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Standard and smart shopping campaigns in Google Ads: what are the differences?

Digital Marketing

Who has never seen a shopping campaign at work?

Just open Google and go to the product search specifically enough to be presented with ads consisting of an image, a price. Price is the amount of money required for a product or service. In a broad sense, the price is the sum of all and the reference company.

One-click on one of these ads, and we land on the product page, ready – if not to buy – at least to take the first step towards adding to the cart.

Behind the scenes, thousands of shopping campaigns are at work to drive these ads. Today I’m talking about the small (but substantial) differences that you can find when creating a “standard” and a “smart” shopping campaign.

The Topic Of This Post

  • 1 Standard shopping
  • 2 Smart shopping
  • 3 Which Should You Choose?

Standard shopping

The “classic” shopping campaigns (let’s call them “standard” for 

convenience) is undoubtedly the best known and most used, if only for the pure and straightforward length of service. 

Their functioning was and is quite simple and, let’s understand, widely shared by their more intelligent “sisters.”

Do you have e-commerce? First of all, you register with Merchant Center and provide your product catalog. Then you go into Google Ads and create a shopping campaign.

At this point, the campaign will use your product listing to match the query. The query is usually used to indicate a user’s request using a search engine; whenever we look for something on an engine, more accurate users show them dynamic product ads in Google (and other placements).

By shopping campaigns and how they work, I wrote in detail in the past. I recommend you check out that article before proceeding.

How can you control a “standard” shopping campaign

I said that standard shopping campaigns were the first to be introduced in Google Ads and still offer some level of control for the advertiser today.

You can already notice this at the settings level, where we find the inventory filter. Through this option, it is possible to limit the delivery of the campaign on the part of the product list, acting directly at the highest level, precisely the campaign settings.

The bidding strategy then follows. There are three strategies, two automatic (ROASROAS (Return on Advertising Spend, “return on advertising investment”) is the revenue generated by an advertising campaign minus the cost of advertising. It’s a popular metric Target refers to a group of potential customers to whom a company wants to sell its products or services. The Target is consequently also and Maximize Clicks) a manual (Manual CPC).

It is an important aspect to underline: in a standard shopping campaign, we can choose to manage the offer through two strategies out of three that do not consider the return on investment.

That’s is ideal when we don’t have a history on the platform yet.

And what about the campaign priority?  Remember that when several standard shopping campaigns are present and active on the platform and – importantly – they share all or part of the same products in the list, we can define a different priority between them.

That will make it possible to use the budget.THE… and the offer of a campaign in a preferential way compared to all the others that share the product in the price list.

Through the choice of networks – we are always in the campaign settings – we can choose whether to include or exclude the delivery of ads on Google search partners, in YouTube, Gmail, and Google Discover.

Another fundamental aspect of standard search campaigns is the visibility of search terms. You can observe, as with any search campaign, which words are moving your ads. And act, accordingly, through the excluded keywords, limiting the delivery on terms that you consider too generic.

When I wrote a little higher than the level of control available to an advertiser on standard shopping campaigns, I was also referring to the possibility of manually adopting audience segments, thus making the activity in observation on a target or in remarketing more stringent.

Finally, the breakdown of products. You can divide the product list based on the data in your data feed in a shopping campaign. That’s is recommended, especially when you have identified a brand. A Brand is an identification symbol, trademark, logo, name, word, and phrase that companies use to distinguish their product from others.

All this applies to a traditional shopping campaign.

What changes instead when we choose to adopt the smart ones? 

Smart shopping

More recently introduced, smart shopping campaigns are a  shopping campaign subtype that encompasses the peculiarities of a shopping campaign and a remarketing display.

Hence, these campaigns, hence the very definition “smart” or “intelligent,” manage the offer and positioning in complete autonomy, clearly limiting the advertiser’s control to the advantage of the achievable result.

The requirements

A smart shopping campaign needs some requirements to work at its best. In particular:

  • Conversion tracking. Through the Google Ads tag or integration with Google Analytics, conversion tracking must be configured and functioning on the platform with an excellent history.
  • Remarketing audiences. The platform must have at least one audience segment active and ready for remarketing, with at most limited 100 active users in the last 30 days.

If these requirements are lacking, the campaign may not deliver the budget or have great difficulty optimizing performance.

How can you control a “smart” shopping campaign

The differences between a “standard” and a “smart” shopping campaign can be seen first of all at the level of settings. Because, well, it lacks pretty much everything we’ve been used to managing with standard shopping campaigns.

At the level of settings, we do not find the inventory filter, so no more possibility to limit the delivery of the campaign on specific groups of products at the highest level.

Another change can be seen in the bid strategies. For a smart shopping campaign,  only the “Maximize value conversion. In web marketing, conversion means when a user takes a specific – measurable – action that is important to your business.

 Examples are access to the site, the visit of …”, With a possible additional sub-setting for the definition of a target ROAS.

As we said, the smart approach of these campaigns is aimed solely at the return on revenue, with all due respect to strategies such as Maximize Clicks or Manual CPC, which are not available.

No,  no campaign priorities. A smart campaign overrides other standard shopping campaigns and display network remarketing campaigns for the same products.

A simple reflection arises from this: activating an intelligent low-budget shopping campaign in a campaign architecture that already includes a robust budget component in display remarketing may not have the desired effect.

And, for the same reason as above,  no choice of destination networks. The campaign takes care of it, as you can imagine.

Again,  no visibility on search terms. And as a result,  no possibility to indicate negative keywords.

What about audiences? A peculiarity that is not immediately understood is that you cannot actively manage the audience segments in a smart shopping campaign. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t used.

These campaigns automatically use the audience lists you are managing in Google Ads. Indexes do not have to be added to the campaign by hand but are present (open and active) on the platform.

Unlike traditional campaigns, and Insurance single ads can be created for an intelligent shopping campaign, which shares much of what we already find available for responsive display ads.

The idea is simple: upload assets  (texts, images, videos) and leave the platform with the thankless task of understanding what to show, in what context, and to whom to generate a sale. In detail:

  • A logo is a symbol consisting of text and images that identify a company. A good logo shows what a company does and what it stands for (preferably to be managed in Merchant Center)
  • a marketing image (1.91: 1 ratio)
  • a short title (25 characters maximum)
  • a long title (90 characters maximum)
  • a description (maximum 90 characters)
  • a URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. Colloquially called a web address, it refers to a web resource such as a site, page, or files the final.

Remember that short or long titles can also be shown without the description and that the report can be abbreviated with an ellipsis based on the format in which it is delivered.

Finally, the ability to divide products does not change in a smart shopping campaign. Even if, to be honest, the best effectiveness of this type of campaign is when you provide it with the entire price list on which to operate.

Which one should you choose?

At this point, perhaps you will imagine an answer of the type “both.” Or: “neither.” But no.

What makes intelligent shopping campaigns interesting, their level of automation and predictive ability towards the best target also makes them unsuitable to be the only campaign ever created in Google Ads before.

Instead, suppose you do not have an actual history. In that case, the advice is to start from a standard shopping campaign, ideally through a manual bidding strategy – manual CPC, to generate, optimization after optimization, a sustained number of conversions per day for at least 30-45 days.

This period will allow us to evaluate the effectiveness of the price list, the parameters provided to the data feed, the prices compared to the competition. They taught the platform who our customers are and how they move.

Only then will it make sense to introduce, even in a complete form, an intelligent shopping campaign that will use this precious information to take the helm and guide the delivery of shopping ads in Google and in remarketing on the display network in full (or almost) autonomy.

We will still be able to control the breakdown of products and ROAS objectives, but the idea is that at this point, we will rely – always keeping an eye on the data – on everything that the platform can offer in terms of new and more. Effective machine learning.

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