The auto industry has moved with the times in transitioning from paper to digital. Auto dealerships have increased their digital spending from 5% to 26% in the past decade, decreasing the budget for newspaper placements. Auto was also one of the first industries to shift ad dollars to mobile, outpacing Travel and Sports. However, L2’s Digital IQ Index: Auto finds auto brands’ geolocation-based SEM tactics could be more coordinated to make the best use of search terms without giving way to competitors.


In urban areas, brands and dealers controls 100% of ads and paid search results. Brands account for 49% of paid search real estate and auto dealerships control 51%. That changes in less dense areas. Third parties control 12% of paid search ads in suburban areas and 24% of ads in rural settings.


Furthermore, the content of the ads do not expedite from click to purchase. Acura is the only brand that has a zip code field in its paid search ads to locate dealerships. Sixty-six percent of brands engage in SEM across all market types (urban, suburban and rural), and of those just 36% consistently link from their sponsored ad to a dealership location.

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