<< by on November 18th, 2008
Automotive OEM manufacturers are some of the biggest spenders in Pay Per Click Advertising. All automotive OEMs advertise on their own brand names – even though they already have number one natural results for their brand names. Some marketers are critical of advertising on brand terms that they already rank number one for, but the simple reality is that buying intent and conversions for both paid and natural clicks on these keywords are much higher, than when the natural or paid ads appear alone. It’s not a tactic to get more “traffic” it’s a tactic to get better converting traffic. There are several other reasons to bid on brand keywords, but that’s not what this post is about.
So obviously the number one keyword for driving the largest volume of desirable conversion actions on www.Toyota.com is the keyword “Toyota”. All Automotive OEMs need a balance of brand and non-branded automotive category terms to capture searchers in all parts of the buying cycle. But, the best volume of leads come from branded keywords. Performance on name of the Automotive OEM is the “bell-weather” roughly of how all those branded keywords should be doing. For example, traffic patterns on keywords like”Toyota dealers”, “Toyota cars” and “Toyota trucks” mirror the traffic trends on the word Toyota…
The losses and historic dips in sales this last October are reflected in search traffic on those same Automotive OEM brand names. Google’s Insights for Search tool allows anyone to index a keyword versus an entire category, in this case the entire automotive industry. The graphs tell the story we have seen play out on the news every day, demand for the brand keywords driving the greatest volume of leads for Automotive OEMs have dried up this fall and really bottomed out in October.
Google Adword’s own keyword tool says that the top 5 automotive brands by search volume are Honda, Ford, Toyota, Nissan and BMW. May and June show’s strong search volume for all these keywords, but as gas prices spiked in the summer and the stock market and economy began to falter in the fall, search volume on the top brands actually goes into the negative when indexed against the entire automotive sector, with October appearing to be historically low traffic.
One of the most dramatic freefalls of brand name traffic among the OEMs is Toyota. Which appeared to be riding high in May and plummeted below zero percent when indexed against the Automotive sector.
The trend is also noticeable across the best selling Asian automotive brands:
While the main American automotive brands rates of growth were already hovering around the zero percent level against the automotive sector before the rise of gas prices and credit crisis. With again a major drop in October from what were already comparatively weak search volumes.
So what do the Automotive OEMs have to do to get the search volume back up? Honestly there’s not much that can be done short term. The problems are bigger than a credit crisis; they are more akin to a crisis of confidence. Most consumer’s could easily get credit to purchase a new vehicle, but they are being conservative about making purchases on big ticket items until they perceive that it is safe to do so long term.
GM vehicle brands could really be feeling the pain in reduced traffic, because it appears that GM has all non-branded automotive searches going to GM.com and allowing only branded traffic for Pontiac.com and Buick.com, etc.
Until that consumer confidence returns, OEMs will likely get more aggressive with unbranded automotive category terms to try and make up the difference. These keywords convert at much lower rates and cost much more than brand traffic.