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The Good and Bad of Direct-to-VDP Advertising

direct to vdp automotive marketing

What do you think about delivering car inventory ads that lead directly to that car’s vehicle detail page (VDP)?

They sound like the holy grail of automotive advertising! But are direct-to-VDP ads really all they’re cracked up to be?

Direct-to-VDP advertising is not a new concept, but it has been rising in the past year thanks to more automated methods of updating and optimizing the ads.

At 9 Clouds, we use some forms of direct-to-VDP ads, specifically on Facebook. But direct-to-VDP ads are not the right fit for all dealerships, all inventory, or all advertising platforms.

There are both negative and positive elements to consider when choosing to run direct-to-VDP ads for your dealership. Let’s start with the good.

The Good

If used correctly, direct-to-VDP ads target a specific, narrow audience that is actually ready to view a VDP.

Not all vehicle shoppers are far enough down the automotive sales funnel to be looking at VDPs. Some shoppers are still more interested in model overview pages and just want to browse through the search results page.

Direct-to-VDP ads are a great way to target the shoppers who have decided what type of vehicle they want and are ready to buy. Targeting such a narrow audience leads to lower cost per click, so the cost for running these direct-to-VDP ads should be relatively small compared to ads that cast a wider, less targeted net.

The Bad

Now for the bad news. If the audience targeting is not accurate, direct-to-VDP ads lead to poor website visitors.

It’s not only about the clicks. It’s about the website session duration, bounce rate, and average pages per session. Ideally, the ad click would lead to someone just picking up the phone and calling for that specific vehicle, but that is rarely the case.

Along with generating poor traffic, direct-to-VDP ads often lead to some of the most distracting pages on dealership websites. In many cases, VDPs are an absolute tragedy. They are cluttered with a dozen different buttons and lousy stock photos. Is that really how you want to make a first impression?

Model overview pages and even search results pages could both be better options than leading straight to a VDP. 

The Verdict

So, should your dealership use direct-to-VDP advertising?

Yes — if you have the budget to include this strategy into your existing advertising. Direct-to-VDP ads should be a supplement, not a replacement.

Also, if you have the ability to narrowly target the right audience for VDP marketing, you should definitely use this method. We have had the best experience with direct-to-VDP ad providers like Speed Shift Media

That said, direct-to-VDP advertising is not a good idea for dealerships with smaller budgets or dealerships focused on more top-level marketing, like brand awareness and events. It can also be difficult for small dealerships to justify this strategy, since the targeted audience size could be too small to make setting up and maintaining the ads worth the effort.

Regardless, even if you know your dealership is a good fit for direct-to-VDP ads, they should not be the sole form of advertising for your inventory. While they might seem like the holy grail, they are not effective for all dealerships.

To learn more about our automotive advertising best practices, visit our digital advertising page specifically for auto dealers.


Banner image: The Atlantic