Building a Car Marketplace Ad Platform: The Ultimate Guide

Chris Shuptrine
Chris Shuptrine
Building a Car Marketplace Ad Platform: The Ultimate Guide

As part of our industry-specific deep dives, today we are tackling the automotive marketplace space and looking at how car marketplaces can drive new revenue through native ads and sponsored car listings.

Why should automotive marketplaces look into sponsored car listings?

The automotive industry is crowded right now, and it's getting harder for brands to differentiate themselves from competitors. With every brand telling a similar story to prospective buyers and sellers, how does one grow faster than another?

car marketplace list

Ad revenue is capital you can use to beat your competitors

No matter the industry, the marketplaces willing to invest in custom ad products grow the fastest. There are of course the industry leaders — Amazon's Sponsored Products, eBay's Sponsored Listings, LinkedIn's Sponsored Job Listings, etc. — but many others have also used native ads to fuel their growth.

marketplace ads

This is no surprise. With ad revenue being extremely high-margin, who would turn down a low-effort, scalable revenue stream, especially (if done right) the ads blend in and don't impact the user experience?

It's no different for car marketplaces; you are in a great position to build your own vehicles ad server that can be a key pillar of your growth over the next few years.

What are the benefits of sponsored car listings and native ads?

car marketplace ad platform benefits

The true value of a custom automotive ad platform is new, high-margin revenue.

Edmunds, for instance, used Kevel to build a sponsored vehicles listings platform and drove 30% more company revenue (case study here). This is capital that enabled Edmunds to hire, scale their platform faster than competitors, and ultimately sell to CarMax for over $400 million just two years later.

edmunds automotive ads

Beyond that, there are other benefits too, including driving more seller adoption, using ad impressions as "free" make-goods, and an improved user experience from more targeted content.

What goes into an automotive ad platform?

No automotive ad server will be the exact same, but those that succeed will share some common characteristics.

Sponsored car listings, for instance, will be your key ad unit, and it's important you offer sellers and dealers the ability to target by location, model, and so on.

car marketplace ad units

Native ads inserted into the user experience — and likely bought by car manufacturers like Toyota and Honda — can also be used to drive new ad revenue without resorting obtrusive banner ads.

car marketplace ad units

You could also optimize what listings users see when they log-in, even before they make a search. This could be targeted using first-party data like their past browsing behavior, or by using an algorithm that takes into account what is selling well around their location.

automotive marketplace ad units

These are just some of the ad ideas you could incorporate into your car search marketplace. Our full Ultimate Guide looks into the entire list.

What are the key features needed?

The beauty of building a car ad platform in-house (versus using a third-party ad server) is that you have full control over its customization and scope, and you can design exactly what you want.

Prioritizing those features, though, is an art, not science, and it's important to offer features that your advertisers have come to expect from other ad platforms.

One of those needed features is first-party data targeting. If you know that someone has been searching for SUVs, for example, you could have Ford pay to promote their Ford Escape to that user.

car marketplace ad features

A self-serve UI will also make it easy to scale advertiser adoption. By giving dealers, sellers, and advertisers a way to log-in and manage ads themselves, you save yourself from having to hire a large sales and ad ops team.

car marketplace ad features

These are just two of the ten features we highlight in our Ultimate Guide.

Want the full Ultimate Guide to Automotive Ad Monetization?

Our free eBook looks at:

  1. The benefits of launching a custom, in-house ad product
  2. The top 10 ad units your car marketplace needs
  3. The top 10 ad features you'll want to offer
  4. Why it's so hard to build an automotive ad server
  5. How to build your cars ad platform in just weeks

Chris Shuptrine
Chris Shuptrine

Chris has worked in ad tech for over fourteen years in a variety of roles - giving him customer support, PM, and marketing perspectives from both the advertiser and publisher sides. He's the VP of Marketing at Kevel.