Google’s Smart Shopping campaign type was launched in April 2015. This brought new levels of automation to Google Ads. Although Smart Shopping has been around for some time, advertisers continue to discover how it can benefit them.

We’ll help you answer any questions about Google Smart Shopping campaigns. We will also cover how to set it up, optimize, and when to use Smart Shopping.

What are Google Shopping Smart Campaigns (GSSC)?

Smart Shopping is machine learning taken to the next level by Google Shopping. It is also fully automated.

Shopping campaign management can be tedious and time-consuming. It involves setting priorities, product groups and bids, as well as identifying negative keywords. Smart Shopping Campaigns eliminates the need for this tedious work.

It is not necessary to set targets, audiences or placements. The system displays the correct products at the right time and place. It also selects the target audience. These decisions are made based on the likelihood that the ads will convert into sales.

Where Smart Shopping ads show

This campaign is almost self-driving and requires little maintenance. Smart Shopping Campaigns have a wider reach across all Google networks. They also use smart bidding strategies to maximize conversion value.

These ads will appear across Google’s Shopping, YouTube and Gmail display networks, Shopping, YouTube and YouTube through product Shopping ads and Local Inventory ads.

How to Create Smart Shopping Campaigns

Before you can start creating your campaigns, you will need a Merchant Center account that is linked to your Google Ads account and a product feed. Make sure your feed is updated at least once per month (30 days).

Google says that you need at least 20 standard shopping conversions within the past 45 days. The more data you have, the better. It’s not difficult to do so, but don’t let it stop you from starting.

Requirements before you start

  • You must meet the requirements for Shopping Campaigns
  • Follow the Shopping Ads Policies
  • Follow the Policy on Personalized Advertising. This policy is for Smart Shopping Campaigns remarketing

Recommendations to improve performance

You can start your campaign without these, but Google indicates that your spend (and therefore the reach of your ads) might be limited without them.

Conversion Tracking

Conversion tracking can be set up to track online purchases such as signups, phone orders, and store visits.

These are valuable data and information that can be used to improve your campaigns.

Dynamic remarketing

Dynamic remarketing is possible with two pieces of code that you can add on to your website to enable dynamic marketing: The global site tag (or the dynamic remarketing event shortcode).

You can track who visits your site and what events they have. This information will allow you to create personalized remarketing ads. Google has the code required and how to set it up on its help page.

It is crucial to add it correctly to your website. It’s not as simple as copying and pasting code onto your website. You can either hire a programmer to assist you or contact Google’s technical team for assistance if you aren’t comfortable with modifying code. You’ll be able email your web developer the exact code during the setup process.

You must add the global site tag to all pages of your website. The event snippet can also be added to pages where you want visitors to be tracked. This could be on product pages, shopping carts or any other page that you wish to track how shoppers interact with your services.

The event snippet can be placed anywhere you like, but it must not exceed the global site tag. Each type of business has its own event parameters, which should be replaced in the code. These parameters can be found here so you know which one is right for you.

Create a remarketing audience

Remarketing lists can be used and you should continue to add to them as your campaigns progress. To make your remarketing campaigns work, you must have at least 100 visitors or users within the last 30 calendar days. If you already have a list associated with Google Ads, then you don’t need to create one. If not, we’ll show you how to create one.

How to make remarketing lists

Create an audience source. This is where you gather information about your users. This is where you will use the global website tag that we discussed previously. Google will alert you when someone visits your website and add their cookie ID on your ‚Website visitors‘ list.

  1. Log in to your Google Ads account > Tool icon > Shared Library
  2. Visit Audience Manager > Audience Lists
  3. To add „Website visitors“, click the blue plus button
  4. Type a descriptive name, then choose a template from „List members“.
  5. Select the rules that you would like to apply to your list.
  6. You can choose the size of your list (this refers to how many people visit your site in a given time frame). You can include visitors who visited your site within the last 30 days if you have remarketing tracking.
  7. You can decide how long you want your visitors to stay on the list.
  8. If you wish, create a description of your audience and click ‚Create audience.

Make sure you have all your assets available

Assets can be additional information or images that you have about your company. These assets will be arranged in different ways to create ads. Google does this automatically. Google will show assets that perform better than others. This is how Google’s machine-learning works to deliver the most effective ads.

These ads will be shown to those who have visited your website, but have not indicated that they intend to purchase something. This could be someone who visits your website but doesn’t add any items to their shopping cart.

Display ads are different from Search ads in that they choose which visitors to show their ads to based on past interactions with your site. If a visitor to your website shows a lot interest in a product, then they will most likely be shown that product from your catalog.

These assets are required:

Logo

  • If you have already uploaded your logo to your Google Merchant Center account, you will be fine.

Images

  • Upload a professional marketing image of your business.
  • Text is permitted, but it should not exceed 20% of the image.
  • The maximum image size recommended is 1200×628 pixels.
  • Landscapes must have a ratio of 1.91 to 1
  • Maximum file size 1MB

Text

  • This text can be used to create ads. Copy that has performed well on your site can be a source of inspiration. These are the limits.
  • Headlines of 25 characters or less
  • Long headlines should not exceed 90 characters
  • Descriptions: These are used for single-product ads. They can be automatically pulled from your copy if there is enough space in the ad.

Final URL

  • Give the link to which shoppers will go when they click on your ads.

Video

  • This optional asset can be added. Google will automatically create short videos if you don’t have a promotional video ready.
  • It will likely take you around 45 days to see results once you begin. Give it time before making any changes to your campaigns. This is because machine-learning is active and needs time to gather data from your products.

14 easy steps to set up you smart shopping campaign

  • Register for your Google Ads account

  • Go to the section ‚Campaigns

  • Click the + button to add a new campaign and select New Campaign

  • There will be a space to indicate the goal of your campaign. You can choose ‚Sales‘, or leave it blank. Below, we’ll talk more about conversion goals

  • The campaign type should be Shopping

  • Only one Merchant Center account can be linked to your campaign and it cannot be used in more than one country. Select the Merchant Center account that holds the products you want to use

  • Choose ‚Smart Shopping Campaign as the subtype

  • Click ‘Continue’ and choose a name for your campaign

  • Set a budget

  • Choose your bidding type. Google will automatically have it set to maximize your
    conversions while staying within your average daily budget

  • Do you have a performance goal? Put your desired ROAS here

  • If you’d only like to add some products, choose them here. We recommend adding all your products to give Google more opportunities

  • Add the ad assets

  • Preview and save

Don’t forget about the priority a Google Smart Shopping campaign has over a regular Google Shopping campaign. So if you are advertising the same products via both, Google will choose the ads from the Smart Shopping campaign to display to the potential customers. This is why it makes sende to deactivate the regular campaign to not lose the resources.

How Google Shopping Smart Campaigns Work

Smart Shopping uses feeds from Google Merchant Center to create ads. This process works the same way as standard Shopping or standard dynamic display ads.

Smart Shopping campaigns combine insights from Google and retailers with machine learning. The objective is to increase revenue or reach the advertiser’s target ROI (return on ad investment).

These indicators are included in the remarks:

  • Search queries
  • Seasonality
  • Localization
  • Device
  • Product price
  • Cart size
  • Product category
  • Listener lists
  • More

Google’s algorithm automates the process of deciding when and where to display your ads. The likelihood that the viewer will convert is the basis for the selection of the appropriate time, place and product.

Are Google Shopping Smart Campaigns the right choice for you?

Google Smart Shopping allows you to automate the management of your Google Shopping ads. You may be unsure if it is the right decision for you.

Smart shopping is definitely a great option for:

  • Campaigns that are too time-consuming for the average person
  • Google Shopping Debutants
  • Google Shopping Ads is a new area of expertise for retailers with little knowledge or experience
  • Retailers who have a lot conversion data and large lists for remarketing

Users should also remember that Smart Shopping implies that they have to give up full control of the campaign and only have limited access to data analysis and monitoring.

When Smart Shopping might be not your best solution

In most cases Smart Shopping will be the best solution for you Shopping campaign. But there some cases where you might consider using the standard shopping campaign type.

  • Collecting search term data is important to you
  • Having terms you don’t want to advertise towards (negative keywords aren’t available)
  • Wanting to control what creative you advertise and who you advertise to
  • Trying to change your goals based on real-time data
  • Wanting to allocate unique budgets to shopping efforts vs retargeting efforts

Here are some other potential drawbacks you’ll want to consider before deciding to move forward:

  • Location targeting is not available. In fact, all you can do is set the country of sale, but you can’t target a specific region or exclude a city.
  • Ad Schedule is not available
  • Device targeting and bid adjustments are not available
  • Audience targeting is not available. Although, as said before, you must have at least one audience list with 100 users, you can’t decide which audience to use as a target. Google will choose automatically based on its machine learning algorithm
  • Reporting-wise, a few important columns are not available (yet):
    • Search Impression Share
    • Search Abs Top IS (analytics metric: absolute top impression share)
    • Click Share
    • Search Lost (Budget)
    • Search Lost (Rank)

What is the diffence between Smart Shopping and Standard Shopping?

Visually, the Smart Shopping ad does not differ from the standard ads. For the user, it is therefore not recognizable what type of ad it is.

One difference is that an additional campaign must be created for normal remarketing. A Smart Shopping campaign includes the remarketing and the shopping ad. With the evaluation of user signals, the algorithm automatically plays the ads to the appropriate users.

The setting options for smart campaigns are limited in contrast to the standard ones. Bid management is completely handled by Google and cannot be set individually for each product. The location or the devices for the placements can be edited. However, settings on the product level or the evaluation of where which ad is presented are not possible.

Compared to the usual shopping campaigns, the smart campaigns are prioritized. This means that the playout of the Smart Shopping ads is preferred to the standard ads as long as the budget is not used up. Under certain circumstances, this can lead to the smart ads taking impressions away from the standard ads. Therefore, it is important to keep the budget for the smart campaign low for active and well-running shopping campaigns.

Can I run Smart Shopping and Standard Shopping simultanously?

Yes. Both campaigns can be run simultaneously. There are situations when one campaign is better suited to your needs than the others. Let’s look at some scenarios to see if Smart Shopping is right for you.

Google recommends that you stop all regular Shopping and Dynamic Remarketing campaigns if you include your entire product catalog in a Smart Shopping Campaign. Although Smart Campaigns are considered to have priority over other campaigns for the same product, we recommend that you still follow Google’s advice. This is to avoid over-serving ads and wasting money.

Automated bidding – How Smart Shopping Campaigns Aim at Revenue

Automated, or ‘smart’ bidding strategies use machine learning to automatically set bids based on the expectancy of a search term converting. To capture the unique context of the search, the algorithm uses a wide range of auction-time signals. It takes into consideration the device used and operating system, as well as location, time of the day, remarketing list and language.

It’s quite an attention-grabbing, interesting shift in how Google approaches automated bidding strategies. Google implies its effort to find new solutions tailored to retailers. Online retail space becomes more and more competitive and Google definitely doesn’t want to be left behind Amazon.

Smart Shopping Campaigns allow for another bidding strategy, which targets ROAS. It still aims at conversion value but with more control over the ad spending. This strategy is more likely to be used by those advertisers who need to meet strict ROI targets.

Smart Shopping Strategy for budget and targets

The only control you have as a merchant over bidding is setting your daily budget (mandatory) and a target ROAS (optional). That’s why it’s so important to choose these wisely.

By default, Smart Shopping campaigns use a maximize conversion value bid strategy. It aims to drive the most revenue possible at a given budget. It also takes into account your target ROAS goal if you provide it.

Target ROAS

Setting a target ROAS is optional, but should you be using it? This is the return on ad spend percentage you want to see from your ads that you communicate to Google.

Google’s recommendation: don’t add one (or if you do, not an extreme one) because it may limit how its machine learning works.

You can let it be at first and then after a few weeks of testing and getting results see if you want to change it. Don’t set it too high because then Google might stop sharing your ads if it can’t achieve that ROAS. You might find out that some products are better staying in a separate campaign with a higher or lower budget.

Conversion goals

By default, your campaign will have the goal of making as many conversions as possible within the given parameters (your budget, if you set up a target ROAS, etc.). When it comes to picking additional conversion goals, you have a few options.

There are a few different supported combinations you can choose:

  • Just sales
  • Sales and physical store visits
  • Sales and getting new customers
  • Sales, physical store visits, and new customers

New customer conversion goal

Wondering how the system distinguishes new users? There are three kinds of data taken into consideration and for the highest accuracy Google recommends utilize all three:

Google’s Native Data:

This will happen automatically when advertisers select the NCA target and it uses a 540-day validity period based on its own data

Self-Reported Data:

New customers may be tagged with a combination of the Global Site Tag and new customer parameters.

First-Party List: 

Advertisers can upload their customer list to Google Ads.

Since the bid strategy of Smart Shopping Campaigns is to maximize conversion value, it will rely on the Total Conversion Value you calculate.

Dynamic Prospecting with Smart Shopping Campaigns

Google’s help pages talk about dynamic prospecting, but you might not have heard it before.

„Dynamic prospecting brings user information and product information together to show your best product at the right time to the users who would be the most interested. Unlike dynamic remarketing, which is focused on getting the most value out of your existing customers, dynamic prospecting is used to acquire new users. This difference makes dynamic prospecting the preferable method if you’re a new advertiser or if you’re targeting an audience different from your own first-party data (including your remarketing lists).

How dynamic prospecting works

Dynamic prospecting uses machine learning to get an idea for what potential buyers are looking for. Once the system knows what the user is after, it combines that possible intent with demographics-based information such as age, gender, and household income to match the user with a product in your feed. The products in your feed are evaluated based on performance, relevance, and other factors to determine which ones are most likely to catch the user’s attention and lead to conversions.“

It is the combination of user information and product information to present your best product to the users most interested.

What makes it different from dynamic marketing?

Dynamic remarketing targets customers and shoppers you already know with the aim of getting the best value. However, dynamic prospecting is designed to bring you new customers. It allows you to show your ads to both people who have visited your site before and to those who have not. It suggests products to people who are more likely to be interested in them.

This is a great method for new advertisers that don’t have a customer base or who want to target a different audience.

What does this mean for your campaigns?

Google has access to tons of demographic data (age, income, and interests) about its customers. Apps and third-party data are used to collect this information. This data is used to evaluate your products for relevance, performance, and other factors that will help you decide who is most suited to your ads. It is important to show potential customers items that are similar to theirs and convert those ads into sales.

5 keys to a successful Smart Shopping campaign

Smart Shopping campaigns work automatically so it is important to provide Google with all the relevant information to maximize the machine learning effects.

Start with one product type

Google recommends that you target a particular product group first, while you leave the rest of your shopping campaigns running. This is to ensure that you don’t disrupt your Google Ads activities or performance.

Optimize for new clients

Marketers can use the new customer acquisition target to create a separate conversion value to allow new customers to be informed about Google’s automated bidding. Because existing customers may have already made a purchase, targeting new customers can be beneficial. However, it is possible to make additional purchases by introducing Google’s automatic bidding to new customers.

Performance evaluation

You should wait at least 30-45 days before you start looking at the data and making conclusions. Once you are satisfied with the results, you can add additional product groups to complete your product catalog. If you are not satisfied with what you see, identify the areas that need improvement and make any necessary changes.

Your headlines, copy and images may need to be updated. You can also look at the prices of competitors to determine if you need to adjust your discount strategy.

Segment your products

Don’t worry about product segmentation and campaign priorities. Only one Smart Shopping Campaign should be created that targets your entire product catalog. Google will help you decide which product to display at the right place and time.

Segment your products into multiple product groups. This is possible even with the same campaign, and even when targeting the entire catalog. You can then get detailed reports and be able to gauge campaign performance by analyzing how products groups are performing.

A fully optimized product feed

This is one area you have complete control. You already know what you should do if your Shopping product feed is optimized. We’ll be discussing optimization strategies that Smart Shopping can use in the following sections.

Smart Shopping: Data feed optimization

Feed optimization is an important part of Smart Shopping optimization. Google uses feed health information to determine where and when your products appear in searches.

Check out the Google Merchant Center

Make sure to check for any item or feed issues and ensure that the feed is kept up-to-date. To keep your feed healthy, and avoid warnings, errors and notifications, you can refer to our 10 Most Common Google Merchant Common ERRORS article.

Test Product Titles with Feed Rules

Set up products to test and control groups. You can then use custom labels in your feed to create your feed. Next, in the Merchant Center set up your title testing via Feed Rules.

Analyze performance by comparing click-through rate and impression share (impressions/impression shares).

Get Smart Shopping with Custom Labels

To segment and test products in Smart Shopping campaigns, use the custom labels in product feeds.

To isolate high-performing or popular products, it is a good idea to use custom labels. This can be used to create segments such as top products or gateway products.

Smart Shopping Summary

Understanding Smart Shopping is key to maximizing your Shopping experience and adding value. Google offers advertisers more machine learning access, but it doesn’t always translate into better results.

It is simple. It will result in less time managing accounts and potentially better results. It gives you the chance to test out campaign performance and then go from there.

Smart Shopping campaigns are a bit mysterious for some advertisers, but the potential performance boost makes them worthwhile.

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