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Smart Google shopping campaigns – what it is and how it works?

Smart Shopping Campaigns – another “Smart” solution from Google

It seems that the „smart” campaign family starts to grow. No wonder that Google decides to adopt such solutions. Smart Google campaigns let inexperienced users conduct effective advertising campaigns on their own. Smart shopping campaign is another “smart”-type solution. It provides you with an opportunity to increase the value of conversion and expand the range of your campaign. Combining the shopping campaign and relying on remarketing lists, it automatically posts advertisements on websites and adjusts rates for clicks. 

How does it work? 

New types of Google campaigns are based on „machine learning” which is responsible for creating and enforcing “smart” decisions – for more information see here. To make sure these systems are successful,  they need time to learn and data to improve. The more the data, the more effective and profitable the campaign. Basic issues in this area help you better understand new kinds of Google campaigns. Smart shopping campaigns rely on self-learning algorithms and use data from your product file and from your Google Ads account (previous shopping campaigns and remarketing lists). In the trial period, various combinations of texts and photos are checked and showed in the Google search network, in the Google Display Network, on YouTube and Gmail. 

How to start? 

Smart shopping campaigns are a subtype of a standard shopping campaign so you need to have a Google Merchant Center account with an active product file. Another important issue is the fact that you cannot start your campaign from a „smart” campaign. At first you are obligated to obtain at least 20 conversions in the last 45 days in the shopping campaign. There are a few other issues you have to check before you initiate the campaign, most of these points have already been configured if you conducted any shopping campaigns before:

  • Properly configured conversions so that conversions are counted along with purchase value (it is advisable to take transactions from Google Analytics provided that e-commerce module has been configured properly)
  • Add a global website tag – if you have used dynamic remarketing before, such tag is surely available on the website
  • Remarketing list (associated with the account) which contains at least 100 users  

What kind of advertisements are displayed and where? 

Smart shopping campaigns embrace product adverts and display adverts, which allows displaying advertisements under one campaign in the Google search network, in Google Display Network, on YouTube and Gmail. Advertisements are created automatically and the appropriate format is selected to suit the ad space. The advertising message is created on the basis of the keywords searched, users’ intention as well as previous interactions with the website. Additionally, the rates are chosen with a view to maximizing the value of conversions. Sounds good?

What else you should know before starting the campaign

1. Budget 

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Estimate your previous expenses for shopping campaigns and remarketing campaigns, and set the daily budget. If you don’t want to test a new type of campaigns on all products, you can choose one brand or category and set a smart shopping campaign for them, and a standard campaign for others. You have to remember, however, that a smart shopping campaign has a higher priority than ordinary shopping and remarketing campaigns. 


Smart shopping campaigns adopt a strategy of setting rates by target ROAS (return on advertising spend). For instance, if you wish to earn PLN 50 per PLN 10 of expenditure, your ROAS must be 500%. Here you should be careful too and estimate your ROAS on the basis of previous results. If you earned PLN 300 a day for PLN 50 -of expenditure in your previous campaigns, your ROAS cannot be 1000% because the daily budget will not be spent and you will not get the satisfying number of conversions. You may not set a target RAOS but I have personally tested this solution and I cannot recommend it. It is advisable just to set a lower value. 

3. Non-standard parameters 

They are responsible for collecting data on products which your website users are interested to buy. The same rule applies to dynamic remarketing. In theory you can start with a “smart” campaign without these parameters but you would not use its full potential.

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4. Trial period 

Since smart shopping campaigns rely on self-learning algorithms, all you need is time and a suitable amount of data. It will certainly be better for accounts, which  have already recorded effective shopping and remarketing campaigns before. In addition, you need to let the system learn for 2-3 weeks before you decide whether the strategy is effective or not. After a week you should not change the target ROAS just because the number of conversions dropped. It is necessary to note that the system optimizes the campaign in terms of value of transactions, rather than their quantity. Also changes in external factors influence the success of the campaign so it is reasonable to test the campaign out of high traffic periods – e.g. Christmas or Easter.

5. Campaign priority 

The last important issue is the campaign priority. The best practice is to suspend products in the standard shopping campaign if you wish to display them in the smart campaign. If you do not adhere to this guideline, you prevent algorithms from learning.

I think that every advertiser who looks for new solutions and new technologies should test campaigns of this sort. I will share my experiences in another article related to implementation of smart shopping campaigns and present you with test results. Stay tuned!

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In the meantime – if you are interested in Google tools which may prove to be helpful in your business – feel free to check our free guidebook on top Google tools for the company!

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Author of the article

It’s been 8 years since Maciej took his first steps in the world of marketing - especially the one related to content. So far, he has worked for politicians and the b2b and b2c industries. A fan of content marketing in the digital strategy and its influence on customer navigation and brand reputation. He is also interested in the issue of Corporate Social Responsibility and sees this topic as a springboard for the communication development of many businesses. Responsible for marketing in Verseo. In his free time Maciej reads reports from the world and scientific + sci-fi literature. :)