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The Goals

  • Test the effectiveness of automated bidding versus manual bidding in driving quality web traffic for Nissan
  • Generate more qualified leads for Nissan for the same budget

The Approach

  • Set up A/B tests to assess the benefits of automated vs. manual bidding
  • Measure the pre-defined “cost-per-qualified-visit” (CpQV) KPI against algorithm-driven automated bidding results

The Results

  • Achieved higher-quality traffic compared to manual, fixed bids for Nissan
  • -14% Cost-per-click
  • +67% Conversion Rate
  • -33% CpQV


Published April 2018

As an experienced leader in digital marketing, OMD wanted to know if automated bidding could generate more qualified leads than manual bidding for display and video ads. To find out, the agency first suggested to its longtime partner Nissan to run head-to-head tests between the two approaches and compare the results. 

Testing machine learning for bidding

OMD’s goal was to test if it could use automated bidding to increase the number of qualified visits to Nissan’s website. A qualified visit is recorded when a potential customer views multiple website pages or completes actions that indicate a greater intent to purchase, such as watching a video or using a car configurator. 

DoubleClick’s automated bidding uses advanced machine learning to help marketers tailor the right bid to each and every auction. It factors in a wide range of auction-time signals -- including but not limited to device, location, time of day, remarketing list, language, operating system, etc. -- to capture the unique context of every impression. 

Nissan and OMD found that automated-bidding algorithms worked in synergy with OMD’s custom settings, such as curated placement lists, private deals and advanced brand safety controls. As a result, OMD was able to optimize campaigns in real time and find more qualified customers at scale while providing control over where the ads were displayed. With a manual approach, the team would have needed to invest time to create new campaigns for each ad format to reach a similar outcome -- not to mention that it’s nearly impossible to optimize bids manually in real time. 

The algorithms act as extensions of the OMD analysts. They analyze the campaign performance at a granular level to ensure the optimizations are more accurate and deliver faster results based on our parameters. Even our initial test results are proving the effectiveness of automation.

Alex Kraft, Managing Partner at Omnicom Media Group

OMD saw the cost-per-qualified-visit decrease by 33%, but most importantly, the team saw a 67% increase in the conversion rate due to the fact that automated bidding was able to boost performance and find higher-quality leads than any campaign in the past. Despite higher CPMs, the overall ROI rose significantly which means that higher costs can lead to better outcomes.

Doubling down on automation

By using new practices for automation, OMD gave Nissan a more effective way to reach interested consumers who are most likely to make a purchase. And for the client, the clear benefits have inspired wider use of the strategy across its campaigns.

It is exciting to see what performance uplift is possible within an already highly optimized campaign by switching from manual optimization to an automated bidding algorithm. We will continue to use this approach and expand it to other campaigns.

Philipp Müller, National Marketing Communications Manager at ‎Nissan Center Europe GmbH

About OMD Germany

OMD Germany is part of OMD Worldwide, a global leader in advertising, marketing, and communications, and a subsidiary of Omnicom Group Inc. Among its 5,000+ clients is the auto manufacturer Nissan, which turned to OMD Germany for help in implementing innovative campaigns to drive traffic, convert sales, and increase brand positioning for the German market. 

About Nissan Center Europe

The Japanese car manufacturer Nissan has operated since 1972 in Germany. Today, Nissan Center Europe GmbH with headquarters in Brühl near Cologne, oversees all activities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The product portfolio spans from the iconic compact car Micra and innovative models Juke and Qashqai to transporters, such as NV400 or the Nissan GT-R - the super sports car. Moreover, Nissan leads the way in terms of electric vehicles. The Nissan Leaf - the world's first electric car manufactured in high-volume - and the Nissan e-NV200 offer versatile emission-free transportation solutions.


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