7 Car Dealership Advertising Ideas

7 Car Dealership Advertising Ideas

Written By Eric Schlesinger

Okay, so you know you need to put out car ads, but you’re not sure where to put your efforts. Maybe you’ve run a few campaigns with minimal success. Maybe worse, you dumped a respectable amount of money into a car ad platform that returned nothing but a few wishy-washy leads.

Dealership marketing isn’t easy, but you’re not alone!

If you’re anything like me, I thrive when I have a specific direction. Like adding bumpers to my bowling lane, the clear path gives me the ability to stay focused on my target and ultimately achieve better results - sometimes even hitting a perfect strike (I know, it’s impressive!)

So I believe that when it comes to digital ads for your car dealership, having some clear direction is the key to building an ad strategy that works well. ActivEngage has put together a list of 7 car dealership advertising ideas to give you more precise direction in your ad strategy, whether it's a new car or used car ad!

#1: Make the Most Out of Facebook Ads

Facebook Cars for Sale on Marketplace

Facebook has quickly become the most popular platform for car ads. The reason? Facebook Marketplace. You can generate car ad campaigns right inside the social media supergiant, and connect all of it with managed messaging support from ActivEngage.

Facebook Cars Advertising is Highly Effective

Facebook today is an automotive advertising haven. Their popularity and effectiveness at understanding consumers make them an ideal place to spend your ad dollars. Facebook ads help dealers generate more car sales and capture new audiences every day, so if you haven’t considered advertising on Facebook, we highly recommend that you look into it!

Facebook Advertising Policies

Facebook has its own internal procedures for reviewing ads. These policies are mostly there to filter out prohibited content like hate speech and other inappropriate content, but for the vast majority of automotive ads, these restrictions never come into play. If for some reason a Facebook ad is not approved, you will be notified of the issue and given directions on how to adjust the ad so that it gets approved.

While you cannot post car inventory on Facebook Marketplace anymore, it is still advisable for some ad spend on Facebook, given its massive reach potential and extremely large user base.

#2: Create Video Ads that Connect Your Car Dealership to Something Unique

Dealership Marketing with Video

There’s nothing quite like video. People are consuming more and more video content online thanks to the fast Internet and popular streaming services like Netflix and YouTube. So naturally, when it comes to automotive advertising, the use of video becomes almost mandatory. Throw a good car description and the car's unique selling points, and you've got a stellar ad!

Even a used car ad can encourage action in prospective buyers with the right messaging, information, incentives, and advertised price. Highlight outstanding gas mileage, if a vehicle is a family car, any warranty coverage, that your used vehicles are in excellent mechanical shape; any thing you can put in the ad description to show many buyers what they are in for and can make them feel assured in their decision.

You could also make a quick video ad addressing the most common buyer questions, which can give prospective buyers added peace about their choice in working with your dealership.

Car Advertising is All Visual

Cars are also visually appealing, which makes an even stronger case for video ads. Even something as simple as a 5-second ad of someone revving an engine, or a quick showcase of a car's unique options, can be an effective video campaign for potential buyers. It captures the attention of car buyers through sound while simultaneously suggesting your dealership has a sporty inventory.

And if you advertise on YouTube, the repetition of the ads could generate a significant increase in brand awareness. You could even consider quick videos of a walk around or a montage of good photos, as showing all the details of a well maintained vehicle from all angles can further serve to bolster customer trust.

#3: Rethink Brand Awareness Through Creative Ads

Digital Marketing Dealerships Need to Consider

Advertising cars is the obvious choice for dealership marketing, but it’s not the only choice. Consider keeping your digital ads new and interesting by focusing on the potential buyer lifestyle around owning a great car. Photos typically can convey lifestyle, but remember to think about the superiority of video visuals.

Out-of-the-Box Digital Advertising

Maybe even take an unusual marketing angle like presenting faux testimonials from happy garages or showing a series of jealous family members with big frowny faces. Unconventional and creative ads tend to stick in people’s minds better over time, and if done well, the ads will integrate with your dealership's reputation, making a positive lasting impression. Buyers watch ads that entertain or speak to a solution they need, and it's key to gaining that initial buyer's trust.

7 Car Dealership Advertising Ideas

#4: Send out Direct Mailer Advertising that Customers Won’t Throw Away

Avoid Car Advertisement Strategies that Continuously Fail

Nobody likes receiving junk mail. On the flip side, nobody wants to throw money away by sending junk mail either. Far too often, auto dealers find themselves spending large amounts of money to design, print, and mail out flyers that go directly in the consumer’s trash bin.

The rationality behind it is rooted in visibility and name recognition. Still, the problem is that the cost of this kind of advertising is way too high, and the return on investment is way too low.


Try New Direct Mailer Advertising Ideas to Avoid the Trash Can

Direct mailers still do have value; however, they’re just not utilized very well among dealers. Enter: context. Instead of mass-mailing consumers in a zip code at random, consider sending out mailers to specific types of customers offering specific services instead.

For example, you could send a direct mailer offering an at-home detailing service to all customers who purchased higher-trim vehicles in the last 45 days. Ads with context like this may end up missing that trash can.

#5: Mix Up Your Digital Advertising Suite

Some ad platforms may be more effective than others (see Facebook above). Still, just like a balanced investment strategy, it’s not a good idea to put all your resources into one advertising channel. Effective digital marketing involves utilizing numerous ad channels at the same time.

Car Advertisements Can Be Everywhere!

Consider trying new advertising placements (print car ad, digital, affiliate websites, search engines, etc.) in addition to your heavy hitters and see what kind of engagement you get from them. Some ad platforms have very small ad spend minimums, and that exploration may prove to be worthwhile, especially if none of your competitors are advertising in that space. Post quality photos on billboards, in magazines, on park benches; there are so many choices, just make sure the medium makes sense and visibility is high.

#6: Use Social Media for All It’s Worth

Likes, comments, and shares on your dealership’s social media posts only help your brand grow and expand its reach. Similar to unconventional ads, if your dealership presents itself as relatable on Facebook or Instagram for example (avoiding the aggressive car-selling mentality), then there’s the potential for your brand to resonate more effectively with potential customers in addition to improving your reputation in the community.


Social media is not just for young people. People of all demographics and age brackets use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram regularly. It may take some investigating to find the specific groups of people that you want to align your brand with, but that task is not as daunting as it may seem to be at first. With a steady and consistent social media strategy, you can attract buyers searching for a sought after vehicle more readily.

#7: Take Advantage of Advertising Websites

Stand Out on Aggregator Websites

Listing your inventory on Cars.com or Autotrader.com is a great way to get visibility on your cars. But why stop there? Aggregator sites like these also offer ads and promotional options. Whether that means boosting a listing to the top of a search category or inserting a skyscraper ad on the site, the options are there; it’s just a matter of timing and budget.

Smaller Advertising Websites Could Bring Bigger Visibility

Additionally, ads on smaller car dealer blogs could prove to be effective. When working with a smaller vendor, you may need to reach out and build up that relationship over time. They may be interested in becoming an affiliate of yours or creating some custom ads packages.

Utilize a 3rd-Party Service like ActivEngage or Dealer.com for your Advertising

There are several great services on the market that specialize in automotive advertising. ActivEngage offers solutions that mix advertising with human engagement, creating a highly personalized experience for a better close rate. Dealer.com provides website management services in addition to comprehensive advertisement strategies.

Advertise Your Dealership Better with ActivEngage

ActivEngage's engagement solutions help you advertise the customer experience of your dealership expertly and clearly.

Check out these engagement solutions that advertise various aspects of your dealership to excite and encourage shoppers to complete their path to purchase.

  • ActivTarget, for behavioral offers (that you can use for service deals!)
  • RetailSync, for live digital retailing guidance.
  • MyDrive, video test drives and overviews.

Ready to discover how ActivEngage helps your dealership succeed?