National Used Vehicle Paid Search Results Don’t Match Consumer Searches

October 6, 2009 (Burlington, VT) –, the global leader of online marketing solutions for the automotive industry, today announced the results of the Sorgenfrei, LLC, comprehensive study, “Optimizing Paid Search-Used Vehicle Market in the U.S.” The findings suggest that while some companies may be adept at providing a high quantity of ads, most have much room for improvement in terms of the quality of ads. The national study examined ads that displayed in search results for the top 10 used vehicles in 10 major markets to determine the leaders in effective paid search, in terms of both quantity and quality of results produced. The results included a total of 87 companies that produced 992 ads with varying degrees of relationship to the searches. The research was commissioned by

A recent Netpop Global Automotive Study found that the majority of online vehicle searches are for used cars. Data also suggest that over 90% of consumers view paid search results. Therefore, properly executed paid search advertising can be an extremely effective method to reach these shoppers and provide more used vehicle sales opportunities. However, the recent Sorgenfrei study found that the majority of paid search results do not match consumer searches.

The study measured quantity by the sheer number of ads that appeared in paid search results. Quality was measured by paid search results that included “deep links.” For example, if a consumer used the search term “2007 Dodge Ram Cleveland,” a deep link would land the shopper directly on a page with information about that exact available inventory in Cleveland. Deep links are important because they offer a more efficient shopping experience, minimizing the amount of time and clicks it takes for consumers to find exactly what they are looking for.

If a consumer saw an ad for a sporting good item on sale and then upon arriving at the store had to hunt around to find it, it would not be as effective or as efficient as if they were able to walk into the store and find the sale item immediately. This inefficiency was found to be the case with paid search for used cars. While there is a high adoption rate of paid search by the automotive industry, 87% of the study’s 992 ads displayed did not produce the results the user sought, with only 13% deep-linked directly to the search items entered. This would seem to indicate that companies building the websites and the people responsible for SEM and paid placement are not working together efficiently.

Peter Sorgenfrei, founder of Sorgenfrei, LLC, commented, “Clearly some companies are doing a better job at paid search than others. Overall, however, the study indicates that the industry could do a much better job of matching paid search ads and deep links with the search terms that consumers use. When a shopper searches for a specific make and model, linking them to a generic home page and making them spend more time looking for the vehicle wastes consumers’ time and advertisers’ money.”

In terms of the quantity of the 992 ads that resulted, OEMs were responsible for 15% of the total. Rounding out the top five for quantity were with 11%, The Cobalt Group with 9%, CarMax 6% and AutoTrader 5% of the total. The OEMs that led in quantity of ads that appeared in search results were as follows: Toyota with 27% of total ads, Ford with 26%, Chrysler 16%, Honda 15% and GM 9%. Further, Toyota, Honda and Ford were the only OEMs that included any deep links in the paid search results, in all cases linked directly to Certified Pre Owned vehicles. For deep-linked quality ads, produced the highest volume with 38% of the total results. OEMs and eBizAutos followed with 22% and 8% of quality results respectively.

“The study results underscore the need for a unified operating system for website SEO and paid search, coordinated at all automotive retail tiers, with all agencies involved,” commented Dean Evans, CMO. “Although it wasn’t available in the past, the technology now exists for a fully-integrated platform to efficiently coordinate online search results and deliver the content automotive consumers seek. Innumerable millions of dollars are currently being spent to deliver paid search content that is at best peripherally related to shoppers’ online searches. This huge inefficiency wastes both marketing dollars and sales opportunities. ”

About Sorgenfrei (

Sorgenfrei, LLC is a consulting, competitive intelligence, and market research firm based in New York. The firm’s principals come from the automotive, financial services and consumer goods industries with experience in corporate strategy, marketing, market research, finance, and investment banking. Our focus on client responsiveness and precise data analysis has helped us generate a client list consisting of some of the world’s most influential companies, such as Toyota, Mazda, Sony and American Express.