Case Study – SureHealth – May 2017

Our Smart Display Campaign Increased conversion rates by 157%


Green Shield Canada (GSC) has been in business since the 1950s and they are a not-for-profit provider of health and dental benefits. Their health plans give Canadians access to breakthrough medications at affordable prices.

GSC came to us with the opportunity to promote their new SureHealth product for health and dental plans called LINK. Our primary goal was to increase awareness while providing targeted and interested traffic to their site. We used a Google regular Display campaign to increase clicks and a Google Smart Display campaign to increase conversions.

By measuring the number of people who signed up, we achieved an increase in conversions by 157%.

The Background

SureHealth is Canada’s only national not-for-profit health and dental benefits specialist. Their website has four LINK benefit plans with options to get a quote, request a brochure and/or submit an application.

The product was specifically designed for Canadians who were about to lose their group benefits due to job loss/change or retirement.

Although people do not promote job losses/changes on the digital profiles, we were still able to find the right audience and increase conversions.

Responsive ad

An example of a responsive ad. Google uses various elements and resizes ads based on the site it is displayed on.

The Solution

Using our resourceful efforts and our affiliation with Google, we found a perfect match for the challenges we faced.

Google was launching a new product called Smart Display. We have helped SureHealth in the past with Google’s regular Display campaign with the goal of awareness and branding. Incorporating the Smart Display Campaign was a perfect fit to increase our results.

A Smart Display Campaign allowed us to set a cost per acquisition and upload elements for dynamically generated banner ads. After that, Google’s algorithms did the rest. Google Smart Display automates bidding, targeting and also banner ad creation which leads to more acquisitions based on performance — essentially, this provided an extremely affordable version of programmable advertising via Google’s Display Network.

The Smart Display campaign learns as it progresses by responding to each sale and refining variables. There is no need for A/B testing or ongoing optimization. Read more here about Smart Campaigns from Google support.

Smart Display allowed us to cast a much wider net for our targeted audience based on interests (sites they had visited) rather than relying on profile attributes.

To measure the effectiveness of the Smart Display, we set up the campaign using completed applications, quotes, brochures and contact requests as the “acquisition” criteria while testing it against a regular Display campaign that was running at the same time to accurately compare results.

Responsive ad

An example of a responsive ad. Google uses various elements and resizes ads based on the site it is displayed on.


We compared the results of the Smart Display campaign with a regular Display campaign that ran at the same time. The reporting period was June 6th, 2017 to July 3rd, 2017, allowing a few weeks for the automation to learn and optimize its targeting.

Regular Display Campaign Smart Display Campaign
Setup Maximizing for Clicks
Cost per Click (CPC)
Maximizing for Acquisition
Cost per Acquisition (CPA)
Results 0.66% conversion rate
0.67% clickthrough rate
1.7% conversion rate
0.18% clickthrough rate

The regular campaign had a higher clickthrough rate, while the Smart Campaign had less clicks and a higher conversion rate. The conversion rate of the Smart Campaign was 157% higher than the regular Display campaign.


Targeting: is it showing to the same audience?

The product used for this case study targeted Canadians looking for employment and those soon to retire. We targeted retirement planning as a segment. Interestingly, we also targeted Employment from January until March and found it very weak. The conversion rates of non-Smart Display was 0.72% for retiring vs 0.11% for people looking for employment. Thus, we ended the Employment campaign before this test.

Looking at the data from the visitors who clicked on the banners revealed how the Smart Campaign adjusted its targeting based on conversions. Some of the results were surprising.

Regular Display Campaign Smart Display Campaign
Targeting 55-64
18% 65+
51% 55-64,
15% 45-54
31% 65+
35% 55-64,
15.5% 45-54
No targets set
61% Female
39% male
46% female
54% male
Affinity categories
Higher proportion of these interests compared to the other campaign (ones with most difference)
30 minute chefs, TV lovers, family focused, book lovers Entertainment and news junkies, shutterbugs, cooking enthusiasts
In market segments
(what people are shopping for)
We targeted retirement planning Smart Campaign found Employment and Dating Services to convert well (unlike our previous Employment campaign), along with the Retirement Planning segment
(both set at Canada only with Quebec excluded)
Proportional More in Ontario, less in British Columbia.


Since our regular Display campaign was optimized for clicks and the Smart Display campaign was optimized for conversions (acquisitions) the results are logical. The regular Display campaign had a higher clickthrough rate and the Smart Display campaign had a higher conversion rate. With these results, we have learned that a mix of both campaigns would serve well for this product (and others). This allowed us to target users unaware of the product using a regular Display campaign (i.e. creating awareness and interest). Users who were considering or ready to purchase were targeted with a Smart Display campaign (i.e. increasing conversions). The Smart Display campaign was also able to pull in people seeking employment and get them to convert at an acceptable rate. Something we were previously unable to do with the regular Display campaign.