How Can the U.K. Auto Industry Make the Most of PPC?

Lorna Rose Gill Posted by Lorna Rose Gill

How are auto companies adapting their online PPC campaigns to bid on the keywords they depend on, and how can they improve upon their efforts?

In its analysis of automobile companies with top sales in the PPC realm, Adthena based its research on the simple keywords “used car” and “new car.” As the graph below reveals, (Autotrader) and (Carcraft) dominate their competitors in terms of paid share of voice (SOV).



Between mid-September and mid-October 2014, Autotrader and Carcraft held first and second spots, respectively – apart from one small dip in Carcraft’s ranking – with Autotrader maintaining an average of 60% SOV.

Other companies receiving a share of SOV below 10% – a rather low figure – included Carshop, Nissan, Peugeot, Volkswagen,,, Claybank Motor Co., and

For what it’s worth, the companies’ respective shares of spending almost mirrored their SOVs, demonstrating some very clear parallels in disbursal habits.

The Importance of Repositioning

Car companies can gain better traction in the marketplace by more effectively adapting their PPC ads to their services, which includes distinguishing between pre-purchase and post-purchase terms and understanding the importance of year, make, and model, as well as automotive part types.

Pre-purchase searches such as “2002 Alfa 156 lower control arm” or “2010 BMW 330i” demonstrate an intent to buy, as consumers generally type in these terms when looking for purchasing advice, specifications on cars or parts, or their price and availability.

The specificity of the terms used in this stage, however, generally leads searchers to enthusiast forums, not retailer websites. However, car and auto parts sellers can attract these potential customers to their company websites by targeting these long-tail keywords and designing their websites and landing pages to better suit these highly specific searches.

Don’t Miss Out!

Less specific search terms such as “used car” will still serve ads for websites like Autotrader and Carcraft, even if these two companies overlook crucial long-tail keywords.

However, according to Adthena’s data, top car companies have been missing out on a number of generalised yet lucrative keywords, including “used cars,” “car craft” and “used cars for sale,” which respectively produced 2700, 2000, and 650 potential clicks in the month-long period under consideration alone.

And the auto companies capitalized on precisely zero of them.


AdWords discontinued exact matching at the beginning of September for many advertisers and forced plurals and misspellings to be included in keyword searches, as Search Engine Watch reports. Most companies have not bid on the potentially high-traffic term “used cars.”

This behaviour suggests that some companies that only sell auto parts or new cars previously utilized the term as a negative keyword to exclude all searches for “used cars.”

Consumers conduct post-purchase searches once they have purchased the car and/or parts and seek advice on how to install them.

Users looking for post-purchase support generally use search terms like “install lower control arm 2002 Alfa 156,” or “2010 BMW 330i ECU remapping,” which lead them to those same enthusiast forums or to YouTube videos for visual tutorials. Again, the onus is on the auto companies to reposition their respective PPC strategies to attract some of this traffic.

Key Buzz Terms

Long-tail search terms made up around 70% of all search terms in 2009, according to a study on Moz.

And this figure has climbed drastically over the last five years due to a corresponding increase in natural language search terms and voice searches, providing further evidence that long-tail search queries should comprise a significant aspect of any PPC campaign and only grow in importance as natural language searches increase.

A sophisticated platform like Adthena provides simple comparisons with a competitor’s strategies and performance, enabling you to outsmart and outrank them with ease.

All companies must cater to specific searches by maintaining a well-structured PPC account along with relevant ad copy and landing pages. Adthena promises to help you accomplish this goal.

(Main image credit: Thomas Anderson/Flickr)

About the author

Lorna Rose Gill
Lorna Rose Gill
Lorna is responsible for acquisition marketing at Adthena, communicating their award-winning product and generating demand. She has developed her career in fast-paced, start-up environments, including two tech track 100 companies. She is curious and passionate and likes to find stories in data and technology.