GM Brands Pool PPC Resources for Automotive Segment Keywords

By Tad Miller | Apr 22, 2008
More Articles by Tad


There are many auto brands under the General Motors umbrella: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and even Saab among others. Search for any of those brands and you will find a website for each brand.

But if you search for small cars, mid size sedans or crossover vehicles and click on GM.com’s PPC ad you will get a landing page with all of those brands vehicles represented. You will not find those GM brands competing against GM’s ad on any of those automotive segment terms in PPC advertising.

I think it’s an interesting strategy. But probably not a decision I would have made. It was recently announced that GM was going to be spending more on online advertising than the Gross Domestic Product of half the worlds countries (my exaggeration but it’s in the billions). With this kind of money they should have an unbelievable daily budget and could probably bid to be number one on all these keywords – regardless of return on investment.

I think the smarter strategy, if they are determined to spend that kind of money, would have been to coordinate the bidding between all those brands and dominate most of top ten ad spaces and force out the competition for those keywords.

Another problem is that the “small cars” and “mid size sedan” landing pages have 36 different cars to choose from. I think that is too much choice, and one of my favorite books The Paradox of Choice would agree with me. The page also presents the cheapest and most expensive vehicles front and center on the page which could be an $11,000 Chevy hatchback or a $100,000 Cadillac convertible. The more logical choice would be to sort the results according to sales improve the odds of conversion by putting the best converting vehicles out front instead of giving the extremes.

These kind of keywords typically have low conversion rates, especially in comparison to brand terms. I advertise on these kind of terms every day for a competitor to GM and I know that return on investment on advertising on these kind of terms is low and cost per click to be in top positions is high. It looks like they are bidding very aggressively to be number one on these terms, which is real estate I’m perfectly willing to let them have. I think they are wasting their money.

Some believe that their is a search funnel effect:

“…that suggest that that high-converting branded (alternatively, highly specific term searches) searches are often recently preceded by non-brand searches (alternatively, very broad search terms) from the same user, and so these brand searches (broad) should be considered as incremental.

Our neighbors on the other end of Charlottesville have found this to be overrated idea, and we agree.

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