How To Increase Used Car Sales Post Lockdown with Auto-Ads™

Generating leads for as little as £13 per enquiry, Auto-Ads™ offers an automated solution to advertising your used cars on Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Bing.

As car dealerships get ready to come out of lockdown on 1 June 2020, with preparations being made within the dealership for social distancing measures, increased sanitization and cleaning of vehicles, and no doubt more of the team coming off furlough, it makes sense for the dealership to also plan their advertising and marketing. When you open your doors on 1 June 2020, you want to be busy serving customers and selling cars, and the way to do this is through advertising, PR, and marketing.

When it comes to generating enquiries for used cars, the go to sites are the online marketplaces like Auto Trader,, CarGurus and more. However, there is another opportunity available to car dealers with Auto-Ads™from Key Principles to look at more channels and to generate enquiries at low cost.

The Auto-Ads™ system enables targeted advertising, based on your used car stock, for search campaigns on Google and Bing, as well as advertising and retargeting on Facebook and Instagram. With automation of your advertising, and adverts produced dynamically based on your car stock, Auto-Ads™ provides an exceptional return on ad spend.

Benefits of Auto-Ads™

  • £13 per enquiry for used cars you have in stock
  • Quality enquiries generated for the cars you actually have in stock
  • Targeting individuals who are proactively searching for the car you have in stock – Auto-Ads™ Search. If someone searches for a “Used Red VW Golf” and you have one in stock, Auto-Ads™ will show your advert.
  • Retargeting visitors to your website by showing the individual the cars they viewed on your website, and reminding them to come back, as well as adverts targeted to in-market audiences promoting your cars as well as increasing brand awareness – Auto-Ads Social
  • Adverts dynamically updated as you update your website – adding new cars and removing those that have been sold from your advertising

The Market for Used Cars

As Google Trends shows searches for ‘buy a used car’ in the last 90 days have been consistent, even during lockdown. Yes, people do search on Google and the other search engines for used cars.

Figure 1 Buy A Used Car Searches

Fig 1: ‘Buy a used car’ searches from Google Trends

In fact, the good news, looking at the data more closely, searches for ‘buy a used car’ in the last 6 weeks (12 April to 21 May 2020) have increased 20% compared to the previous period (1 March to 11 April), and this even includes the most stringent lockdown period.

With Boris Johnson advising in his broadcast on Sunday 10 May 20201 that individuals should avoid public transport, some individuals in the current environment need to buy cars to get to work and want to buy cars ASAP. This, plus the fact that some individuals may have saved during lockdown, suggests that there could be more people looking for a used car than before and with money in their pockets. Pent up demand because of the weeks of lockdown would suggest this too. Of course, this needs to be weighed against the potential worries around the economy post lockdown which may stop some from making bigger purchases, as well as the fact that many will be worse off post lockdown and the fear of redundancy may also curb spending.

Of course, the economy is not something we can control. We can control how often your dealership is in front of the potential customer though, by advertising at the right time and in the right place with Auto-Ads™.

Capturing the Searchers

One thing has not changed since the invention of the search engines back in the 1990s2. If someone is proactively searching on Google, Bing and the other search engines using terms like ‘buy a used car’, ‘buy a ford focus’, ‘buy a Nissan Juke’, etc. they are most definitely in the market for a used car, and your dealership can be at the top of Google just at the right time, after they’ve done most of their research, when they know the car they want and are searching for it. And if you have the car, they are looking for, a Nissan Juke for example, and you are a dealership near their location, we can make sure your advert appears on the search engines.

Auto-Ads™lets you take this a step further as well and create hyper-targeted search ads for the people who really know what they want. For example, if someone searches for a “Used Red Nissan Juke” or a “Used 2012 Nissan Juke” and you have that specification of car in stock, your advert will show.

Of course, the online marketplaces want you to believe people do not search for cars on Google etc., but of course they do. They most likely will check out the options in the marketplaces, but they are unlikely to just do this for such a big purchase.

In fact, as an example, one car dealership Key Principles works in partnership with, had over 5,000 searches for Kia Used Car Models from 1 January 2020 to 23 March 2020. Auto-Ads™ Search enables you to be on Google closer to when an individual is ready to buy helping to keep the cost per enquiry down to around £30 per enquiry.

Noting that at this point the potential customer will have completed research and have decided on the make and model, your advert will appear because you have the car they are interested in buying in stock and you’re close to them. Of course, this means the enquiries from Auto-Ads™ Search are quality enquiries where we effectively match your car or cars to the potential buyer before they even click on your advert. Simple, effective advertising that generates a return on ad spend.

More Insight

Google has completed some research on the five key auto micro-moments3. They are shown in figure 2 below.

Figure 2 The Five Car Buying Micro-Moments

Fig 2 The Five Car Buying Micro-Moments

For car dealers that want to focus on achieving the best return on investment, for those that want to keep more of the profits within the dealership, Key Principles recommends targeting car buyers at the ‘Where should I buy it’ moment. At this point they are ready to buy and if you have the make and model of the car they want in stock, we will make sure your adverts are in front of them.

Not just when they are proactively searching on Google and Bing, as combining Facebook and Instagram at this point will increase the likelihood that they will buy from you. In fact, Search Engine Journal3 reported a 30% improvement in return on ad spend by combining Search (Google and Bing) and Social (Facebook and Instagram).

Using Facebook and Instagram

Combine Auto-Ads™ Search where you are making sure you are present on the search engines with Auto-Ads™ Social provides a potent advertising system. Auto-Ads™ Social retargets individuals that have looked at cars on your website and promotes those cars on Facebook and Instagram to them, encouraging them to return and make an enquiry. This, combined with Facebook and Instagram advertising to in-market audiences as well as look-a-like audiences of your previous buyers, leads to a cost per enquiry as low as £13.

Setting Up Auto-Ads™ Search and Auto-Ads™ Social

When it comes to set up you can leave this to Key Principles all we need is:

  • Access to all relevant accounts; Google, Microsoft Advertising (if you have an account) and Facebook
  • A feed from your website which we can sort with your web developer
  • Comprehensive tracking set up, which we can do, so we can show you clearly the return on your ad spend from our advertising activity.

To get started with Auto-Ads™, call Key Principles today on 0115 880 0211. We are expecting demand for this service to be high, so the sooner we hear from you, the quicker you can be up and running with this new advertising service.

For more information please download the Auto-Ads™ Product Data Sheet here.



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