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Mastering Vehicle Listing Ads on Google: A Comprehensive Optimization Guide

Mastering Vehicle Listing Ads on Google Blog Cover

Take your Google Vehicle Listing Ads to the Next Level

In today’s competitive digital landscape, leveraging vehicle listing ads on Google is crucial for automotive businesses looking to attract more customers. Since customer intent-driven paid search is an integral part of Tier 3 local auto advertising, Google Vehicle Listings Ads deserve a significant amount of attention. In this comprehensive optimization guide, we will explore effective strategies and best practices to help you maximize the performance of your vehicle listing ads on Google. Whether you’re a dealership, manufacturer, or automotive marketer, this article will provide you with actionable insights to outrank your competition and drive qualified traffic to your listings.

What are Vehicle Listing Ads (Google VLA’s)?

Vehicle listing ads (VLA’s) are a type of online advertising format specifically tailored for automotive businesses. They are typically displayed on search engine result pages (SERPs) and Google Maps, showcasing detailed information about vehicles available for sale or lease. These ads provide an opportunity for dealerships, manufacturers, and other automotive marketers to promote their inventory directly to potential customers. Vehicle listing ads commonly include key details such as make, model, price, location, images, and additional information. By leveraging vehicle listing ads, businesses can increase their visibility, reach a targeted audience, and drive qualified traffic to their vehicle listings, ultimately boosting sales and conversions.

How Google Vehicle Listing Ads Work: 

Vehicle listing ads (VLAs) work by utilizing structured data feeds to display detailed information about vehicles directly in search engine results, and now across other Google properties with Performance Max. Businesses provide a feed that contains relevant data such as make, model, year, price, location, and other specifications for each vehicle in their inventory. This data is then mapped to specific attributes and displayed in a visually appealing and informative format. When users search for relevant terms or browse through Google Maps, the VLAs are triggered, showcasing relevant vehicle listings. Users can click on the ads to access more details, contact the seller, or visit the dealership’s website VDP, facilitating the process of connecting interested buyers with available vehicles.

Setting up Vehicle Listing Ads (VLAs) with Google involves several steps. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to help you get started:

  1. Prepare your inventory data: Collect and organize the necessary information about your vehicles, including make, model, year, price, location, and other relevant details. Ensure that you have this information available in a structured format, such as a spreadsheet.
  2. Create a Google Merchant Center account: Visit Google Merchant Center ( and create an account if you don’t have one already. Provide accurate information about your business and website during the account setup process.
  3. Set up the data feed: In Google Merchant Center, create a new product data feed. Upload your inventory data (collected in step 1) in a supported format, such as CSV or XML. Map the attributes in your data feed to the corresponding fields in Google’s product schema for VLAs.
  4. Verify and claim your website: Verify ownership of your website in Merchant Center using one of the provided verification methods. This step ensures that you have the authority to display ads for the listed vehicles.
  5. Create a VLAs campaign: Access your Google Ads account and create a new campaign. Choose the “Sales” goal type and select “Showcase Shopping” as the campaign subtype.
  6. Configure your campaign settings: Set your budget, targeting preferences (location, language, etc.), and bidding strategy. Ensure that you select the appropriate inventory filter options to display the desired vehicles.
  7. Link your Merchant Center and Google Ads accounts: Connect your Merchant Center account to Google Ads by linking the two accounts. This step allows your VLAs campaign to access the inventory data from your data feed.
  8. Create ad groups and optimize: Within your VLAs campaign, create ad groups based on specific vehicle categories, such as make or model. Write compelling ad copy, set bids, and optimize targeting to reach your desired audience effectively.
  9. Monitor and optimize performance: Regularly monitor the performance of your VLAs campaign. Track key metrics such as impressions, clicks, conversions, and return on ad spend (ROAS). Make adjustments to bidding, ad copy, targeting, and other elements to optimize your campaign’s effectiveness.
  10. Stay compliant and up-to-date: Familiarize yourself with Google’s policies and guidelines for VLAs to ensure compliance. Stay informed about any updates or changes that Google makes to its VLA program to maximize the benefits of this advertising format.

Remember, this is a simplified guide, and the actual setup process may involve more specific configuration options and customization based on your business needs.

A Quick Guide for Optimizing Google Vehicle Listing Ads

Understanding Google’s Vehicle Listing Ads Platform

Conducting Keyword Research for Vehicle Listing Ads

Optimizing Your Vehicle Listing Ad Content

Structuring Your Vehicle Listing Ad Campaigns

Implementing Local SEO for Vehicle Listings

Monitoring and Measuring Performance

Staying Ahead of the Competition

How to Optimize Your Vehicle Listings Ads Campaign on Google

Understanding Google Vehicle Listing Ads Platform:

Understanding Google Vehicle Listing Ads (VLAs) is essential for automotive businesses aiming to leverage this advertising format effectively because it’s not like your standard search campaigns. VLAs are a specialized type of ad that displays detailed information about vehicles directly in search results and now with Performance Max, across other search properties as well. 

These ads provide an opportunity to showcase make, model, year, price, location, and additional specifications to potential buyers, making it easier for them to find and connect with relevant listings. By understanding how VLAs work and their benefits, businesses can optimize their campaigns, increase visibility, target specific audiences, and drive qualified traffic to their vehicle listings, ultimately boosting sales and conversions in the competitive automotive market.

Conducting Keyword Research for Vehicle Listing Ads

One of the main points that Google Vehicle Listing ads campaign strategies still have in common with standard Google search ads campaigns is the need for effective Keyword Research. 

Conducting comprehensive keyword research is crucial when optimizing vehicle listing ads (VLAs). By identifying relevant keywords, businesses can align their ads with the search intent of potential buyers, increasing the likelihood of attracting qualified traffic. When conducting keyword research for VLAs, focus on terms related to make, model, year, features, and location. 

Optimizing Vehicle Listing Ads Content

One stark contrast between VLA’s and standard search ads is where to optimize keyword content. Similar to Google’s shopping ad format, VLA’s are pulled directly from an automotive dealerships website so the content needs to be optimized in either the feed or the landing page. 

Write concise yet descriptive descriptions that can be picked up in the ads. To enhance the visual appeal, use high-quality images that showcase the vehicle. Make sure to NOT include overlays that Google’s system can detect and block. 

Structuring your Vehicle Listing Ad Campaigns: 

Structuring your vehicle listing ad (VLA) campaigns effectively is crucial for optimizing performance and organizing your ads in a logical manner. Start by grouping your ads into ad groups based on relevant categories such as make, model, or vehicle type.

This enables better control over budget allocation, bidding, and ad customization. Set up clear and specific campaign goals for each ad group, whether it’s promoting a particular vehicle type or targeting a specific audience segment. By structuring your VLA campaigns strategically, you can improve targeting, maximize ad relevance, and ultimately drive higher click-through rates and conversions.

For instance, if you’re a Mazda dealership used to moving more Mazda CX-5s than anything else, separating a campaign specific for the Mazda CX-5 allows for you to apportion a larger amount of your budget there. Likewise, new vehicles that aren’t necessarily selling in large quantities yet but have added incentives to help move, can be set into their own campaigns to help push these more rather than getting lost in established vehicle models consuming more of the shared budget. Likewise, separating out campaigns allows for Google to optimize to the campaign targets – some campaigns may focus on a lower-end model, whereas others may focus on a higher-end model. 

The idea of structuring campaigns is to make them look more relevant to

Implementing Local SEO for Vehicle Listing Ads

Implementing local SEO strategies for vehicle listings is essential to increase visibility and attract nearby customers. Start by optimizing your listings with location-specific keywords, ensuring consistency across platforms like Google My Business, online directories, and your website. Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing, providing accurate and detailed information about your dealership or business. Encourage customers to leave reviews and respond to them promptly to build trust and credibility. Utilize location-based targeting options in your advertising campaigns to reach the right audience in your vicinity. By implementing local SEO techniques, you can improve your local search rankings, increase organic visibility, and drive targeted traffic to your vehicle listings from your local community.

While using the Google Vehicle Listing Ads format, an automotive dealership should also look at getting their vehicles organically placed on Vehicle Listings on Google (another separate platform).  

Monitoring and Measuring Performance

Now that GA4 is the standard for Google Analytics reporting, syncing your VLA’s account with Google Analytics 4 makes for a streamlined reporting experience. To start, in your GA4 property, navigate to “Admin” and select “Data Streams.” Create a new data stream specifically for VLAs. Once completed, you’ll link your Merchant Center with GA4. In your Merchant Center account, go to “Settings”, then “Conversion Settings”, enable Auto Tagging, select Add Conversion Source, select Google Analytics and finally select your account number. Link your GA4 property to enable data sharing.

Ensure that you have the appropriate conversions setup in GA4 to be able to effectively track desired outcomes! 

By monitoring VLA performance through GA4, you can gain insights into user behavior, conversion patterns, and the effectiveness of your campaigns. This data allows you to make data-driven decisions, optimize ad content and targeting, and continually improve the performance of your VLAs.

Stay Ahead of the Automotive Competition

Staying ahead of the competition in the realm of vehicle listing ads (VLAs) requires continuous monitoring, analysis, and adapting of strategies. Keep a close eye on your competitors’ VLA campaigns, observe their tactics, messaging, and pricing strategies. Google is not yet reporting Auction Insights on VLA campaigns, so an advertiser needs to pay more manual attention to the competitive landscape. 

Explore peripheral tactics that VLA’s operate alongside such as remarketing to engage with potential customers who have shown interest in your listings. Regularly test and optimize your campaigns, leveraging A/B testing of landing pages and data-driven insights to drive better performance. By staying proactive and adaptive, you can maintain a competitive edge and maximize the success of your VLAs.

Whether you’re ready to get started with Google Vehicle Listing ads or take your VLAs to the next level, the team at Corkboard Concepts is here to help! Either read through our list of search marketing guides or contact one of us today for more information! 


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