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Nov. 13, 2020

Smart Shopping Campaigns – Is It Smart To Use During The Holidays?

Smart Shopping Campaigns – Is It Smart To Use During The Holidays?
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Are you currently running Google Smart Shopping campaigns?

In this episode, Andy looks at what you should know going into the holidays and some options to maximize your profits during the holiday shopping season in regarding to using Google Smart Shopping Campaigns.

Discover exactly why it is important to know how Google Ads work by listening to a story of one of Andy's past private client's experiences using a Google Smart Shopping campaign.


Andy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of the Make Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner of True Online Presence and the Founder of Make Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.

New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and


Andy Splichal  0:00  

All right and welcome to the Make Each Click Count podcast. This is your host, Andy Splichal. And today's topic is smart shopping campaigns. Is it smart to us during the holidays? Before we begin today's topic, I wanted to take a quick second to wish Happy Veterans Day to all veterans and family members of veterans who served with all the divided politics currently going on it has been very easy to forget the individual sacrifices that had been made throughout our country's history. Okay, now back to the show, so to speak. A few months ago, I was contacted by a former private client. When last we worked together, he had been running an E commerce health supplement business, and he had just sold his interest. Now, fast forward a couple of years, he was back at it with an all new e commerce health supplement business. He was confused and looking for help to figure out what was going on with his Google Ads account. He had submitted a fee to Google Merchant Center using a free Shopify app. He had a Shopify store, of course, and he had an agency set up a Google Shopping campaign. But he still was not receiving any traffic and he wanted to know what was going on. After reviewing his Google Merchant Center account and his Google Ads account, I quickly diagnose the issue. First, the free app linking the Shopify to Merchant Center is a major issue with any retailer wishing to customize their feed, and especially a company that retails health supplements whose products are well, let's just say on the fringe of Google policy. Have you ever heard the same, you get what you pay for? Well, there's a fee involved most ecommerce retailers would be better advised to use a third party data optimization company to format and have the ability to customize their data before sending their feed to Google Merchant Center. The cost of a data optimization company typically ranges anywhere from $10 a month to $100 hundreds of dollars a month. But what you get back in conversion rates based on the ability to optimize Google Shopping campaigns. If your product offerings have any volume at all, typically is going to far outweigh the cost, at least in my experience. Using a data optimization company gives you the ability to add custom labels, which is the lifeblood of proper segmentation with Google Shopping, as well as the ability to tweak titles and descriptions. So they don't necessarily appear exactly as they do on your webpage. For health vitamins. As as our example some ingredients are an absolute policy violation with Google and will cause disapprovals just by having the name of those ingredients listed on an advertised web page. However, some ingredients are not absolute, but will cause a disapproval if they were listed in the Data Feed submitted title or the description. Although they will not trigger a red flag by simply being listed on a landing page. And although health supplements, they are an extreme example, most retailers could benefit incrementally by being able to optimize their product titles in their data feed in terms of improving their CTR, their click through rate, and their relevancy for keywords. Using a data optimization company allows retail advertisers to quickly make those tweaks without having to change the title or the description on their actual web page. Now here's the bottom line. Using a free option to submit feeds, regardless of what ecommerce platform you're using, is generally a bad idea. In order to run a successful Google Shopping campaign, you need to first have a strategic plan with your data feed. This will give you the ability to segment your shopping campaigns and effectively be able to optimize bids based on history. One caveat on this is that if you use a supplemental feed, to manually add custom labels, then You can get away with using a free service. However, is it worth a few bucks a month it would cost you for a service to do this much easier and automatically for you. That's the question you will need to answer Google smart shopping campaigns.


The second issue this retailer was facing was using a Google smart shopping campaign to send his products with a bid strategy using maximize conversion. And Google promotes their smart shopping campaigns as a way for advertisers to simplify their campaign management while maximizing conversion values and expanding their reach. campaigns that use smart shopping setting are eligible to appear across Google Search Network, Display Network, YouTube and Gmail. However, you are leaving all the control as far as bidding and placement to Google's discretion. And addition, the maximize conversion strategy has Google attempting to only serve ads when ads have the best chance to convert, although it only can send when you have a minimum of 100 conversions and last 30 days. But that sounds all right. Correct. But how do Google smart campaigns really work? Google uses an advertiser's existing product feed as submitted to Google Merchant Center and combines eligible products with Google's matching machine learning to match ads across their list of network with user inquiries. The network and their networks include Google search, network Display Network, YouTube, and Gmail. A merchant determines their budget and their bid strategy. And Google automatically test ads for different combinations of products and keyword searches promising to deliver maximum results to retailers based on their allotted budget. Now, you notice they said test ads, right? Yes. And I realized that we shot in there, of course, are no real ads. It's just product image, name and price. However, smart shopping also works to create display ads as well for you. Isn't that nice? Now, a major issue with Google smart campaigns is that retailers have no knowledge of where their ads are appearing, or for what keywords or at what cost. For this retailer, his average cost per click was over $6. This was astronomical as his bids hovered around $1.10, a couple of years ago for basically the same product line. And we're converting well, now Google Now was showing the average cost per click needed to be around $6 to convert. The issue for not being able to view data on which keywords are appearing is a major drawback. For this particular advertiser, Google wasn't matching items and searches very well. Even for a search using an incognito browser for the exact product name of some of his products. His products weren't displayed on Google Shopping. Now remember, he had selected maximize conversion bid strategy. Well, to be frank, how much more relevant and likely to convert? Could a search be than actually searching for the product name? And with Google having control over bids using a Smart Campaign? It couldn't be a big issue. Wowza How does Google smart campaigns sound to you now? What did I recommend for him to do? The first thing I recommended for this advertiser was to make a change from using Shopify as a free app to submit his fees to a third party data optimization company. Currently using Shopify is a free Shopify app, this retailer had approximately 25% of their products being disapproved and merchant center, and this could be much lower by using the diagnostics link and merchant center. And using the ability of a third party data optimization company to adjust the title and descriptions, this merchant should be able to significantly reduce their disapprovals. Next, there are some options with how Google Ads account is set up. The first and easiest solution would be to change the bidding strategy goal. smart shopping campaigns are always set to maximize conversions by default. However, advertisers have the ability to change the bid strategy to ROI as return on adspend goal. By lowering change into that bid strategy and lowering the ROA s goal. The retailer potentially could gain more clicks. However, I would highly recommend that this merchant split out their campaign into multiple campaigns. It would make sense to split out the campaigns by brands, at least for the top selling brands to effectively split out the account into different campaigns. would require a plan when submitting the data feed to ensure that everything is properly formatted to allow for the segmentation. Once the account is divided into different brand oriented campaigns, the customer could test using smart shopping campaigns or make the switch to manual campaigns. By starting to manage and optimize in a standard campaign, retailers are able to access data on exactly which products are driving traffic converting spending, and for which keywords. This allows optimization on products as well as the ability to use advanced strategies, such as positive keyword strategy. For more information on this, you can see my latest book Make Each Click Count using Google Shopping, which describes the full details and layout for the strategy. So what do you do during the holidays if you are currently using Google smart shopping campaigns? No doubt we're getting late into the game Black Friday is two weeks from today. However, with an estimated 50% of holiday shopping being done online this year, the success of many businesses will rely on getting it right. If you are currently using Google smart shopping campaigns and you're doing well. Maybe you just want to leave it as is till after the holidays just know that most likely you probably would be doing better in terms of both sales and profitability by using a standard shopping campaign.


If you're using a Google smart shopping campaign, and you're not doing well, you need to work on splitting out at least your best selling products into standard shopping campaigns right now. Listen, you don't have to have all products eligible to serve in a Google smart shopping campaign. by subdividing your products you can determine just like in standard shopping campaigns, which products are eligible to appear inside which campaign. It's getting late. But there's still time connect with me through Make Each Click Count Facebook group and I'll be happy to get you pointed in the right direction. Final word, my former client in this story incredibly paid an agency to set up and manage his smart shopping campaign. Besides being ill advised the work to set up this campaign took five minutes max and they charge this advertiser not only a setup fee, but a few 100 bucks and ongoing monthly retainer. This fully demonstrates the importance of knowing how Google Ads work regardless of whether or not a retailer decides to manage their account in house or outsource to an SEM agency. Next, I am an advocate of testing. With so many types of ads available bidding strategies and even automated bidding strategies. What works best for one account may not work best for all accounts may not work best for your account, it is important to test. Earlier this year, Google started showing optimization on every campaign, which included a score between one and 100% as well as recommendations. The recommendations are a fantastic way to make sure every campaign has key conversion elements such as ad extensions for search ads, keyword targeting, the use of audience etc. However, the only way the optimization score for a shopping campaign ever will go to 100% is if a campaign uses Google's smart shopping Google's favorite automated bidding strategy. So Google optimization score is not to be taken as the final word for sure. Here's what I have found that in fact, most of the times using smart shopping campaigns is not the best option for advertisers. And if you are tempted to use the smart shopping campaign because of the ease of managing it, make sure you're aware of the downfalls of letting Google handle your bids and PLA ad placements and know you'll be flying blind with Google behind the wheel. Well, that's it for today. Remember, if you liked this episode, please go to Apple podcasts and leave a five star review. And if you're looking for more information on how to successfully optimize your Google Shopping, before or after, for that matter the holidays, pick up a copy of my newest book Make Each Click Count using Google Shopping available at or Amazon. In addition, if you have any questions for me, I'm always available within the private Make Each Click Count Facebook group. If you're selling products online, make sure you apply to join this free group as it is an invaluable resource. In the meantime, remember to stay safe, keep healthy and happy marketing and I will talk to you in the next episode.