If I’ve taught you anything, I hope it’s to be suspicious of Google automation, and especially suspicious if Google makes it the default setting, and super suspicious when they start calling you up telling you to switch over to an automated setting!

Google Smart Shopping is an excellent example.

Here are a few key things you need to know that will help you make the right choice, or convince your clients that Google isn’t working in their best interests with this feature:

  • Smart Shopping automatically retargets! So if you’re like me and usually segment out retargeting audiences into their own campaigns you’ll quickly see you’re not comparing apples with apples in a Smart Campaign. It can quickly look like the Smart Campaign is getting lots of sales, but are they more than just brand? Also Google have openly said that Smart Campaigns prioritise and take over from normal Shopping campaigns so I’m sure the first place they start is with your retargeting.
  • Your ads are showing on the content network and you wont be able to tell where. Sure you’ll get lots of clicks, but are they from fat clumsy fingers or actual potential customers?
  • You can’t control bids for products you make higher or lower margins on, you can only exclude products. You can’t set bids at all, so Google is working towards sales, but not necessarily for sales of the product you want to push. I have tried grouping products together into their own Smart Campaigns (Google advised me not to of course), and saw slightly better results, but the learning phase was very long, so getting too granular would probably not work. 
  • No transparency! The lack of data that Google Shopping Smart campaigns show is concerning, definitely rings some alarm bells. I’d love to see where my ads are showing. And of course remember to keep an eye on your Google Analytics stats, have a close look at what the bounce rate, time on site and pages per session are in comparison to how traditional Shopping campaigns were performing BEFORE you tried Smart campaigns.

Of course these things change and improve, so I’ll retest from time to time. Google AI is going to continue to improve and the massive amount of data it has will someday make automation a no brainer. That time just hasn’t arrived yet.

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