Auto dealers have been quick to jump on advertising opportunities since the first newspaper ad for a car company was published in 1898. Today, your dealership has a wide variety of advertising options, so it can be challenging to build out a digital marketing plan that reliably powers lead generation and improves profit. But although advertising is constantly evolving, it remains extremely valuable because it is:

  • One of the first touchpoints between your dealership and customers
  • The way most consumers find your website
  • The first step into your digital retailing process 

Dealership websites are a vital first step to help shoppers navigate your dealership’s inventory, and they also play a role in convincing them they should buy from you rather than a competitor. While a good website is important for getting more quality leads and turning cars on the lot, dealers must take a more holistic approach for the website to be able to do its job. Maximizing sales opportunities requires a broader digital marketing strategy that actively engages the right shoppers at the right time with the right messaging.


To reach in-market auto shoppers, it’s important to understand what is driving their decisions throughout the shopping journey. Considerations such as fluctuating interest rates, inflation concerns, inventory shortages, and more, affect what grabs a shopper’s attention.  Today’s consumers follow the purchase path in different ways, at different times, and take different steps in a different order. A successful strategy should be firmly centered on meeting consumers where they are in the journey.

There was a time when you could rely on contextual targeting to capture the attention of the right buyer at their most impressionable moment. But now contextual placements have become too broad, generating wasted effort and ad spend through low-value impressions and low engagement.

The most efficient solution is to leverage the intelligence of behavioral data and use audience targeting to serve your message to the shoppers who are most likely to buy.


There are several key reasons that now is the ideal time to work on perfecting your advertising strategy: 

  • Consumers spend more time online.  43% of car shoppers prefer a multichannel experience at the dealership, a mix of steps completed online and offline.1 This presents an opportunity to strategically target shoppers with cars they want to see based on their shopping behaviors. With access to exclusive Cox Automotive data, you can leverage these insights to serve up the exact car consumers are looking for.
  • The cookieless future is here. In 2025, third-party cookies are finally going away.  To effectively market and advertise to car shoppers, it’s now vital to have access to first-party data that allows you to gain insights on your customers.
  • Digital retailing is the path forward. Advertising can feed the funnel into your dealership’s digital retailing process. With 71% of car buyers opting for a blend of online and offline interactions in their future purchasing journey1, leveraging targeted advertising becomes paramount in initiating potential buyers on the path to making a purchase with your dealership.
  • Google Ads buys are now more comprehensive. Google PMax is designed to help advertisers reach customers more effectively and drive better results through automation. These ads allow you to promote your inventory to interested and relevant shoppers online by featuring it in the most desirable real estate on Google’s search results page. 

So, how do you address these factors to build the right advertising program for your dealership? Dealer.com Advertising works with you to deliver data-driven, intelligent advertising so you can own the moments that matter most for your customers.

We can help you create a superior dealership experience with the right data and the right innovations to reach the right consumer with the right message at precisely the right time.

Here’s what that partnership looks like:


An effective advertising strategy requires three things: 

  • The Right Data: In the absence of third-party cookies, you can use our Cox Automotive proprietary data to build audiences based on each buyer’s intent.
  • The Right Technology: Choose the advertising channels that work best and adjust your strategy in real time. Using our proprietary Advertising Management software, you can identify opportunities for growth and optimization to shift with your market and maximize the impact of your advertising spend. 
  • The Right Expertise: Our highly trained advertising architects will help you achieve your advertising goals. The specialists on this team cover every area of marketing strategy, understand how to leverage the largest first-party data source in the automotive industry, and help you get the most value from your advertising spend.

Dealer.com gives you a data-driven partner that delivers real results, powered by exclusive Cox Automotive data.



Advertising works best as the centerpiece of your marketing plan. The right advertising program is key to fueling website reach and closing deals. 

Want to learn more about beefing up your dealership advertising strategy? Book a demo and get started on the path to a more effective program.   


  1. 2023 Car Buyer Journey, Digitization of End-to-End Retail.
  2. Average performance of 391 dealers using paid search and retargeting channels vs. 133 using paid search, display, retargeting, Facebook, and Premium SEO. January – June 2023.