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The past few years have witnessed the tremendous growth of automated solutions, and Google has been at the forefront of such innovations. From responsive ads to bidding solutions, Google is setting the pace for what’s coming in the future for advertising and retail.

Google Shopping is a great e-commerce platform and has been available for some time. However, it has been somewhat complicated to create and manage campaigns. Google’s innovations are making this easier and accessible for more advertisers.

So What's New With Google Shopping?

Just recently, Google launched Smart Shopping Campaigns which combine machine learning technology with the latest automation to Google shopping. With Smart Shopping campaigns, shopping campaign management will no longer involve the tedious and time-consuming work of setting campaign priorities, bids, product groups and negative keywords. Smart Shopping campaigns allow advertisers to show ads across search, Display, Google Maps and YouTube within the same campaign.

Google has adopted a fully automated process of showing your ads. There are no audiences, targets or placements to be set. The system is designed to show the right products to the right audience at the right time, based on the chances that the ads will convert into sales. As such, this new campaign type is pretty much self -driving and requires very little maintenance.

How Does Google Smart Shopping Work?

Google Smart Shopping uses machine learning and automated bidding across intent signals to cut down the amount of time required to optimize campaigns. On Google Search, users will search queries, and Smart Shopping uses predicted intent to determine which product from your feed should be shown.

As an advertiser, all you need to do is merely enter the objective of your campaign and the budget, and Smart Shopping sorts out the rest with the placement of ads and automatic bidding. This means that Smart Shopping will automatically optimize towards maximum revenue for your budget.

Automated Ad Placement

Unlike other automated campaigns, such as smart bidding strategies or Smart Display campaigns that aim at conversions, Google’s Smart Shopping campaign aims at revenue. This is an exciting shift by Google to find new solutions customized for retailers. The automated creation and placement of ads mean that your ads will appear in the most relevant spaces and that your bids will be designed to maximize your conversion value.

And this is precisely what retailers aim at: conversion value. By trying to generate as much revenue as possible out of any given budget, the strategy works for retailers with smaller budgets and bigger stores looking to simplify their campaign management. Recent findings by Google’s early testing of Smart Shopping campaigns revealed that advertisers who leveraged this new campaign strategy drove 20% more conversion value at a similar cost.

Getting Started with Google Smart Shopping Campaign

Smart shopping combines display remarketing with standard shopping. If you’re already targeting products using those campaign types in your active account, pause them before using Smart Shopping. You can always use your existing display remarketing and standard Shopping campaigns to estimate your budget. Reallocating the same amount to your Smart Shopping budget will make it easier to compare the success of the respective types of campaign.

Google advises advertisers to target all available products with a single campaign for better performance and simplicity. Setting up your Smart Shopping campaign is a simple process.

Start by heading to the Google Ads User Interface (UI) and create a new campaign. Next, select Shopping as your campaign, select “Sales” as the campaign goal, select your Merchant Center account and click “Goal-optimized”:

Things To Remember With Smart Shopping Campaigns

Bear in mind that your new Smart Shopping campaign will take priority over existing Display and standard shopping remarketing campaigns targeting the same products within the same account.

The next step involves choosing your first product group. By default, and unless you specify otherwise, Google will automatically add all the products in your existing product feed. The reason for that is that when Google displays Smart Shopping ads, they consider products your potential clients have already considered on your website, then serve ads correlating to details on your campaign.

Therefore, it’s advisable not to specify otherwise as you don’t want to exclude any product(s) the prospects may have looked at. Nonetheless, you can still create new product groups even after the campaign has started.

The Ad Preview will show you how the ad will look like on Shopping and display Network.

If your site visitors haven’t yet looked at any of the products on your website, Google will serve ads based on the products images and descriptions you upload. The ads will deliver as responsive marketing ads on Display and YouTube who have visited your site but haven’t yet shown an interest in any of the products.

That’s what’s outstanding about Smart Shopping campaigns.

Minimum Requirements for Google Smart Shopping

Here are a few stipulations to consider before creating a smart campaign.
  • You have to meet Google’s requirements for Shopping campaigns
  • You need to set up Google conversion tracking
  • You’ll need to add a global remarketing tag to your site. Alternatively, you can connect your Google Analytics account and use it to manage your tags

Smart Shopping Campaigns: Best Practices

As with any innovation, the best way to establish whether it’s working for you is to test it extensively.

  • If you’re not ready to opt all of your products in, target a specific target group rather than your entire catalog, leave the others running in normal shopping campaigns to avoid disrupting your normal AdWords activities and performance
  • Use a 15-day benchmark when comparing performance between Google Smart shopping and other types of campaigns. If you’re happy with the results, you can add other product groups until you’ve eventually added the entire product catalog
  • If you’re not meeting your conversion value goals, consider targeting ROAS (return-on-ad-spend) bidding to reach your minimum goals
  • Like any other standard shopping campaign, optimize your product descriptions, titles and images to ensure they’re relevant
  • One of the best ways to increase conversion volume is to lower your target ROAS

A Few Drawbacks

Before delving straight into a Smart Shopping campaign, there are several limitations you should be aware of before starting:

  • Negative Keywords are not available
  • Ad schedule is not available
  • You can’t exclude a city or target a specific region as all you can do is set the country of sale.
  • Bid adjustments and device targeting are not available
  • Ultimately, you’ll be sacrificing some control for better campaign performance.

Bottom Line

What ‘s not to like about Smart Shopping? Google is providing greater access to automation, and while it may not necessarily translate to better results, one thing is for sure – it saves time you would otherwise use to manage your account. At the very least, Smart shopping gives you the opportunity to test a new campaign performance and work your way from there.