How to Run a Car Dealership Online Advertising Campaign

August 15, 2016

Team ACV




How to Run a Car Dealership Online Advertising Campaign

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Car dealership online advertising puts your vehicle stock in front of the right customers. Whether you’re advertising on social media, search engines, or websites, you’re putting car information in the palms of consumers’ hands. This way, even as they’re going about their day, your auto dealership’s budget hybrid or used compacts are appearing on their mobile devices.

With the rise of automotive eCommerce, more and more consumers are starting their buying process online. As such, your marketing efforts should go beyond just online reviews, email marketing, and phone calls. Online advertising is a natural way for car dealers to meet their customers where they are. 

If you want to boost car sales, you need to give car shoppers information to make educated decisions. This starts with digital marketing and ends with a strong automotive digital retailing platform.

Let’s walk through the 7 steps your dealership needs to take to run a successful online advertising campaign. 

1. Create Customer Profiles

In the automotive industry, there are two types of potential customers. Indecisive ones that are unsure what they want to buy, and savvy ones that do their research before coming into the dealership. Many case studies show that the majority of car buyers are, in fact, members of this second camp, and that is a good thing. With this in mind, let’s learn how to advertise to them.

Spend time creating new customer profiles for your car buyers and building an online marketing strategy around them. Are you targeting new customers or retargeting existing customers? Who are they? What are their budgets? What do they need in a vehicle? Once you know this, you can customize your ads to their demographics. 

2. Prioritize Vehicles

Once you know who your target audiences are, choose the vehicles that you’d like to sell. Don’t cram your entire stock into a single automotive advertising campaign. Instead, focus on a few vehicles or vehicle types that appeal to your target market. 

Buy auction cars online to help round out your vehicle stock and meet the needs of your new customers. Pick cars that are fully reconditioned and ready to sell in your showroom. This way, your salespeople are ready to show the car the moment that ad goes live. You want to be prepared to give car buyers a test drive and sell them on the car.

3. Choose Channels

Next up are the channels. Where do your target audiences spend their time online? Research the demographics to learn which social media platforms and websites they’re most likely to convert from.

Don’t spread your dealership marketing campaign too thin. Instead, prioritize one to three channels and focus on driving traffic on them. There are a handful of different channels you can advertise on, but here are five that tend to drive the most traffic. 

  • Google Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Instagram Ads
  • Twitter Ads
  • LinkedIn Ads

Once you’ve chosen your channels, set up accounts on them and familiarize yourself with the platforms and pricing. 

4. Budget Campaign

You’ve selected what to advertise, who to advertise to, and where to advertise, now you have to decide how much to spend. 

Digital advertisements are often pay-per-click advertising (PPC). This means that your car dealership pays a small amount for each click. Each channel has different rates and forecasting tools to help you budget out your marketing campaign.

Just how much do dealerships spend on advertising? Car dealerships spent an average of 312 thousand dollars on internet automotive advertising in 2021.1  

Don’t let this number intimidate you. As a used car dealership, your spending should be on the lower side. However, don’t hesitate to budget a substantial amount of money for a campaign to maximize your marketing efforts.

5. Design Ads

Now that you have all the strategic pieces in place, you can start on the creative side of things. Brainstorming creative car dealership advertising ideas is fun. You’ll want to consider the customer profiles, the vehicles, and the channels you’ll be using. These three factors should determine your digital marketing strategy and the direction of your ads. But, beyond that, get creative. 

  • Include high-quality photos that showcase the car’s best attributes.
  • Make the price of the vehicle clear and easy to find. Never use a “call for price” listing.
  • Avoid cheesy, auto-generated, or generalized vehicle descriptions that your website management tool provides. Instead, write compelling captions yourself. Keep them short, punchy, and informative. 
  • Create or optimize customized landing pages to send your customers to when they click on the ads for your dealer‘s website.

6. Run Ads

You’ve done the hardest part of an auto dealer advertising campaign: creating the marketing campaign itself. Now you get to run it. Upload the automotive advertisements to your chosen channels, proofread everything one last time, and hit post.

7. Monitor Performance 

After posting, it’s time to see all your hard work pay off. Many auto dealerships set ads and forget about them. But it’s important to monitor ad performance throughout the entire campaign. 

This tells you what’s working and what’s not so you can pivot and run an even stronger automotive digital marketing campaign next time. What does a successful campaign look like to your dealership? Choose a few KPIs to measure the performance. You can measure conversion rates, brand awareness, click-through rates, leads, vehicle purchases, ad views, and more. 

Ready. Set. Advertise. 

Automotive digital advertising may intimidate your finance department, but we promise you it’s worth it. If you can get your customer excited from the first time they lay eyes on a vehicle, they’re more likely to buy that vehicle from you. This demonstrates the value of advertising – and drives revenue to your dealership. 

ACV Auctions has the vehicles to rev up your next advertising campaign. Start by finding great inventory by registering below. 


Statista. “U.S. car dealers' average advertising spending in 2021, by medium” Retrieved June 2022 from