In the first segment of this series (What is Smart Shopping?), we focused on what Google Smart Shopping is, and in the second segment we discussed key tactics (Establish Your Smart Shopping Strategy). In this post, we will answer the question of whether someone should follow Google’s advice and switch their entire Shopping program over to Smart Shopping.
This is a shorter, but essential next post in the series on Smart Shopping. This post actually came about specifically as I responded to yet another Google rep contacting a client and telling them they should consider switching totally from Standard Shopping Ads to Smart Shopping. Here is a variation of my answer, made more general for a broader audience. Hopefully this gives you assistance as you consider the best way forward in your accounts.
Should You Run Only Google Smart Shopping Campaigns in Your Account?
In short: No.
I would argue that Switching solely to Smart Shopping is not advisable for the following 4 reasons:
As we’ve noted previously, Smart Shopping doesn’t include any data so your Shopping account will have no insight into Shopping data. No audience data, no search term data, no channel data, etc. Smart Shopping really is a “black box” nd as someone who’s dealt with it when it goes bad, is is very frustrating because not even Google can help troubleshoot. There’s literally nothing to troubleshoot.
#2 QUERY CONTROL
When you switch solely to Smart Shopping campaigns, you will no longer be able to control targeting and impression share (with bidding/budget) for key search terms like brand terms or high value search terms. Since you control key terms like brand or high value terms for other things than strictly tracked ROAS, you are weighting the value of these terms beyond what Google is able to track. Since they are focused primarily on hitting ROAS targets across multiple channels, your Shopping Ads budget will shift from these key terms and into other channels and terms.
#3 UNTRACKABLE SALES
Smart Shopping alone can actually be problematic for ROAS targeting reasons, even though the whole point of the campaign type is to target ROAS.
Here’s why: the machine works best when it has data, and yet you may have times where a decent amount of your sales actually happen outside of the realm of tracked data (phone calls, cross-device, etc). With Standard Shopping Ads, you can invest specifically in a specific Shopping Ads tactic fitting into your overall marketing strategy (dominating certain key funnel terms, brand terms, etc), and you can stick to that tactic knowing sales are coming through off-line, regardless of what tracked ROAS is doing. Smart Shopping is fully dependent on tracked ROAS being a machine and doesn’t play nicely with untracked sales.
Smart Shopping uses your largest 3 remarketing audiences along with their other targets. Then based on the account performance and other various signals, determines how much spend they want to push towards remarketing. It’s important to note that because you don’t have any insight into data, you actually can’t tell how much of your Smart Shopping spend is in remarketing and how much isn’t.
What you can do, is test Standard to Smart Shopping in a controlled environment (a single brand or product type), and monitor % of New Sessions in your Google Analytics account. We have done this and found in every instance that the %of New Sessions jumped when we switched to Smart Shopping, once it jumped as high as 57%. In this way, you’re seeing remarketing being used far more in these campaigns than in your Standard Shopping which could be decreasing your ability to target early stage shoppers. Since remarketing tends to do well with ROAS you can imagine where this goes…a good chunk of your spend can begin to shift from prospecting and towards remarketing.
What To Do Instead
Previously, we discussed using Smart Shopping in conjunction with Standard Shopping campaigns so you get the best of both worlds…
- Smart Shopping – You get affordable outreach with the Google’s ability to affordably target people across multiple channels who are more interested (I do have increasing trust in their fully automated audience targeting capabilities). Use your Top Products as one example of what to target with Smart Shopping campaigns.
- Standard Shopping – You still retain your account data and stability, the primary Shopping campaigns are set in stone targeting the core terms you want to target and you get the benefit of the compiled data as well to inform your other marketing channels, and assist troubleshooting issues.
These tactics are discussed more fully in our previous post: Establish Your Strategy – Part 2: The ZATO Guide to Google Smart Shopping Campaigns