Google Smart Shopping: The Campaign Type Nobody Understands (but us)
To understand Smart Shopping, you first need to understand Google Shopping so that the differences between the two campaign types. Google Shopping appears alongside Google Search results for whatever your customer is searching for, whereas you have keywords for Search, Shopping is based on your product titles. Your listing in shopping along with your feed will massively impact your performance, so it’s best to start here.
Anatomy of the shopping carousel ad:
Shown above are the product listings that I was shown when searching for “red nike trainers” a basic middle to low funnel search. I’ve expressed interest in a brand, colour and style, but I’m yet to decide on the exact shoe I’m after. At this point in the funnel, it would be all about capturing your customer based on a pain point or providing them with a deal they can’t turn down.
Shown by the purple arrow, the Nike Official listings are both currently on sale as of writing this blog. This will be likely to gain the attention of a potential customer as not only is it the first listing, directly from the brand they were searching for, but let’s be honest, everyone loves a bargain. With that in mind, we can also see that even without a sale, Nike is providing the cheapest shoes shown without further investigation.
Nike have already provided a great offering with their sale, but that isn’t the beginning and end of product listings on Google Shopping. All of the product titles (shown by the red arrow) begin with Nike which would be expected from this search, though these can be optimised using one of the many Shopping Feed Optimisation tools on the market. We’ll come back to this later.
Moving to the blue arrow, something less considered when actually optimising Google Shopping Listings is price, often considered by others to be a variable you can’t control due to “not being in control of what you appear for”, this can be resolved by setting priorities in Shopping Campaigns. Segment your shopping listings by price and set priorities (see below) in order to get the same effect as Nike has in the example above.
The Green Arrow is simple, this shows your customer who they would be buying from as well as who is presenting the ad, this can also cause an uplift in brand search due to the influx of traffic. It’s important to have a strong brand campaign behind this to cover for the higher traffic volume. When paired with the yellow arrow, review, this can create brand authority as well as customer trust, making their click more likely to go to you.
The final arrow isn’t something anyone outside of the ads space considers, this is known as the CSS or Comparison Shopping Site, something Google had a monopoly on until recently. After a scandal that led to Google having to change its practices, having your ads on an alternate CSS can see you be refunded 20% of your Google Shopping Ad Spend.
When compared to the ad highlighted in red, it’s easy to make the distinction between the effect of putting in the time and effort to improve your feed VS leaving it to do its own thing. I can’t see the highlighted ad winning my click with a low feeling of authority and a higher price.
Your Google Shopping Feed:
Now that we understand the components of a Google Shopping Ad, how can we manipulate this to our advantage? Good question, you can start by going back to that term from earlier, Shopping Feed Optimisation. These are online tools or software platforms that allow you to make direct edits to items in your feed through your Google Merchant Centre.
As you can see above, there are many more components to a single product that you can utilise, though of course not all of these fields are relevant to every product, they do apply to the filters in the Google Shopping Tab. (Need a hand understanding this, or maybe you want ro enhance your Ecommerce in general? Give us a call.)
But more generally, your feed is what provides your Google Merchant Centre as well as Google themselves with information about your product, deciding where it serves and what it serves for. For more information on this please see our page Shopping Feed Optimisation.
Now, On to Smart Shopping:
Alright, Alright. I get it. No more of the basic stuff, give us what we came here for. My Pleasure. Smart Shopping takes everything you just learned about Google Shopping, turns it up to 11 and takes out the unnecessary manual actions that it can take care of on its own like stripping down a track car.
Firstly, other than the bare essentials like location, Google’s own Machine Learning is going to be taking care of the targeting from now on. Never to fear, Google has access to billions of data points that mere mortals like us can’t even see. It uses these points to fuel its own targeting based on how it understands search intent and conversion probability.
Above are the three tenets of Smart Shopping, making life easier for the user, increasing performance and expanding reach. Personally we have seen 500% increases in ROI on some larger accounts using Smart Shopping, proving this concept. The best part? It’s even easier to set up than regular shopping. The catch? It needs to be monitored and controlled with more care.
While you can probably tell that advertising across the Search & Display networks with smart shopping ads that retarget customers likely to convert and using that data to find similar customers to drive fresh action is a great idea, it doesn’t come without its drawbacks. You need to be able to front a bit of cash while the campaign is still learning, I’ve seen this period last a few days and I’ve seen it take a month, it really depends on the volume of conversions that you’re driving.
This can, of course, make it harder for smaller businesses to use, and I’d personally recommend they avoid it until they reach the kind of growth that allows them to dedicate some ad spend to testing. Though of course, manual shopping is still an option for these businesses, which can still be applied to great effect.
However, this doesn’t mean that small businesses simply can’t use smart shopping, it means that it may be harder to see the kind of exceptional results. I’d recommend small businesses with new or recently created Google Ads accounts to collect conversion data in their own account for a time before making the move. Your conversion data is one of the driving factors of Smart Shopping, waiting a few months in the short term to collate data will see a better result in the long run, with less need for testing spend.
Personally, I’m of the belief that either now or later, everyone should use smart shopping as an enhancement to their ecommerce strategy with Google Ads. But, I think it should never act as the core of your strategy, no single campaign or subtype should be the sole method you use to get your name out there on Google.