Google Comparison Ads for Autos launched this week in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I recommendation car dealers learn about it now, before it arrives in your city.

In early 2011 Google had invited dealers in the San Francisco Bay Area to sign-up for the pilot during NADA 2011. Some automotive bloggers wrote about it at the time. They did not attend the meeting nor did they see the presentation. And therefore presumed incorrectly that is was a price comparison product (that would further hurt dealer margins).

This is not a “price shopping” product that those blogs presumed. Dealers need to know that now, before they make the same assumption and ignore the product and miss the boat when it arrives in their PMA. I’m seeing the result of that approach now, as dealers that sat on the sideline these past 18 months are now scrabbling to get into the program. Word is just reaches these reticent dealers that their competitor, who did signup early, is getting (lots of) leads that result in sales (the word is they are quality leads). We’ll know if those claims are true in the coming days.

What is Google Comparison Ads for Autos? It is a “price validation feature” for consumers. Google Comparison Ads for Autos generates leads much like Google Adwords generates clicks. If you are familiar with Adwords, you will have an easier time understanding Google Comparison Ads for Autos, but the bid/lead mechanism is not identical to Adwords, its more complicated. The bottom line for dealers is the lead cost can be zero ($0) in some cercumstances, while other cost (bid) starting at $10.