When to use Google Smart Shopping Campaigns

Every eCommerce store wants to generate the best return on ad spend from their Shopping campaigns. The intention of Google […]

February 15, 2021

Every eCommerce store wants to generate the best return on ad spend from their Shopping campaigns. The intention of Google Smart Shopping is to help you improve your return on ad spend while saving time on the day-to-day management.

If you don’t want to pay an Agency or an in-house employee to manage your shopping campaigns on a day-to-day basis or are limited by time, you should consider Google Smart Shopping Campaign for your eCommerce store.

If you haven’t heard of Smart Shopping, the reason could be that your agency or in-house staffers could be concerned you don’t need their services based on the overall automation.

I’m sure you’re thinking Smart Shopping sounds too good to be true. It doesn’t always outperform standard shopping and you have to be very cautious when setting-up the campaign. There is still PPC management that should be done within Smart Shopping as well, which we’ll dive into. 

What are Smart Shopping Campaigns? 

In May of 2018, Google introduced the concept of Smart Shopping Campaigns [source]. This machine learning shopping campaign that reduces management hours and optimizes for conversions rolled out shortly thereafter [source].

Below are other bulleted items to help you understand Google Smart Shopping:

  • You can make your campaign management easier, maximize conversion value and expand reach with Smart Shopping [Google]. 
  • Smart Shopping combines standard shopping along with display retargeting and leverages automated bidding [Google]
  • Your existing product feed gets integrated into Google’s machine learning [Google
  • The ramp-up period for optimization could take up-to 15-days [Wordstream]
    • Be patient, the data and return on ad spend at the beginning won’t be pretty 
  • You’ll want to have eCommerce conversion tracking properly set-up 
  • Smart Shopping will pull from your product title and description so having this optimized is very important 

What You Need to Be Careful of with Smart Shopping Campaigns: 

If you launch a Google Smart Shopping Campaign, it will trump your other shopping campaigns, meaning Google will prioritize the Smart Shopping Campaign.  We often see businesses wanting to A vs. B test standard shopping versus Smart Shopping not realizing launching Smart Shopping can deteriorate performance of their primary standard shopping campaign. 

According to Wordstream, Google recommends advertisers target all available products in one campaign for Smart Shopping.

I would disagree with the notion of creating one centralized campaign for Smart Shopping. If you are starting a campaign from scratch, one campaign structure for Smart Shopping is a good practice. If you already have a Standard Shopping campaign with above a 2:1 ROAS, I would find underperforming products within your campaign or products that don’t receive a lot of volume and use these products for Smart Shopping. 

Below is an example for DermWarehouse, our in-house eCommerce brand [learn more about our eCommerce marketing services]. You can see we took some brands that were either underperforming or not receiving enough exposure in our other shopping campaigns and created a Smart Shopping campaign specifically for these brands. 

It’s important to note that in Smart Shopping, you lose the capability to do the following: 

  • Monitor search terms 
    • You can’t scour through all of the search terms and add negative keywords
  • Adjust the bids of any specific products 
    • You cannot adjust the bids on an underperforming or above average performing product.

How exactly do you optimize Google Smart Shopping Campaigns? 

There’s the notion that Google Smart Shopping campaigns can be set-up instantaneously and it’s a set it and forget it mentality. This isn’t the case. Below are ways you should be optimizing Smart Shopping Campaigns.

  • If you go into product groups, you can pause product groups as a whole or individual products. 
    • For DermWarehouse, after looking at one day of data, you can see the Elta MD only had a 1.29 Return on Ad Spend whereas SkinMedica had a 2.86 ROAS. If the trend continues, you can pause Elta MD all together or you can add a subdivision so you can see the performance of each individual product. 


For Google Smart Shopping campaigns, you can also adjust the bid schedule based on the time of the day you want the advertisements to be served. You can also adjust the mobile bid adjustment. 

If you have a set it and forget it mentality with Google Smart Shopping campaigns, this likely won’t lead to the best results. There’s a lot of product group and pricing segmentation that should come from this. 

For DermWarehouse, while we segmented product groups per brand, you can do this by price point, product type and much more. 

Other Interesting Nuggets About Google Smart Shopping

When our agency spoke with someone at Google on the Accelerated Growth Team, who focuses helping eCommerce clients scale and they promote Smart Shopping to accomplish this, one of the interesting things I learned was that when you launch a Smart Shopping campaign, it’s not like you’re starting from scratch. It takes all of the historical data from your account into consideration. 

For example, if SkinMedica had a 2:1 ROAS in a standard shopping campaign and you’re trying to beat this with Smart Shopping, Smart Shopping will know what you were achieving with your ROAS and try to outperform this. 

The Accelerated Growth Team also recommended bidding for maximized conversion value and not setting a target return on ad spend (ROAS). This makes sense considering what I just mentioned in that Google Smart Shopping is smart enough to pick-up on your past conversion data. 

In Closing

If your Google Standard Shopping is performing well, do not create a campaign for all of your products on Smart Shopping. It will cannibalize your existing campaign and you might not outperform all the optimization you put into Smart Shopping.

If you are struggling on Google Shopping with your entire campaign or certain products, Smart Shopping is a great route. Additionally, if you are starting from scratch and don’t have the time to manage your campaign, Smart Shopping is also a solid option.