VDPs are not Conversions!

Poor conversion setup in Google Analytics (GA4) is the leading reason for poor digital marketing performance in the automotive industry. Many digital marketing vendors measure the wrong things in Google Analytics – GA4 (and in Google Ads), which negatively impacts leads and ultimately hurts sales for the dealer. If the dealer isn’t holding their digital marketing vendor accountable, each vendor decides what to count as a conversion. This means that Conversions and Cost per Conversion are often not meaningful nor comparable between vendors.

One reason a digital marketing vendor will count VDPs as conversions is to artificially make themselves look good. Counting VDPs as conversions falsely inflates the number of total Conversions and lowers the Cost per Conversion. It also tricks GA4 into showing a higher Engagement Rate, even when the customer immediately leaves the site. Another reason a digital marketing vendor will count VDPs as conversions is when setting up good conversions is too complex or difficult. This is often seen with Performance Max (Pmax) / Vehicle Listing Ads (VLA) campaigns. A digital marketing vendor can trick the Performance Max/Vehicle Listing Ads campaign into behaving like an old-school maximize-click strategy by setting VDPs as conversions and then linking the VLA ads to VDPs.

Poor conversion setup is also frequently seen with Toyota SmartPath. Getting visibility of activity and conversions on the Toyota SmartPath subdomain is difficult. Consequently, digital marketing vendors may set up some unusual conversions instead of tracking form leads on the SmartPath subdomain. For example, a digital marketing vendor may count every click to the SmartPath subdomain as a conversion, which is effectively just like counting the inventory results page on the dealer’s website as a conversion. This is just as bad as counting VDPs as a conversion.

The bottom line is to judge your digital marketing on good conversion data and not superficial site metrics. Make your digital marketing vendor show you what events they have marked as conversions. Consider switching digital marketing vendors if your current vendor is counting VDPs or SRPs as conversions in Google Analytics (GA4) or Google Ads.

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