The likely arrival of Google Vehicle Ads (GVAs) in the UK has the potential to radically change dealer digital strategies, iVendi is predicting.

James Tew, CEO at the connected vehicle retail technology specialist, said that the development could significantly change the online journey taken by car buyers.

“GVAs have been launched in the US and appear to be having quite an effect on customer and dealer behaviour. What they do is very simple – buyers who search for a vehicle in Google are shown a selection of local stock that meets their need.

“To make this possible, dealers simply need to upload their stock list to Google and are charged on a pay-per-click (PPC) rate similar to the kind they currently pay.

“GVAs mean that the online journey becomes more direct and leaner. The customer goes straight from search engine to retailer web site without any intermediary.

“There are several implications to this but perhaps the most significant is that the dealer needs to ensure that the page of their web site on which the customer lands provides them with all the information they need about the vehicle – and crucially a clear route to handle the entire purchasing process in whatever manner they see fit.

“This means a slick online journey covering everything from reservations to finance to part exchange needs to be included but, most importantly of all, that potential buyers can move between digital and showroom channels at will. Our research shows that this is overwhelmingly how most customers want to shop.”

The arrival of GVAs would also provide dealers with better visibility over which of their online ads were working, as well as opening the door to new technology, he said.

“We are launching new iVendi technology soon that will allow dealers to track an entire customer journey – which vehicles they have viewed, when and where. This will dovetail with the higher degree of transparency that GVAs offer, giving retailers a vastly more detailed picture of the effectiveness of their digital ad spend.”

James added that iVendi’s view was that GVAs would have an impact on the well-established intermediary marketplaces that were widely used in the UK but it was difficult to predict the degree of change.

“Online vehicle portals are an important element of the UK motor retail sector and we do not see GVAs displacing them. Rather, they are an alternative route from customer to vehicle that adds something new to the sales options available to retailers.”

He said it appeared inevitable that GVAs would arrive in the UK in the near future.

“To the best of our knowledge, there has been no announcement but the UK is an important market for Google with a highly developed, digitally-aware vehicle retail sector. It seems almost certain that the product will come here.”