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Smart Shopping

Smart Shopping campaigns are now widely used by agencies as a way of automating the optimisation of thousands of products for e-commerce clients. We’ve audited many accounts now with successful Smart Shopping campaigns, but there are some drawbacks too.

Let’s first look at the benefits of using Smart Shopping:

Reach – Smart Shopping uses The Cross Network, which taps in to multiple Google networks through a single campaign type; Google Search Network, the Google Display Network, YouTube and Gmail.

Machine Learning – Google’s system will pull images and text from the data feed and test combinations of the content to show the most relevant content on The Cross Network.

Max Conversion Value – One of the most effective Google Smart Bidding Strategies is only available for use on Smart Shopping campaigns. 

Automatic Optimisation – Google will optimise the right products to the right consumers at the right times, using buying signals that can’t be manually optimised.

Minimal Campaign Management – The resource requirement for setup and ongoing management is very limited.

Whilst the last point above is considered a benefit for many, it is also arguably the biggest drawback to using Smart Shopping campaigns. Minimal campaign management is required, but actually limited campaign management is possible.

Google remove almost all setting options for Smart Shopping campaigns. Here are some of the key options:

  • No Search Query Reporting 
  • No Negatives
  • No Device Adjustments
  • No Audience Insights

The general lack of reporting makes some historically effective optimisation methods very challenging. Most notably the lack of search query reporting. Search query analysis is important for shopping campaigns to understand what users are searching for so that the feed can be optimised to provide a better user experience and this is no longer possible.

Search query analysis also allows us to understand how generic search performs vs brand search, which could well be the reason why Google want to keep this information hidden.

Smart Shopping campaigns are very successful for popular products, so retailers best sellers will thrive through the use of Smart Shopping on The Cross Network, but it is important to use this in conjunction with standard shopping campaigns to achieve the best results. 

By excluding poorer performing products in Smart Shopping and running them in standard shopping campaigns, Google is able to maximise the value of the best sellers on The Cross Network and we are able to gain much more detailed insights in to poorer performing. The additional insights allows us to effectively optimise the feed and control the strategy more closely for under performers.

Google’s Smart Bidding and Machine Learning can yield great results for retailers online, but it is by no means flawless, so whilst Google may promote Smart Shopping campaigns as requiring limited resource, they still need to be very closely managed to extract the maximum value.