Get Smart [Shopping]: Understanding Google’s New Smart Shopping Ads

In line with Google’s continuing efforts toward creating a more automated platform, the new Smart Shopping initiative in Google Ads allows advertisers to connect a product feed to a campaign that finds audiences who are most likely to buy, wherever they might be.

What Is Smart Shopping?

Smart Shopping is essentially a Shopping campaign subtype that can be summarized as “Smart Display meets PLA Shopping.” It’s a Shopping campaign that uses machine learning to automate bids, find audiences, and show your ads across the Search Network, Display Network, YouTube, and Gmail.

How Does It Work?

Google takes the information from your product feed to create traditional Shopping PLA ads. You create a Display ad with your own image assets and text.

Using machine learning, Google determines the best combination of text and images as well as the best ad network, then shows them to a remarketing audience in order to maximize your conversion volume. Google targets these ads to your “All Site Visitors” remarketing list, Similar Audiences, and the top five remarketing lists in your account.

Does It Really Work?

If your account meets the requirements laid out to be eligible for Smart Shopping, then it should see a lift in conversions almost immediately. An initial study said that early adopter accounts saw “Smart Shopping campaigns unlock 20% more conversion value than standard campaigns.”

My team tested Smart Shopping on an account that had a product category that was struggling to find buyers. By including this category in a Smart Shopping campaign, we immediately started to see strong results. At a slightly higher average CPC to traditional Shopping campaigns, we generated roughly 3x the number of conversions we had been seeing previously.

Below you will see average daily metrics for the product category in a traditional Shopping campaign and a Smart Shopping campaign.

What Are the Risks?

As with any brand-new effort, it’s always wise to be cautious when testing it. First, be sure to review Google’s requirements and recommendations for setting up a Smart Shopping campaign. Then, remember these cautions:

  • Smart Shopping uses a Maximize Conversion Value bid strategy.
    • Setting a target ROAS is optional.
    • Bids are automated and can’t be adjusted.
    • The Maximize Conversion Value bid strategy type is known to exhaust more of your daily budget than other strategy types.
  • Smart Shopping automatically determines the best placements across the ad networks.
    • Adjusting bids on certain placements is not available.
    • You can, however, exclude unprofitable or inappropriate placements.
  • Smart Shopping takes priority over your other Shopping campaigns.
    • Whatever product categories are included in Smart Shopping will no longer see traffic in non-Smart Shopping campaigns.
    • Consider testing out Smart Shopping with a small product category, then scale up to include more as you see the campaign succeed.

Still wondering if Smart Shopping campaigns are for you? Schedule a no-obligation, 20-minute Google strategy session, where our expert analysts can find areas of opportunity in your account that can lead to more profitable revenue. Claim your spot today!

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