Google Think Auto 2023: Recap & Key Takeaways

July 24th 2023 by Holly Hingle

A few members of our team had the privilege of attending the Google Think Auto 2023 event in Chicago this past week. We took full advantage of the opportunity to collaborate with Google’s automotive and product teams and automotive dealers to talk about what’s next for auto. Topics discussed included Vehicle Listing Ads, Performance Max, YouTube, the future of automotive, and of course, automation and machine learning.

Future of Automotive Panel

Our Executive Vice President, Holly Hingle, was one of the three people chosen to speak on the Future of Automotive Panel at this year’s event. Panelists discussed current industry considerations, including the competitive ad space and pricing of EVs. Gone are the days of die-hard brand loyalists; data shows there is a longer audience buying cycle and less loyalty. 48% of people are happy to switch to a better deal, and 1 out of 3 are also spending longer making decisions. Purchasers are also considering more brands than ever before. These create an opportunity for dealers to rethink the current definition of branding as OEM branding, and instead focus on how they can brand themselves and their customer service or other unique selling propositions. The panel was a great collaboration between Google’s auto team, agency executives, and dealership leaders.

Politics and the Car Industry

Another headwind discussed in a later segment was student loan debt being resumed for a large majority of car shoppers, which will cut into their car-purchasing ability. Not-so-fun fact: the average student debt monthly payment is over $300. There is also a looming 2024 election, which will cause major disruption in ad availability in certain markets.

Vehicle Listing Ads and Performance Max Campaigns Become One

As we previously wrote about in our last blog, Vehicle Listing Ads will no longer be part of Smart Shopping campaigns and this will be absorbed into Performance Max campaigns. Although some dealers may be hesitant about this change, we see it as a huge advantage to accelerate the current performance of Performance Max campaigns and show vehicle inventory on even more placements.

Could We Get More Performance Max Reporting Insights Due to This Change?

Our guess is that the available reporting of Performance Max campaigns will be expanded since Google is essentially taking one campaign with very granular reporting (VLAs) and combining it with a campaign that has historically less data insights (PMax). Dealers should be open to this change since it will let them advertise inventory across most Performance Max placements versus just in Google Search.

New Demand Gen Campaigns

Google is always trying to find more ways to generate more mid-funnel demand for dealers, and the newest product offering to meet that challenge is Demand Gen campaigns. Demand Gen campaigns leverage video and display assets to influence purchasers earlier in their buying cycle. The Google team likened Demand Gen campaigns to “Discovery campaigns with Performance Max level efficiencies”.

Demand Gen Campaign Benefits

One of the major benefits of Demand Gen campaigns is a new variation of Lookalike Audiences that will be available for advertisers to leverage. Demand Gen campaigns will allow us to optimize for conversions or Maximize clicks bidding.

The Difference Between Demand Gen and Performance Max Campaigns

While Demand Gen may sound a lot like Performance Max with the mix of video and display options, you should think of Performance Max as the low-funnel advertising solution and Demand Gen as the mid-funnel advertising solution since they go after different segments of users in the purchasing funnel. You can learn more about Demand Gen campaigns on Google’s website.

YouTube is Still a Growth Machine

Although YouTube has been around for a while, there is still rapid growth on the platform, which makes it an ideal solution for car dealerships of all sizes. There is also a seemingly endless amount of options for advertising on YouTube. Our recommendation is to use your business goal to decide which YouTube products is right for you. Common YouTube advertising goals for dealerships include video ad completions, maximum reach, top channel placement, or brand lift.

Current YouTube Stats

  • 47% growth on mobile
  • The average user is spending 79 min a day on YouTube
  • 200M people on YouTube

Why YouTube for Car Dealers?

  1. Unparalleled reach and active audience. There are currently 200M people on YouTube and 6M+ people subscribed to YouTube TV.
  2. Highly engaged audience who are actively looking for things on YouTube. YouTube users display a 47% higher engagement than any other video ad content!
  3. Variety of Ad Formats and a typical 60% higher ROI than traditional TV.
  4. Using all available signals on Google platforms, not just the ones on YouTube.
  5. Impressions are growing faster than they can sell ad slots for.

Automation, Machine Learning, and Smart Bidding

Google is still heavily investing in automation and machine learning. When it comes to Google Advertising products, smart bidding, responsive search ads, and other automation tools encourage advertisers to leverage the best of your brand in the best moment. Engaged shoppers typically use 5+ channels in a two-day period, and users’ searches are getting very specific. Advertisers can overcome these challenges and take advantage of the built-in efficiencies using in platform recommendations and channel expansion to find the right customer when they are most likely to convert. Google is also working on other cool automation tools like Slides visualization assistance, Google Photo Magic Editor, and more.

Google Think Auto 2023 Recap

Click Here Digital is proud to be a Google Premier Partner and one of the agencies chosen to represent automotive thought leadership for the Think Auto 2023 event. Click Here was also one of the first to preview the new Automotive Playbook at the Think Auto 2023. The official Google 2023 Automotive Playbook will be released to dealers later this year.

If you need guidance on Vehicle Listing Ads merging with Performance Max, help navigating the multiple YouTube advertising options, or if you’d like to be a first-mover to try the new Demand Gen campaigns, reach out!

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