3 min read

How to Maximize Your Automotive Ad Spend in a Low Inventory Market

man handing credit card to woman


It’s a terrible feeling when you invest your hard-earned money in to advertising your cars, but you don’t end up with the results you’re looking for. The good news is there are a lot of things you can do to eliminate this wasted spend, sell more cars, and receive more inventory in return.


Advertise on the right platforms

Automotive advertising has been around for decades, but the methods dealers use to sell their cars is constantly evolving. For example, a recent study found that 76% of TV viewers do not actually watch TV ads anymore, 39% of them citing the reason being they are usually irrelevant. With television ads being less effective than they used to be, consider targeting your potential customers on their favorite streaming platforms like Amazon Prime and Hulu through OTT video advertisements. These ads are much more targetable, allowing you to reach shoppers who are actually looking for cars that you have available.

Another great ad type to take advantage of is newly introduced Google Vehicle Ads. This inventory-based advertising system allows you to place your live inventory at the top of Google’s search results page. They include detailed information like a photo of the car, year, make, model, mileage, and location. When a shopper clicks on these ads, they are taken directly to the VDP where they can easily buy your car, resulting in a higher conversion rate.

With 68% of buyers stating they’ve bought a car on social media (Crowdtap), social media advertising is also a must. Like Google Vehicle Ads, inventory-based social media ads can be placed on your prospects’ favorite social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and take the potential customer to your VDP. Make sure you are taking advantage of some of these less traditional marketing tactics to sell more of your inventory.


Make your ads accessible

There is no point in spending money on ad views if the people viewing them can’t get a clear picture of what you’re selling and why they should buy it. When designing your advertisements, keep in mind where they are going to be seen and who is going to be seeing them. With so many customers shopping on mobile, make sure you design mobile ads in addition to desktop ones, and test to make sure that your ads are easily visible on a variety of devices.

It's also important to add both narration and closed captions to your video ads when possible. This way, if a viewer is hearing impaired, or even if they simply are watching without the volume up, they’ll still be able to get the message. When using images, add alternative text that describes exactly what the image is depicting, and maintain color contrast in your designs.


Be seen when it matters

A lot of marketing has to do with being in the right place at the right time, and automotive advertising is no different. You want to reach shoppers who are looking for the kind of car that you sell at a time when they are almost ready to buy. This can be done through well targeted, social media ads, OTT video ads, and Google Vehicle Ads. In addition to reaching shoppers with ads on their favorite platforms, it is equally important to be easy to find when they are looking for you. With 75% of users never scrolling past the first search results page, you need to make sure that your dealership is found on that first page. Keep your website up-to-date and optimized for SEO. You can also invest in search engine marketing (SEM) to get your search ads in front of the right people.


Advertise your inventory, not your offers

Due to limited inventory, consumers are willing to go wherever the car they want sits. Capture those low-funnel buyers by advertising the new and preowned inventory you have on your lot right now. While branding and financial offers are great for high-funnel branding and awareness, they will not attract active shoppers. Pair your branding messages with inventory. All the advertising channels mentioned above are inventory-feed compatible, so you can automatically update creative when your inventory changes. This is both cost-efficient and effective. Below is an example of an OTT ad which includes both branding and inventory and is targetable to an active shopper looking for that type of vehicle.


HubSpot Video


If you’re not sure where to start, ZeroSum can help. ZeroSum automatically updates and optimizes your ads to ensure you’re not wasting your money. Join us for a quick demo, and learn how we can help your dealership sell more cars.

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