Generative AI in Search: Unpacking Its Implications for Auto Dealerships

As we continue to witness the impressive pace of technological innovation, one of the most significant advancements is the incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) into search marketing. The rise of Generative AI, specifically, presents a transformative shift for the automotive industry. It’s crucial that auto dealerships understand and adapt to these changes to connect with their customers effectively.

What is Generative AI in Search?

Generative AI in search, as evidenced by tools like Bing’s ChatGPT and Google’s Search Generative Experience (Bard), uses AI technology to revolutionize search engine interactions. This form of AI is positioned to alter the landscape of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), transforming how customers discover, engage, and interact with information.

How Generative AI in Search May Affect Auto Dealerships

An interesting potential outcome of Generative AI implementation in search is that users might spend more time directly on SERPs. They might engage in conversations with AI-driven chats, leading to an extended duration of SERP interaction. As a consequence, traditional website traffic, particularly for top-funnel informational queries, could see a decline.

Opportunities for Higher-Quality Traffic

Opportunities for Auto Dealers in AI Search

This evolution in search behavior can lead to higher-quality traffic for action-based search queries. Users are likely to gather more information and gain deeper insights when conversing directly with AI-driven chatbots or virtual assistants on the SERP. This can facilitate more informed decision-making, advancing users further in their purchase journey without having to navigate multiple websites.

In these early stages, both Bing and Bard’s response to a common locally driven search query like “used cars near me” is to deliver a list of results in a manner not unlike the search results of old. Bing provides a local map to accompany the results, making it similar to a non-AI-driven query. Expect all of this to change as these services evolve.

One thing to bear in mind about these results is they are driven by information from the search engines’ local algorithms. Ultimately your ability to rank locally in Google and Bing will be a key element in your success using an AI-driven search. The AI chat is merely a new layer in between the user and the results. Adapting and learning how to optimize so the AI is more likely to feature your result will be a key element of success for dealerships.

Varying Impact Across Verticals on SERPs

While Generative AI is set to leave its mark across various sectors, it’s crucial to note that its impact will vary based on the industry. Companies providing AI-driven content, like Google and Microsoft, are implementing stringent editorial and regulatory guidelines to ensure trustworthy, authoritative information.

While industries like healthcare, legal services, and financial services may see less impact from Generative AI due to regulatory requirements, the exact impact on the auto dealership industry is yet to be fully understood. In the current state, auto dealerships will still earn clicks from these basic results.

Preparing Auto Dealerships for this Shift

The advent of Generative AI in search undeniably requires adjustments in digital marketing strategies. As tactics and strategies evolve, dealerships need to be open to discovering new ways to connect with their audiences.

In light of these changes, dealerships should be proactive, considering both classic local search strategies and evolving to make their dealership more likely to be one of the suggestions provided by the AI. It’s about recognizing the potential of these changes and capitalizing on the opportunity they present to unlock business growth.

Partner With AI Experts

In the rapidly changing landscape of digital marketing, it’s more important than ever for auto dealerships to stay informed and adapt to shifts like Generative AI in search. Despite the challenges that such changes may present, they also offer novel ways to connect with customers and drive growth.

Rest assured, The Automotive Advertising Agency is ready to guide your dealership through these exciting developments in online search and marketing. To navigate this new era of search marketing, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. The TAAA digital marketing and AI strategy divisions are now supercharged with the recent acquisition of Valid Digital. Together, we’ll ensure your dealership continues to thrive amidst these digital evolutions.

Marco Camacho, Principal, TAAA
About the author

Marco Camacho is the Founder and Principal of The Automotive Advertising Agency, with decades of experience in the automotive advertising industry. With a passion for cars and marketing, Marco has dedicated his career to helping auto dealerships achieve unparalleled success through strategic and innovative advertising campaigns. Leading a talented team of experts across offices in Austin, Los Angeles, and New York, Marco oversees operations and ensures the agency’s continued excellence. Marco’s journey began 35 years ago in car sales at Lone Star Volkswagen in San Antonio, Texas. Excelling in understanding customer needs and providing exceptional service, he expanded his expertise to prestigious brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini. However, driven by ambition and a desire for innovation, Marco transitioned into advertising and media, following in his father’s footsteps as a broadcasting pioneer. Starting as an advertising sales professional at a local radio station, he merged his passion for automobiles with his growing knowledge of marketing and media dynamics.