13/12/21 Ben Owst

A Smart Move To Smart Shopping

There’s a lot of scepticism around anything labelled ‘Smart’ within Google Ads. We tend to find Google scrapes up the low hanging fruit for sales or enquires you were already likely to get and takes the credit with its Smart campaigns, so the skepticism is completely justified.

Smart Shopping campaigns are a relatively new addition to Google’s ever growing catalogue of deeper automated campaign options, bearing in mind that Smart Shopping will be rolled up into the brand new Performance Max campaign type in 2022 as well.

We’ve taken a good old test and learn approach with Smart Shopping, not to be dismissive of anything that could potentially level up our clients performance. As part of our diving in headfirst to test new initiatives culture we naturally wanted to explore what it could offer before dismissing it as an option.


Before we just throw ourselves into Google’s blackbox of automation there are elements to consider. The biggest of which is the trade of deeper automation for less control and visibility. With any Smart campaigns you are always going to be stripped back of the rich data you’re used to crunching with standard shopping campaigns.

Your ability to alter and optimise by device, ad schedule, location, audience and break out multiple ad groups is stripped away, you have to take a leap of faith and allow Google to take the reins on this one. Your search terms report will also be stripped from you and forget about adding negative keywords, so if you absolutely need this data for clients then factor that in before going for it with Smart Shopping.

Furthermore, Smart Shopping takes priority over all other campaigns, no matter what priority level your standard campaigns are set too. In a game of Top Trumps, Smart would destroy everything, this is crucial to note as any other campaigns containing the same products will stop spending as soon as you place one of these live.

You should also ensure you have really solid conversion data within the last 30-days, ideally 50 conversions through shopping campaigns in the account, you need to feed Google with as much conversion data as possible, timing is essential here so wait until you have a robust data set before hitting the go live too.

Lastly, remarketing is baked right into these campaigns, so again, if you have separate dynamic remarketing set up these will likely cease to spend as well, it gives powerful options for these campaigns though as lookalikes can then be automatically built inside Smart Shopping to pin-point high intent audiences through every asset available to Google, which is A LOT.

What We Tested And What We Learned

Factoring in all these considerations, one of our sports supplements clients fit the criteria perfectly to test a move to Smart Shopping.

Our standard shopping campaigns were broken out by brand per campaign to enable us to focus on the most profitable supplement brands, we could then pull and push budgets according to stock, business priorities and profitability.

It made sense then for us to mirror this brand segregation for Smart Shopping, we decided to use a popular supplement brand Optimum Nutrition. This shopping campaign had over 50 sales in the last 30-days. There’s a high likelihood of repeat purchase in this industry as well so remarketing audiences and customer loyalty are paramount to long-term growth, something we felt would work in our favour.

We set up the Smart Shopping, made sure we had a badass creative to compliment the campaign and this is what we found:

Standard Smart
Spent £471.66 £607.55
Clicks 683 1,215
Avg CPC £0.69 £0.50
Conv. Rate 7.47% 8.15%
Sales 51 99
Revenue £2,120.88 £4,850.03
Return On Ad Spend 4.5 7.98

Because of the broader reach that Smart Shopping has with YouTube, Discovery, Display & Gmail all falling under it’s reach we saw cost per clicks fall considerably lower than standard campaigns, because we had a ton of data around what audiences convert we also saw conversion rate leap up. The combination of the two enabled us to not only spend more, but drive a higher return on ad spend, win win!

This paved the way for us to roll out to other brands in the account where we saw similar results and transformed performance from hitting targets, to smashing them out of the water. This gave us the flexibility to increase spend, meaning more revenue with the same if not better level of profitability, Smart!

Ben Owst

Self-confessed PPC nerd with over 10-years of experiencing everything the digital marketing world has to offer.