Google released their Smart Shopping campaigns in 2018 and the campaign type has been gaining prominence since. But how much should you rely on Google to optimise your campaign? Should only retailers or brands use this, or will they work for anyone? Today we chat with Gabrielle from Vine Street Digital on how to properly leverage Smart Shopping campaigns to automate your Google Ads.
To start, do you mind telling us a little bit about your background and what brought you to PPC?
Sure. Honestly I didn’t directly plan to be in PPC but ended up here after having studied business and working in digital agencies for the past 5 years. I’ve held a variety of PPC roles since then and absolutely love how it is very analytical and measurable.
Great. So diving into Google Smart Shopping campaigns, who should be using this campaign type?
In my PPC work, I’ve found success with the Smart Shopping campaigns for a variety of clients, like outdoor equipment, sports goods and even apparel.
In my experience, it doesn’t really matter whether the client is a brand versus a retailer. The results are often similar.
Why should people work with Smart Shopping campaigns?
When I first started in PPC, automated bidding strategies were not that useful or effective. There was a big focus on manual bidding strategies, but that took a lot of time.
Now the automated bidding strategies are getting more powerful and you really can’t ignore them anymore. I have a sneaking suspicion that Google will eventually phase out manual CPC bidding, so you will need to start adapting to Google’s automated offerings soon to keep on-top and ahead of the competition.
The major benefit of doing this is also that you can save time and be more efficient with your campaign management and overall marketing strategy.
So how do you implement an automated Google Ads strategy?
There is some debate around whether you should start with manual bidding campaigns or smart shopping campaigns first. My professional preference is to start with smart shopping campaigns first.
You can group all your products and categories into one campaign and see how it performs.
Once you have the data, you can begin the next step which is to tease out what products and categories aren’t performing.
With those campaigns, you can then set up your manual CPC campaigns, and as many as you can handle, to manage those products and categories directly for better performance.
When should you not use automation?
Broadly speaking, you will want to avoid using Smart Shopping campaigns and automated bid strategies when you want more control.
Smart Shopping campaigns don’t show all the information, such as what keywords, your campaigns are bidding on. So if, say, you are a big brand with large amounts of brand-term search volume you may want to avoid this. Automated campaigns will likely bid on these terms (and win), but you may want to scale back that part of your campaigns as those sales would be caught by organic search anyway.
Another example is where the product or category isn’t performing well with automated strategies. You will want to control more of the bids and keywords yourself.
This isn’t to say that manual and regular CPC campaigns will perform better than Smart Shopping ones. We’ve had the experience of seeing a campaign improve from 500–900% on ROAS based purely upon changing the campaign to a Smart Shopping one.
Are there any recommended tools for making the most of Google Ads automation?
I don’t use any specifically, just the regular Google Ads platform. Google Analytics is always a great source of data on how your ads are performing as well as the results across different channels.
What metrics should people be following closely?
The key metrics are your Return On Ad Spend (ROAS), Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) and your search impression share with your current budget.
Knowing your search impression share lets you know whether you can actually scale up a campaign that is working by increasing your budget.