target the vehicles, your location, and other terms potential customers may search. 
  • Use A/B testing for your copy: It will take trying various ads to know what works, so use A/B testing to publish different versions and determine which options seem to resonate.4
  • Track sales and conversions: Google tracks your ad performance and it’s important to stay on top of these data points so that you can gain insights into what is working and what isn’t. This will allow you to put your budget toward the most effective strategy.5

Rules and Best Practices for Google Vehicle Listing Ads

The guidelines are always evolving, but as of the present, vehicle ads are only allowed for non-commercial vehicles and can only be listed by dealerships and retail stores (not private individuals or brokers). This means that. as a dealer, you truly have a chance to stand out above the competition. 

When putting together your ad, avoid these common pitfalls to prevent your ad image from being taken down: 

  • Do not use watermarks on the image.
  • Do not add banners or logos to the image.
  • You cannot use placeholder pictures; it must be the actual vehicle.
  • The entire vehicle must be visible.

Finally, these items won’t get your ad banned, but they could hinder the performance: 

  • Branding or logos in the background behind the vehicle.
  • Edits or manipulations to the license plate.
  • Disruptive and busy backgrounds.
  • Setting the main image as the back of the car. 

When uploading the images, you will be able to include a maximum file size of 16 MB, and use an image of 800 x 600 pixels, in the GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, or TIFF format. Aim for a 4:3 aspect ratio for optimal performance.2

Successful Google Vehicle Ads Start With Great Inventory

Before you can use Google Ads, you need to have a solid inventory. Work with us at ACV Auctions to build your lot of vehicles. Using our reliable auctioning portal and detailed inspection reports, you can set your business up for success. Register today to become a member!


  1. Caner, M. (2023). “Why Use Google’s Vehicle Listing Ads.” PCG Digital. Retrieved November 6, 2023. 
  2. Plieschnig, L.A. (2023). “Google Vehicle Ads: A Complete Guide for Car Dealerships.” CarCutter. Retrieved November 6, 2023. 
  3. Irvine, M. 2023. 5 Tips to Use Google Vehicle Ads to Jumpstart Your Dealership’s Growth/ WordStream. Retrieved November 6, 2023. 
  4. Oranim, R. (2022). “Google Ads for Car Dealerships.” Retrieved November 6, 2023. 
  5. Feedonomics. (2022). “Supercharge your Automotive Marketing with Google’s Vehicle Ads.” Feedonomics. Retrieved November 6, 2023.