In the San Francisco Bay area, where I live, Google has quietly launched what is being referred to as Google Cars – a new addition to Google’s comparison ads (those “Sponsored” ads appearing between the PPC ads and organic results).
The Google Cars program is designed just like their previously launched Google Advisor site. Google Cars is a lead generation business, exclusively listing new cars.
To see Google Cars, you’ll need to change your ZIP code to 94301, and do a Google search for "Palo Alto Toyota".
Google shows its Sponsored ad block featuring four different cars, with links to check them out.
When you click on the first listing, the Toyota Camry, you will be taken to a page that lets you filter in all sorts of ways: by make, model, trim, year, engine, transmission, seats, body, exterior and interior colors, and more.
Just as Google has a link to “Why these ads?”, Google has a link to “Why these cars?” where Google notes: "Vehicles from participating dealers are sorted by MSRP and distance. We are compensated by some of these providers."
Clicking on "Google Price Info" will show “regional price paid” data, which is based on data dealers have shared with their local DMV.
You can also click on a "Contact dealer" button, which will take you to a form where you give away your email, name, and are shown a list of participating dealerships within a pre-defined distance from your house. You select which dealerships you would like to contact you and send a message to them. This will send them all your information so that a dealership can contact you.
Alternatively, you have the option of simply seeing a list of dealers to call.
Google hasn’t officially announced Google Cars, so to find out how (or if) it’s working, I reached out to Jared Steika at Piercey Toyota, one of the participating dealerships. Steika referred to the new program as "Google Comparison Ads" a pay-per-lead product where Google is trying to compete with a Cars.com or another similar service.
"Everyone goes through Google at some point, we'll see if they embrace Google as a lead source for car leads,” Steika said. “It's been less than a week since we've been live and we haven't seen many leads come in yet. Too early to tell if it's going to work or not."
Steika and the whole Piercey Toyota team are very hopeful for the product. They didn't know off hand what the price of leads was but they mentioned it was affordable and comparable to other auto lead sources that they use.
What do you think of this? Do you think it's something that will work and Google users around the world will embrace?