The world of digital marketers is certainly iterating rapidly! Smart Shopping campaigns have brought an unprecedented level of automation to paid search, however, it can be hard to assess where to confidently add value to an account and to justify (with data!) why a client should move to Smart Shopping AND continue to pay your agency fees.
Here are our top 6 strategies to help you solve that very problem…so let’s dive in!
It’s a little-used strategy, but very powerful; by using a mix of standard and Smart Shopping for most accounts you can provide strategic value while also showing your client that you’re bringing your expertise to the table.
For new Google Ads accounts with no account history, you can start with standard Shopping campaigns. This allows you to build up conversion volume before committing to automated bidding and gives you intel into search terms and audience behavior that can be used to inform a wider strategy for the account.
If you have specific search terms that you want to control visibility for in the search results (maybe this is a strategic marketing or business goal to compete with a competitor or to enhance your brand awareness for a particular product or category), standard Shopping campaigns allow you to do this effectively. Smart Shopping campaigns do not. Smart Shopping is NOT the solution to achieving all business objectives for a client.
You can use standard Shopping to catch any leftovers from Smart Shopping campaigns. For instance, if Smart Shopping doesn’t target a specific auction, or is using budget for only particular products, you can enhance this with a standard Shopping campaign.
Smart Shopping campaigns are great but can still be quite volatile and dependent on particular metrics (like conversions and conversion values). If something goes wrong with your conversion tracking, or if you have sudden drops in traffic volume, this can really tank a Smart Shopping campaign. Keeping a standard Shopping campaign live will help to ensure that you’re continuing to capture search activity, should something like this happen.
Make sure you monitor your standard Shopping campaign traffic volume. If you do see a large increase in impressions or cost, it could indicate a problem with your Smart Shopping campaign.
It can be tempting to put all products into one ad group and let the algorithm go. This is not always a bad thing, in particular when you’re dealing with lower volumes of conversions (e.g. <50 conversions over 30 days). If you’re dealing with a high level of conversion volume though, you can be quite strategic about how you set up your Smart Shopping campaigns.
The foundation of Smart Shopping campaigns is the ROAS target. If you have significantly different groupings of ROAS targets between your products/categories, you can explore creating different campaigns for them to ensure you’re maximizing the algorithm’s optimization.
Consider these two common but vastly different campaign product categories:
Putting those 2 categories into the same campaign with an average ROAS target might not necessarily give you the optimal results for both. So, if you have enough conversion volume, you could think about putting those products into different campaigns and optimizing to the more relevant ROAS target for each group.
Smart Shopping optimizes to the best performing products based on your goal. That means that some products might get limited visibility, or worse, none.
How do you know if this is happening with your campaigns?
If the answer to either of those questions is “yes” then move those products to their own campaigns (traditional or Smart) and see what happens; you could find that they’re successful on their own but get swallowed up when in the group.
It can be tempting to use Smart Shopping as a set-and-forget tool or to just ‘leave it to the algorithm’, but as we know, ads and ad creative are key in paid search, and Smart Shopping is no different. The average client isn’t confident with creative, but it’s where you can really help add value as a digital marketer.
Smart Shopping doesn’t provide many opportunities to implement our normal paid search optimizations, but one thing we do have control over is the product feed, and the quality of the data being fed into the Google Ads algorithm plays a huge part in how successful the campaign is at optimizing to your goal.
Oh.. and finally, ensure that you’ve opted in to display products organically in the free product listings.
We know that Smart Shopping campaigns work, but they also take away much of the data richness that we’re used to as paid marketers. This is a shame, as the data signals that we get from paid search campaigns can inform the strategic decisions we make as a wider marketing team (brand messaging, social, inbound, SEO), and further, this data opaqueness robs the actual business of insights and business intelligence they could use to make better-informed decisions.
So, while we all take a deep breath about how we feel about that, let’s remember that there are still things we can find out and use!
Use the price competitiveness report in Google Merchant Center to understand how other retailers are pricing the same products. Just ensure that you’re in the Market Insights program for Google Merchant Center.
The primary takeaway from the above is that despite the lightning pace of automation and the rapid maturation of Smart Shopping, digital marketers still have an important role to play in making our shopping clients successful (phew).
Just to recap
If we look at it through the lens of the above we can acknowledge that while not yet perfect, Smart Shopping is fantastic for digital marketers. It allows us to add value in all these areas for our clients, instead of just sinking time into manual bidding.
Explain all of this work process to your clients and they’ll be delighted to have you watching their back!