Hello there, my loyal followers!

In this blog post I’ll walk you through my experiences with Google’s Smart Shopping campaigns and why I’ve recently become a fan of them.

To start, according to Google, smart shopping campaigns will, “Simplify your campaign management, maximize your conversion value, and expand your reach…” This campaign subtype combines standard shopping and display remarketing campaigns, and uses automated bidding and ad placement to promote your products and business across networks.”

There’s a lot of jargon in there but it sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? I mean, who doesn’t want maximized conversion values, expanded reach, and simplified management, right? Sign me up! But wait, you can’t add negative keywords or control your ad placements? That lack of control is concerning!

The Scenario

I work with a brand that came to us using only the smart shopping campaign for all of their shopping traffic because it was quick and easy to set-up. Honestly, performance was pretty solid at the time but they were only spending a few thousand dollars a month on these smart shopping campaigns. I was concerned about what might happen when we ask this single smart shopping campaign to spend tens of thousands of dollars. Would it be able to scale efficiently or would we see significant diminishing returns? That said, I recommended that we move away from smart shopping, opting to build non-brand and brand campaigns based on product categories, allowing us to push budget to those campaigns with the highest ROAS and profit margins.

The Test

After the restructure, we set our new campaigns to Target ROAS and just let them run while doing SQRs a couple of times a week. Performance was great as we were beating their YoY sales goals but I couldn’t stop thinking about that smart shopping campaign. It performed really well and we really only moved away from it because we wanted more control over our campaigns. Nonetheless, a few months later I recommended we test running smart shopping in conjunction with our standard shopping campaigns.

This test led to some very interesting results to unpack. I knew going into the test smart shopping would take top priority, meaning it would serve ads before any of our standard shopping campaigns. None of our standard shopping campaigns would serve ads until smart shopping had exhausted its daily budget.

The Results

Long story short, in running the two campaign types together we saw our overall shopping CPL decrease while our ROAS increased. A huge win! 

But at the same time our spend was drastically reduced. Smart shopping, while performing well, took its sweet time spending its daily budget to the point where our standard shopping campaigns only had a few hours each day to spend their budgets.

smart shopping test results

The results were too good to ignore but I needed to figure out how to get our spend back up to maximize reach and revenue. It was at that point I decided to take a leap of faith and transition all of our standard shopping campaigns to smart shopping, as a test.

If nothing else, I believe smart shopping is worth testing if for no other reason than the maximize conversion value bid strategy, which isn’t available in standard shopping campaigns. You also won’t have to run SQRs ever again which will save a lot of time! Really, the only thing smart shopping won’t do for you is managing your feed so you best be sure your feed is in tip-top shape to see your best performance. 

If you have feed errors, check out Chloe Pascoe’s post, “Preventing and Navigating Google Merchant Center Suspensions”. You can learn how to avoid common merchant center pitfalls and save future self from major headaches.

I only recently launched the new smart shopping structure so I don’t have any statistically significant results to share with y’all yet but I’ll be sure to make my next blog post a follow-up piece to this. Until next time!