What do you do when your product loses leadership in a competitive market? In the case of Mazda's innovative Mazda3, it meant re-engineering the digital brand experience and challenging its agency to win search. The resulting "two-ad" campaign generated over 70K clicks-per-month, increased conversion rates by 200%, reduced acquisition costs and delivered potential buyers to dealers across Canada. Learn more in our Mazda case study.


  • Generate new traffic
  • Drive conversions
  • Impact other auto manufacturers’ search campaigns


  • Built comparative Mazda3.ca website
  • Ensured appropriate linking and no duplicate content with Mazda.ca
  • Developed new creative for each competitive nameplate and adgroup


  • Over 70K clicks in the months since launch
  • Consistent impression share of around 65% per campaign
  • Search conversion rate increased almost 200% when two ads were present
January 2014


Mazda Canada creates an ambitious search strategy that captures a new set of customers for the Mazda3

The Mazda3 launched in 2004 and toward the end of the decade had reached the top spot in small car sales in Canada. By 2010, however, it had slipped to fourth position and the following year Mazda Canada recorded a drop in website traffic. The digital team's challenge was to help the Mazda3 regain market share. Goals included generating new traffic, driving conversions, affecting other auto manufacturers' branded search and creating an impactful, unique customer experience throughout the search process.

Customers are looking for more, so give them more

Mazda, working closely with its search agency Catalyst, wanted to display more ads especially on competitor searches for potential new customers who may not have considered the Mazda3. "Our goal was to target buyers looking at Mazda3's competitors, in a very direct and effective way," said Dave Klan, senior director of sales, marketing and regional operations at Mazda Canada.

Using a mix of historical, internal and third party data, the team created Mazda3.ca, a site presenting comparisons between Mazda3 and its competitors in the compact car segment. An optimization exercise eliminated duplicate content and created an effective linking strategy between the new site and Mazda's existing site. Having two separate domains—Mazda.ca and Mazda3.ca—meant that two ads could appear on search results at the same time, as each domain can display one ad only on the Google search results page.

AdWords campaigns were implemented on the direct competitive set with ads that highlighted the Mazda3's features and advantages. For example, if the Mazda3 had 20% better horsepower than another model being searched, a comparison ad would appear. New copy for each competitive nameplate and ad group was created with an emphasis on avoiding repetition with Mazda's main brand marketing. In all, over 2,000 new pieces of ad creative were written.

Powerful search ad extensions, such as sitelinks, are reserved for high quality and highly relevant ads. By presenting extremely relevant content even on competitor searches, Mazda was able to achieve high ad rank and quality scores. Normally, competitive campaigns have difficulty ranking high enough to include sitelinks, but this campaign strategy aimed to have these extensions appear on all Mazda3 ads.

By delivering thousands of potential new buyers to dealers across Canada, the campaign has had a big impact for Mazda Canada.

The project included keyword expansions based on best converting keywords and new areas that Mazda wanted to reach. The team used new bid management tools to help track and attribute traffic more efficiently, as well as Google Tag Manager to streamline the workload. Remarketing pixels were implemented on the Mazda3 site to continue the conversation well after the search.

If you build it, they will come

The strategy paid off, recording a consistent impression share of 65% per campaign. "The comparison page performance was amazing, low bounce rates and a high rate of return," said Ira Kates, account supervisor at Catalyst. "TeamMazda Search was elated that Mazda3 began to rank organically on competitor searches almost immediately."

In terms of search performance, the campaign registered an increase in conversion rates of almost 200% when two ads were present, while maintaining a 10% more efficient cost per acquisition. Keeping a large endeavour like this efficient was the main goal, and by working closely with the Google Canada Auto team, Mazda was able to maximize quality score and conversion rate while keeping CPC in check.

The project has generated over 70K clicks in the months since launch, and millions of search impressions now have Mazda on new consideration sets. "In fact, the months directly following the campaign's launch were the biggest year-over-year gains for Mazda3 since 2009," said Michael Tsang, interactive marketing supervisor at Mazda Canada.