Google Smart Shopping Complete Guide 2022

You really don’t need much outside of an ecommerce store and a google ad account to get Smart Shopping Campaigns up and running.

 

The Requirements are:

  1. Google Merchant Center Account & Feed – with the product data active
  2. Conversion Tracking
  3. You will want to be tracking Ecommerce Conversion transaction values
  4. Have a Remarketing Audience set up
  5. A Lifestyle Banner for Display Ads (More on this later)

I also recommend making sure you read and understand the Shopping Ads Policies and the policy on Personalized Advertising. Being aware of these can help prevent your accounts being suspended.

 

Smart Shopping For Shopify Stores

Getting Smart Shopping set up for Shopify is extremely quick and easy.

How To Set Up Smart Shopping Campaigns

Setting up a Smart Shopping Campaign takes under 5 minutes once you have satisfied all the above requirements. 

  1. Sign into your Google Ads Account
  2. Either click the “NEW CAMPAIGN” button on the overview page OR go to the Campaigns section on the left hand side and click the +button & then click new campaign
  3. You’ll be asked to select the goal of your campaign. Select “Sales”.
  4. Select Shopping as the Campaign type
  5. If you have multiple merchant center accounts listed in the next step,you can only select one. You can also only select one country as well.
  6. Choose Smart Shopping as the campaign subtype and click continue
  7. Choose a name for your campaign. I normally will name it something like “Smart Shopping Campaign – All Products”
  8. If you have a Target Return on Adspend (ROAS) set it. If you don’t or this is your first campaign, leave it blank.
  9. Set your daily budget. This is for you to decide but I wouldn’t go lower than $10 – $20 per day. Ideally set it $50 to $100 to make sure you give the algorithm plenty of budget to play with.
  10.  I don’t set an end date but if you need to do that and then click Save And Continue
  11.  On this next page you can choose to only select particular products, brands etc. If you want to do this you can but I recommend trying including all your products
  12. You will now need to create a responsive display add which will need a logo (uploaded in your merchant centre), the display banner image mentioned earlier, a video (optional), a short headline, long headline, description and a final URL (I normally select the home page or all collections)
  13. Click Save and your ads will begin delivering soon

 

Simple Smart Shopping Strategy

I like to keep my Shopping strategy very simple. For most people having one campaign with all their products included, will be more than enough.

The trick to getting this working though is time and budget. Let the Google algorithm do its thing by testing products and placements out. When I say time, let the campaign run a full month before touching anything! On a smaller budget one month may not even be enough.

If your performance is lacking after this period then I’ll be covering in the next sections what you can do to improve it.

Smart Shopping Campaign Best Practices

How to Optimize & Fix Poor Performing Smart Shopping Ads

The first step in optimizing a smart shopping campaign is to do a really small decrease in the campaign budget. This can quite often improve performance. I know it may not make sense, but a small tweak can really reset the campaign.

If this does not improve campaign performance within a few days, I set a target roas to where I am at break even. I normally find I have to do a few small tweaks here and there changing the ROAS target. Remember just small changes and give it some time to readjust.

I will also focus on any poor performing products. Really look at the products and try and work out why they are getting clicks but not selling. Is it price? Can you improve the image or title? Is there just too much competition? This is more of an art than a science. But with enough practice you will get a feel for why a product isn’t selling. If all else fails, remove or exclude the product from the campaign

Google Merchant Centre & Data Feed Optimization

My rule of thumb with anything to do with optimization is “the more information you can give Google the better”. Remember that when utilising machine learning, the quality of your data is extremely important to achieving a positive result. If you give accurate, clear and relevant data then Google is far more likely to be able to show your products to the correct audience.

The other thing I always consider is making sure the information I’m giving is relevant and accurate to what someone might be searching for. The reason for this is that machine learning algorithms are only as good as the data you input!

Scaling Google Smart Shopping Campaigns

Scaling any type of advertising campaign can be tricky. Smart Shopping campaigns in particular can be very temperamental when it comes to scaling or making any significant changes. 

The reason for this is, the machine learning algorithm needs to relearn and readjust whenever you make a significant change. The way to get around this is to make small, infrequent changes. This lets the algorithm do it’s thing, automatically optimizing your google campaign over time.

When scaling any kind of smart campaign, I aim to do small infrequent budget increases. What small is depends on what your budget is and how well the campaign is performing. For most people 20% would be the absolute maximum increase I’d suggest. Most of the time I do 10% budget increases every few days.

You can do large increases, but I’d leave the campaign run for 7 – 14 days to allow the campaign to reoptimize at this higher budget.

 

Smart Shopping Performance Killers

Any major change to your campaign, product feed or website can impact the performance of your campaign.

I also find that big changes in search volume can also cause drops in performance. For example the period after Black Friday & Cyber Monday is often a very poor performing period for ads.

 

The Disadvantages of Smart Shopping

While I’ve told you all about all the benefits of smart shopping. I also want to educate you on the disadvantages and when you may want to avoid using them.

  1. Lack of control of the search terms you appear for
  2. Google does not allow you to add negative keywords in smart shopping. So if there are terms you don’t want to appear for or you like the control of having this option – smart may not be the right campaign for you.
  3. Very limited choice of bidding strategies. You really only have 2 options and one is just a subset of the other
  4. Building on from this, you can’t set your desired cost per click. This can often feel like you’re just completely trusting Google. It also can mean very high cpc’s at the start.
  5. Reporting is limited and not very transparent. You won’t know how often you are appearing on the display network, youtube, gmail etc. So if you work in a business that needs detailed reporting. Smart won’t help there. This obviously also impacts attribution of where sales came from.
  6. Performance is mixed if you don’t have much conversion data. Given we are utilising machine learning, the more data the better. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try it. But rather it’s a logical conclusion we can draw based on how machine learning works.

Conclusion

Google Smart Shopping campaigns have come a long way in the last few years. While not always outperforming standard campaigns, they are a very powerful weapon for Ecommerce marketers. 

I love the fact that you can get an easy to manage campaign up and running in under a minute. The ongoing maintenance is minimal and the results can be fantastic.

If you haven’t tried Google Shopping Ads before in your ecommerce business, Smart Shopping is a great place to start.

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