Google Smart Shopping – Experiences from an Expert

Smart Shopping Campaigns originally launched its general availability at the Google Marketing Live event in July 2018. Smart Shopping is a new campaign type that pulls data from the product feed and tests various combinations of the image and text provided, ensuring the most relevant products are displayed across Google networks. These networks include the Google Search Network, the Google Display Network, YouTube, and Gmail. Using historical data from standard Shopping Campaigns, Smart Shopping campaigns automatically maximize the conversion value within a budget.

In the campaign settings, you can set a target return on ad spend, or ROAS, (For more about ROAS check out our calculator here) or CPA (cost per acquisition) goal. Google’s machine learning will aim to reach your set goal within your budget. These campaigns have mixed reviews online, but in most cases we have seen great success with our clients. 

Am I losing control or losing my mind?

The transition to Google Smart Shopping campaigns seemed overwhelming, as I’d spent many hours developing and optimizing legacy campaigns. I was hesitant to give up the control of decreasing bids or excluding individual items, and knew that this new campaign type would have its own learning curve. Despite my hesitation, I dug in and have been impressed with the performance the new Smart Shopping Campaigns are producing.

Based on a number of factors, these campaigns are able to automatically adjust bids, which means less product segmentation to build out. The automation took some adjusting to, but I’ve found that the control hasn’t been lost, only shifted.  

The Results Are In

The performance of Smart Shopping campaigns speak for themselves. One of our clients was not failing to meet their goal of 10x (or 1,000%  ROAS on shopping campaigns. Using the old “legacy” Shopping Campaign, they averaged around 6x for months. Within just two months of machine-learning with Smart Shopping campaigns, performance is better than ever. Now, they are averaging over 10x monthly, and this new strategy has proven to be very successful. 

Potential Roadblocks

There are very few roadblocks that we have discovered while working with Smart Shopping campaigns. There tends to be a 2-6 week ramp up phase where the campaign isn’t performing at it’s full potential. During this time the campaign is learning how to bid effectively on your products to get the maximum amount of conversions. If you are planning to start testing these campaigns, we advise waiting until after the holidays.

Success So Far

For the client I mentioned early, their campaign generated an increase in revenue of 1248% on Black Friday over last year. We are looking forward to what these campaigns will do through the rest of the holidays for all of our clients. While they aren’t for everyone, it’s worth considering if these campaigns could simplify your strategies.

Overall, we’ve been impressed with the performance that these campaigns have accomplished. Having worked with Shopping campaigns since their inception, I am convinced Smart Shopping is best for our clients and recommend them for nearly everyone. You can learn more from Google about Smart Shopping here.

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