Google is planning a national roll out of their new car shopping service sometime in early 2014, and dealers are preparing themselves – with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
Automotive News quotes one internet manager for a mid-western dealer lamenting the loss of site traffic for his stores. As much as 66 percent of dealer website traffic comes from Google itself, but that number could plummet once Google Cars is online across America.
On the other hand, dealers such as the Fladeboe Automotive Group, which operates 4 stores in Orange County, are being proactive in approaching Google, even though Google’s auction process for leads will likely be more expensive than other lead generation services. Google’s advantages, such as an immensely strong brand, a simple and easy-to-use shopping tool and the ability to place itself as the first result on any given search page will help ensure a solid footing for the service. And while Google Cars has a similar mission to TrueCar, Google’s enormous resources could prevent it from facing the same kind of meltdown and reinvention that forced TrueCar’s hand in their war against the OEMs.
Ironically, the big losers in any Google Cars victory could likely be automotive journalists themselves. Many “content sites” that make up the bulk of online automotive journalism are simply arms of car sales sites like Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. If revenues fall dramatically, editorial budgets are often the first to go. Google Cars will notably stay out of the content game, since Google’s primary strength is aggregating everyone else’s content. Forget the new car sales race amongst brands – this will be the competition to watch over the next 18 months. Especially if NADA gets involved.