HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing A new spam technique is making the rounds in the online automotive search marketing business.  A little research found that this is already being reported in other industries, for instance Google Maps Spam in online tickets.

This new spam technique is explicit in the Google Maps Terms of Service (3) Appropriate Conduct; (g) impersonate another person or entity.  This kind of spam is bad for everyone, but extraordinarily bad for dealers.  (its not bad for Dealix. With 25% of leads originating on Google Maps, they are likely pulling in some real lead volume with this trick.  Dealerconexxion is Dealix)

Alex at Dealerrefresh wrote about a similar situation in his article”Is Edmunds Stealing from You“.  Like Alex calling out Edmunds for unethical marketing practices, I hope this article will caused Dealix to cease this practice before it causes too many new ISMs to dive in and cause this fire to spread out of control.  Where will this end if all dealers are compelled to grab their online leads by employing this Impersonation-Spam technique?  The proliferation could be very destructive.  Imagine a ghost car dealership of every make at the center of every zip code.

Like children learning bad habits from the parents, I have also begun to see some dealers engage in similar behavior by creating what I will call “ghost stores” in proximity to other nearby dealers, such as this:

That’s what I mean by wildfire!  I don’t begrudge my competition for working hard to take as many leads off the table as they can.  But this is not a fair fight when a large (giant by comparison) corporation masquerades as a plethora of dealerships in every zip code in order to take those leads off the dealer’s plate and sell them back to the dealer at a markup while also introduces spoilage in the process.  Unlike online tickets, automotive sales are very location sensitive.  This spam technique used in automotive will only confuse and potential frustrate consumers. Millions of non-existent dealerships across the country won’t help anyone – except Dealix.

Google has a Maps spam reporting page.  I encourage anyone who finds similar abuse to report it.  It’s good for the business as a whole.