Google Zip Targeting Updates – What Dealers Should Know
Google recently announced they’ll be the latest publisher implementing new restrictions on Housing, Employment and Credit targeting in the U.S. and Canada. Starting October 19th, Google will limit the use of personalized ads to target customer segments on their platform, specifically prohibiting “impacted employment, housing, and credit advertisers from targeting or excluding ads based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP Code.” You might remember that Facebook addressed similar ad targeting tactics in 2019.
What exactly does this mean?
This impacts any dealers using zip code targeting to reach shoppers with APR and other credit contingent offers. As an example, your advertising campaign that had a lease offer either in the ad copy or on the landing page can no longer include specific zip codes as one of your targeting variables.
Whether this update has a big or small impact on your advertising depends on a few variables:
- Does your OEM brand assign zip code-based Areas of Responsibility/Primary Marketing Areas?
- Are you running most or all of your advertising in Google?
- How many of your campaigns or landing pages feature credit-related offers?
The more “Yes” answers you have, the greater your potential impact. Don’t panic. Remember that this zip code targeting doesn’t necessarily impact ALL your advertising on Google – only campaigns with credit-related offers. Sincro has already started addressing this update, via our ad technology and our experienced team of digital advertising analysts. So while other dealers are still struggling to figure out a solution, Sincro advertising customers can breathe a sigh of relief as they continue to reach customers effectively while staying in compliance with their OEM brand – all without missing a step.
Switch to Radius
Campaigns in Google that have an offer in them will have to switch from zip targeting to using a radius. In other words, you’ll (virtually) drop a pin on the map and set your targeting area out from that point. Sincro has had this targeting option for years, and we’re already working on updating impacted campaigns for search and display. (Don’t worry, you’re not limited to just one plain, limited circle.) There are also a number of other geographic targeting options still available for credit advertising in Google, such as state, city, DMA/metro, etc.
The Human Element – Just Say NO to Blind Spots
The downside to radius targeting is that by drawing nice little circles on the map, you can end up with “blind spots” in between that aren’t covered by any radius. But there are a lot of ways to reach a car shopper. The key is to not put all your eggs in one basket.
At Sincro, our Digital Advertising Analysts are already talking to our dealers to review their targeting options, adjusting them to fit within the guidelines while maintaining maximum visibility and OEM brand compliance. Depending on the complexity of your ad campaigns, that could mean a lot of creativity and customization. That’s also why having a diversified ad strategy is crucial.
Channel Diversity and Advanced Targeting Tech
Just like a good investment portfolio needs diversity, so does your advertising strategy. A thorough discussion of your goals and challenges will reveal opportunities and help chart a path to success. Sincro has multiple media partners that still allow for zip code targeting. Many dealers often don’t realize the impact of a diverse strategy, like the fact that in some markets, Bing and Yahoo! make up nearly a third of all search traffic. A well-rounded ad strategy can also include premium display channels like KBB or Edmunds, online video, digital TV (OTT) and other tactics.
Plus, with Sincro’s AI optimization technology, your advertising budget automatically adapts on the fly and follows shoppers across channels as they move around online, in real time – without anyone having to lift a finger. Not only does this provide the best opportunity to reach customers during the purchase journey, it also makes each dollar you spend more effective and efficient.
Measure, Monitor and Adjust
No matter what you do, accurate measurement during this time is key. For Sincro advertising customers, our customization with Google Analytics ensures that all of your advertising will be tracked and reported out in a way that gives you a direct comparison to see how you are doing with changes in the marketplace as a result of this Google update. But no matter who your advertising provider is, you should have total transparency to see how changes are working. If you don’t have transparent reporting, you may not be getting the full picture. Ask for it.
Not with Sincro? Ask these questions.
If you are not running advertising with Sincro you should use this as the perfect time to take stock of how diverse your provider’s strategy is. Zip code targeting isn’t totally dead, it’s just different. A strong agency is already running a multi-channel strategy for your dealership, and every agency should be talking about other zip code options with their clients.
Make sure you’re happy with the answers to these key questions:
- What percentage of your budget is in Google search? Is it a disproportionate amount, or is your partner running your ads across multiple channels and media networks?
- In what other digital locations is your agency running your advertising?
- If your current Google advertising includes zip/postal code targeting, how is your partner planning on pivoting that strategy?
- How does your agency plan on addressing blind spots? Are there key areas in your market that might not get covered?
- What other advertising options does your agency offer that allow for zip code targeting?
- How will you measure the before and after to gauge success?
Implementing an advertising strategy in a constantly changing landscape isn’t easy. A strong partner will stay on top this for your dealership and should come to the table having already done some planning. If you’re concerned about how prepared you are for these changes, contact the Sincro team today to learn how we can help.