Smart Shopping is a sub-type of Google ads campaign, where a lot of the work setting up the campaign is automated using Google’s AI, their in-depth bank of data, and their knowledge of user’s traffic.
There seems to be some disagreement on the efficacy of Smart Shopping by paid advertisers who use Google. Is it an easy way to save time while running killer campaigns, or is it inferior to operating campaigns with complete control over every little detail? Let’s break it down for you!
What are Smart Shopping ads?
Google states that Smart Shopping campaigns are a combination of shopping and display remarketing types. There’s not really that much difference between them at all, except for the fact that Google uses machine learning to manage your campaign for you, while also optimising it for conversions and best performance. That’s where the ‘Smart’ part of the name comes from!
Leaving the management of your shopping campaigns up to Google seems to be quite a smart move because Google claim that businesses that use Smart ads received a 20% higher conversion rate than those who don’t at a similar spend.
Another benefit of using Smart ads is that Google uses remarketing to put your ads in front of customers who are most likely to convert at that time.
Google say that this is purely due to remarketing, but it seems instead like it works through dynamic prospecting. This is when Google targets people who aren’t existing customers of your brand and is due to the plethora of information that they have on all of us and our shopping habits. Spooky!
Leaving Google in charge of your campaigns does have some potential drawbacks, though. For example, when using Smart Shopping, there’s a limit on what search term data you can see in your reports, and you also can’t use certain features like negative keywords, device targeting, and location-based targeting beyond country-wide.
How does Smart Bidding work?
When you run Smart Shopping ads, you don’t have to waste time faffing around with bid settings as Google does all of that for you with Smart Bidding.
All you have to worry about is setting your daily budget and a target ROAS if you wish. If you don’t set a target ROAS, it will automatically be set at 200%. It’s recommended that you stick with this (at least at first) because if your ads underperform then Google can stop running them altogether as there’s no chance of reaching your lofty target ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend).
Google uses data from your previous campaigns and signals from your potential customers to submit an auction time bid for your ads. You can help Google decide on a bid by specifying what your goals are for your adverts (such as whether you want to maximise conversions or your return on ad spend, or you want the lowest cost per acquisition) and they’ll take this into account when automating your campaign.
What are Smart Goals?
Smart Goals are designed for people who aren’t currently tracking their own conversions.
With Smart Goals, Google can identify all of the visits to your site through Google Ads and find the most successful sessions. Then, they use the top 5% of all website visits through Google Ads to apply a goal-setting to your campaign.
‘Successful’ here is defined by measurable factors like session duration and pages viewed per session. These sessions are the most likely to end up converting as they’re reflective of people who are the most invested and engaged in what it is that you do.
To make use of Smart Goals, you must be receiving between 500 and 10 million Google Ads analytic sessions in the last 30 days.
Really, you should be running conversion tracking by yourself because the data will be more reliable, trustworthy, and relevant.
Google Smart Shopping results
Smart Shopping generally shows really good results but there are tricks to using it to see the best results.
For example, because Google decides on what items to push from your entire feed, you could find that you have one item selling really well and this takes up the majority of your ad budget.
In this case, you might be better off creating a separate campaign for your best seller alongside your current Smart Campaign. This way, you may find a brand-new best seller while your one keeps performing as good as ever!
This is one of the best ways to see results, and is one method that we used to achieve these results with one of our clients recently.
How to switch Smart campaign to normal Google ads
It is not possible to switch from a Smart Shopping campaign to a Standard Shopping campaign.
When you select Smart Shopping campaign as your campaign sub-type, you’ll see a small note from Google that says ‘this selection can’t be changed later’.
So, if you want to make the switch, you’ll have to start a brand new campaign. When doing this, your product feed will stay the same so you won’t have to worry about transferring over all of your products and filling in the required information for them.
Should you use Google Smart Shopping ads?
There are some perquisites that need to be met for your account to qualify for Google Smart Shopping. But anybody who qualifies and runs an ecommerce site with an online store and a product feed should be using Smart ads.
Here’s a word from our paid media manager, JP, on Google Smart Shopping campaigns:
“A lot of Google Ads marketers dismiss Smart Shopping due to the lack of data which is available to them when using it. However, it does show the most important metrics: cost per conversion, conversion value (revenue generated) and return on ad spend.
Smart Shopping has the power to generate fantastic results with guidance from paid marketers. We become the driving instructor instead of the driver.”
There you have it…Smart Shopping is fantastic and should be used, at least in conjunction with standard shopping ads, wherever possible!
However, there is a small caveat to this going forward.
Google has recently introduced ‘Performance Max’ campaigns which will essentially be the next generation of Smart Shopping campaigns and will actually replace them gradually over the course of 2022.
This is definitely something to keep your eye on if you’re a business or a paid ads manager, and rest assured that we’ll keep you updated with our thoughts on Performance Max as soon as possible!
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