Best Strategies for Smart Shopping Campaigns in 2021 Q4 Accounting for 76% of the total retail search ad spending, shopping ads are the most popular ad format among advertisers.

Posted by Kata KOVÁCS
· 22nd July 2021 · 6 min read

However, setting up a Google shopping ad is time-consuming and can be complex and tedious for some retailers.

If you are a retailer looking for an effortless way to run ads on the internet, Google Smart Shopping ads can be the ideal pick for you.

Here's all you need to know about Google Smart Shopping ads and how to get the most out of them.

What Are Google Smart Shopping Campaigns?

Google Smart Shopping campaigns are automated shopping campaigns that use machine learning to show your ads to the right audience at the right place and time. Smart shopping ads are the newest advertising product by Google that allows advertisers to run ad campaigns in a hassle-free manner.

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If you run an eCommerce store, you must've used Google Shopping ads. They're effective in reaching your target audience, increasing brand awareness, and driving conversions without the need for investing in SEO. However, standard shopping campaigns require too much optimisation. You need to create a product feed, add product attributes, choose keywords, define the target audience, and set priorities.

Often, advertisers create multiple campaigns, such as campaign A, campaign B, etc., to test various versions and identify the best-performing campaign.

With Google Smart Shopping campaigns, you don't need to do any of that. All you need to do is select your budget and campaign goal. Smart Shopping then performs automated bidding using different bidding strategies. It also defines the target audience and takes care of ad placement and other aspects of setting up Shopping ads.

In all, these campaigns are tailor-made for sellers. You can launch them in a few clicks without the need to perform endless hours of testing and optimisation.

Where Do Smart Shopping Ads Show?

Since Smart campaigns are self-driven, they can show pretty much anywhere on the internet. They can appear across YouTube, Gmail, Shopping, and Google Display Network through shopping and display ads and local inventory ads. Smart Shopping ads use the "maximise conversion value bid strategy" to show your ads across all Google networks and get more conversions.

Here's a quick overview of where Smart Shopping remarketing campaigns appear.

Google Search Network: On search engine results pages (SERPs), when users search for a relevant keyword
Google Display Network: On websites and mobile apps that are a part of the Google Display Network
YouTube: On YouTube homepage, videos, and search results page
Gmail: In the form of promotional emails

Here's What You Can Do with Smart Shopping Campaigns

Smart Shopping campaigns can be an alternative to standard shopping ads. With Smart Shopping, you can automate your shopping and dynamic display campaigns while enjoying the same benefits they offer.

Here's how smart shopping ads can benefit your business.

Broaden Your Reach

Smart Shopping enhances your reach in two ways. First, it shows your ads on the GDN, shopping ads, YouTube, and Gmail, which helps you get more eyeballs. Second, your reach isn't limited to the keywords you target. You can reach a significantly larger audience with smart shopping ads than with standard shopping ads.

Drive Traffic and Sales

Driving more traffic and sales are the key objectives of any advertising campaign, and smart shopping ads help you achieve that. Since your ads will reach a larger audience, they will get more clicks, resulting in higher website traffic and more leads and conversions.

Google shows results for Smart Shopping campaigns in terms of conversion value and return on ad spend (ROAS). These two metrics are best for understanding how your products are selling, which are the most profitable after advertising costs, and which you should change to maximise your profits. Tracking these over time will show you trends in product popularity, sales volume, and profitability.

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Benefits of Smart Shopping Ads

One of the biggest benefits of Smart Shopping Ads is that they are super easy to set up and launch. With a few clicks, you can reach internet users across the globe via Google search and display networks.

However, there are other benefits of Smart Shopping campaigns, including:

Reach a wide and previously unreachable audience

Minimal campaign management required

Campaigns are automatically optimised as per goals and audiences

Advertisers need to pay only for the clicks

If you're a small-time investor looking to run ads online without going through a lot of complex processes, you should be using Google Smart campaigns.

How to Create a Smart Shopping Campaign

1. Set Up a Google Merchant Centre Account

In order to launch a Smart Shopping campaign, you'll need to set up these four things:

A Google Ads account
A Google Merchant Centre Account
A link between your Google Ads and Merchant Centre accounts

2. Set up Your Product Feed

The Smart Shopping campaign pulls data from your Product Feed, so you must ensure this is properly set up. While this sounds like another chore, there are some advantages to going through your product feed:

  • It’s good to check your product details are all correct.
  • You can verify you have all the right assets such as images, titles, and descriptions.
  • Reviewing your pricing is always a good idea.
So, before you get started with your Smart Shopping campaign, set up your product feed and ensure it has the correct data.
3. Create a New Shopping Campaign

Once you have your Google Ads account linked to your Merchant Centre account, log into your Google Ads account. Head to the Campaigns section and select New Campaign.

4. Select Smart Shopping campaign in Campaign Subtype

In the Campaign subtype, select Shopping and then select the Merchant Centre account. Ensure that your Google Merchant Centre account has the updated product feed as per the feed rules.

5. Set a Daily Budget and Bid Strategy

The next step is to select a daily budget and set your bid strategy. Add a performance goal (target ROAS) if you have one in mind. Google recommends leaving the target ROAS blank because this gives the machine learning algorithm the most flexibility with your bids. Unless you have a compelling reason, we think you should follow this advice.

The other aspect of your bid strategy is your conversion goal. You can choose from just sales, sales and store visits, or sales, store visits, and new customers. Mix and match these goals to suit your ambitions for your campaign.

6. Choose Products and Upload Assets

The last step is to choose products or groups of products you want to advertise in your Smart Shopping campaign. Then, upload assets like logo, text, image, etc. Preview your ads and then click Save.

You can split campaigns to make more specific ad groups. For example, you could split a footwear section into winter shoes, sandals, or formal shoes.

Get the Most Out of Your Google Smart Shopping Campaigns

While Google Smart Shopping Campaigns don't require any optimisation, following these best practices can help you get the most out of your Smart Shopping campaigns.

While they do not require optimization, you can add product exclusions or category exclusions for items you don’t want to feature in your ads. This could help develop more targeted campaigns for specific seasons or audiences.
Great Smart Shopping Campaigns Use Remarketing Lists

Google Smart Shopping ads use dynamic remarketing to target users who visit your site. Growing your remarketing list can increase the coverage and performance of your Smart Shopping ads.

Google uses custom parameters to identify which products on your website are your website visitors interested in. Setting up custom parameters isn't necessary to run Smart Shopping campaigns, but doing so can help you reach a wider audience and achieve better performance.

If you want to run your campaign without custom parameters, Google will display your ads based on the data collected from your global site tag or Google Analytics.

Track Conversions to Monitor Return on Ad Spend

Conversion tracking can help you gain helpful insights, such as top traffic sources, conversion rate, the average cost per conversion, etc. This way, you can monitor and maximise your return on ad spend (ROAS).

A Smart Shopping campaign also allows you to set a target ROAS. For instance, if you have an advertising budget of £1,000 and your target goal is to get £5,000 in sales, you can set the target ROAS to 500%. Google will then optimise your campaigns based on your ROAS.

However, if you set an unrealistically high ROAS, Google may not spend your entire ad budget, and your sales may decline. Therefore, it's essential to set a realistic ROAS. 120-140% is a good number, as per the historical average.

Explore New Types of Ads

As discussed earlier, Google Smart Shopping allows you to leverage multiple remarketing ads formats, including product shopping ads, local inventory ads, and display responsive ads. Each ad type is unique and offers different benefits. If you want to accelerate the performance of your Smart Shopping ads, explore multiple ad types.

Analyse Your Performance

Once you launch a Smart Shopping campaign, let it run for 30-45 days. Evaluate the performance data of your campaign based on the following metrics:

Impressions and reach
Click-through rate (CTR)
Cost per click (CPC)
Total conversions and conversion rate
Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

Note: The average conversion rate for display placement Smart Shopping ads is 7.43%.

If you reach your desired performance goal, you can add your full product data feed. If you don't achieve the expected results, find what's not working well when using smart shopping. Are you using the wrong advertising products? Are your product listing ads not engaging? If users aren't engaging with your ads, it could be that your headline, description, or image need to be reworked.

Also, look at the marketing strategy of your competitors and which product type and the campaign type they are using. Compare your prices to them and see if you need a new discount strategy.

Connect Third-Party Platforms to Your Google Ads Account

In addition to linking Google Analytics to your Google Ads, you can add third-party platforms like DataFeedWatch to filter products through feed rules. You can also integrate tools like Salesforce and CRM systems like HubSpot and Pipedrive to manage all your marketing and advertising campaigns from one place.

Third party apps are useful, but similar features are available in Google Merchant Center. You can add custom labels and rules. Advanced users create label and rules to test products against each other. Custom labels can be used to test product performance in Smart Shopping campaigns vs standard Shopping campaigns.

When Should You Not Use Smart Shopping Campaigns?

The biggest drawback of Smart Shopping Campaigns is that advertisers don't have full control over their campaigns. You can't choose keywords, segment target audiences, and rule out negative keywords. You can't select the campaign types, search terms, customer interest, campaign subtype, etc.

Advertisers can choose conversion goals, and how the ad appears on the search network display will depend on Google's machine learning algorithm. Moreover, advertisers can only track conversion metrics and ROAS. You can't collect other data reported from the campaign.

Here are some instances when Smart Shopping ads may not be the right choice for you.

You're targeting new shoppers or trying to capture new users
You want to optimise your campaigns based on real-time performance data
You want to collect search term information
You want greater control over your campaigns


Features like automated bidding, dynamic remarketing, and smart bidding strategies powered by machine learning make Smart Shopping ads an excellent alternative to standard shopping campaigns. However, there are certain limitations to Smart Shopping campaigns that advertisers should keep in mind. For professional help, get in touch with one of our experts here at Optimum Click. We can help you evaluate your campaigns and make a plan for how to drive more sales and revenue.