When Nissan Canada wanted to drive awareness of its new car models and find a more personal way to engage its consumers, it turned to a variety of Google solutions. To attract new customers without the usual sales pressure, this forward-thinking brand launched its Virtual Showroom channel on YouTube. It also created Engagement Ads campaigns for the Rogue, Versa Note and Micra cars, followed by YouTube Masthead campaigns across the Google Display Network. TrueView ads also stirred interest, using YouTube video. With its revamped digital strategy, Nissan's engagement rates soared by 120%.


  • Drive awareness of new Nissan models


  • Launched the Nissan Virtual Showroom on YouTube to attract new viewers
  • Used Engagement Ads campaigns for Rogue, Versa Note, and Micra
  • Repurposed TV content, making it more appealing for digital
  • Used Brand Lift to measure effectiveness of Micra YouTube ads


  • Overall engagement rates for all three campaigns were about 120% better than benchmarks in Canada*
  • +900K engagements overall
  • 21% overall lift in brand awareness and 61% recall for the strongest Nissan Micra ad
September 2015

Offering a range of stylish, affordable, fuel-efficient models, Nissan Canada takes pride in being an innovative car company. Innovation also distinguishes its digital marketing and model launches. Nissan continues to position itself as a forward-thinking manufacturer through extensive, imaginative use of YouTube Masthead and TrueViews ads, plus Google's Engagement Ads.

Personal connections with the brand

From the beginning, the purpose of Nissan Canada's digital strategy was to "engage the consumers more personally with the Nissan brand," says Rimi Singh, Nissan brand director for TBWA\Toronto, one of Nissan's digital agencies. "So we started the Nissan Virtual Showroom, an online destination where the vehicles can speak for themselves."

Launched in 2011 on Nissan's YouTube channel, the showroom offered hundreds of walk-through videos for consumers to interact with new car models without sales pressure. It was also available on mobile, with augmented reality to deliver extra power to Nissan's print ads. Following up on its success with the Virtual Showroom, Nissan became one of the first users of Engagement Ads.

It introduced the first of three Engagement Ads campaigns in 2013. Beginning with the Nissan Versa Note, it later launched campaigns for the Rogue and Micra models.

"Build a bigger story"

The demographic groups that Nissan aims to reach "are pretty much consistent across many of our core models_namely, the 35-to-54 age group," explains Mary McNeill, senior manager, marketing communications, Nissan Canada. "There is nothing better than having a creative device like Google Engagement Ads to let consumers engage with your product."

The goal of each of Nissan's Engagement Ads campaigns was to increase overall awareness for one of its models, Singh says, then "leverage the content and build a bigger story in our digital executions to really get that engagement going." When launching the Versa Note, Nissan used every Engagement Ads format available at the time.

Nissan Canada launched the YouTube Masthead for all three car campaigns, then used Masthead Lightbox Engagement Ads to extend the Masthead across the Google Display Network (GDN). At the same time, it used TrueView ads to engage its audience with YouTube video.

More engagement and efficiency

Nissan Canada repurposed creative TV content, improved it for digital and made it more appealing than an ordinary video or banner ad. Google estimates that the Engagement Ads campaigns performed around 120% better than standard digital campaigns in Canada. "We feel that Engagement Ads really helps us give a better brand experience to customers who may not be familiar with us," McNeill says. "We learn as we go with each campaign, and it just gets better each time."

Nissan focuses on ensuring that its campaigns reinforce one another. In the competitive Canadian crossover market, for example, the Rogue videos alone attracted 2.5 million views. "We noticed that views have increased for videos of other models as well," says Lucia Mancuso, head of digital for TBWA\Toronto. "Bringing traffic and views to the Rogue spots also helped people engage more with the brand and view more branded content on YouTube. All of Nissan's Engagement Ads campaigns have been very strong in terms of engagement and efficiency."

The car company used Google's Brand Lift solution to measure effectiveness of TrueView ads for its Micra model in July 2014. Nissan produced two ads for this campaign_one featuring actor Jim Parsons, the other a standard brand video. Brand Lift showed a 21% overall lift in brand awareness compared with a control group not exposed to the ads. Brand Lift also showed that the Parsons ad was much more effective than the other, with a much better recall (61% versus 25%). In addition, Nissan learned that the YouTube ads resonated strongly with key demographic groups_women ages 25_34 and 45_54.

Strong results

"Nissan likes to be first to market and an industry leader in terms of digital media," says Chelsea Craig, digital media specialist at OMD Canada, another Nissan agency. "We are always looking to Google to try out new platforms and products. Our reach definitely would not have been the same without Engagement Ads."

"Every time Nissan runs an Engagement Ads campaign, the metrics are not only the best in Canada for the auto industry, but the numbers are good globally as well," McNeill says. Overall, engagement rates for all three campaigns were 120% better than benchmarks in Canada, she adds. "Moving forward, we definitely intend to use Engagement Ads as a regular part of our media planning and creative messaging."


* Google internal data