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The FTC Won’t Let Me Be

The Federal Trade Commission has announced an investigation into how search engines display paid listings in searches. Your first reaction is probably a sigh, and then to lament the potential government over-regulation of another form of advertising (and one day that very well may happen). However, in this case it’s good for the consumer and good for the advertiser.

What exactly is the FTC concerned about? The top four search results are typically going to be paid ads. Based on the examples below from Google and Bing, you can see a different colored section that is designed to differentiate paid results from organic results. Over time, the distinction of the colored section has faded – literally. Politicians in Washington want to see a big bright marquee that denotes the paid from the organic.

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 3.46.09 PM

Here are three reasons that potential FTC intervention will be good for your dealership:

1)     If someone is buying your dealership name, the user will be less likely to assume Google is showing them an organic result and move down to your listing.

2)     We are seeing a negative trend of idleness and automation when it comes to PPC advertising. It’s a “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality which leads to poor results and a wasted budget. If users can better distinguish ads from organic, the quality will get more action.

3)     That segues nicely to the next point. Perfect Match PPC now becomes the best way to target potential buyers and get them to engage in your site. Again, it requires more work and manual intervention, but means the dealers that are serious about their interactive advertising will be the most successful.

4)     The time, effort and money you have spent optimizing your website are more likely to payoff. Especially if you have been taking the necessary steps to separate yourself from your competition.

John Paul Strong

John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 150 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.

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