Do you run Shopping Ads for clients and been wondering lately about whether you should use Smart Shopping campaigns? Here is something to consider. Please note, this was based on a Twitter thread I wrote, so will not be my typical thousands of words post 😉 It is my attempt to jot down a few things to consider as you test Smart Shopping Campaigns.
One of the lesser known core downfalls (there are a few others) of Smart Shopping is the lack of transparency as it relates to brand positioning.
In other words, where are your ads showing and how does that represent your brand?
For the advertisers who care about where their ads are shown, you may want to exercise caution with Smart Shopping campaigns. Currently, you are unable to choose *OR EVEN SEE* where on Youtube your PLAs are showing, or what keywords they are showing for, or which GDN placements they appearing on isn’t always worth “hitting the ROAS target” for a brand if it can negatively impact overall brand awareness and positioning.
Does it always negatively impact positioning? Surely not, but it’s certainly a part of the conversation that needs to take place. Unfortunately Google removed our ability to have that conversation when they removed our ability to make any adjustments around ad placements in Smart Shopping.
Just so I’m clear here, it’s not just that you can’t add negative keywords, or select/remove Channels right now in Smart Shopping (you can’t do either of those).
You 👏 can’t 👏 even 👏 see 👏 where 👏 your 👏ads 👏are 👏showing.
Is automation evil? Absolutely not, when used well. We are testing Automation in terms of TROAS, ad testing, as well as limited tests on Smart Shopping campaigns and seeing varying levels of success across all tests. Automation that removes the manual, repeated labor of spreadsheets should be a welcome sigh of relief for the great PPCer as it will free up time for them to invest their work into strategy, troubleshooting, and reporting.
That being said, I would argue that Smart Shopping goes too far to the other extreme. It is too Black Box in its optimization capabilities as well as reporting limitations. It shouldn’t be completely free of any management or reporting capabilities across all channels, devices, audiences, and every other possible adjustment. How much of your Smart Shopping campaign ROAS is simply coming from an increase in Remarketing audiences (another concern I have after looking at the data in our accounts)? You simply don’t know, because they simply won’t tell you.
There are still things in marketing, even PPC marketing, that an algorithm can’t compute (I.e., brand positioning on various placements or videos) and truly beneficial PPC automation must carry some level of both.
Here then, is the reason I’m saying all of this. You may not care on which Youtube Videos your PLAs show on as long as you care about ROAS (and by the way, ROAS success differs dramatically in our tests… so even then it’s not a given), but if you do care… then walk into Smart Shopping with eyes wide open: you can’t limit it in any way.