Smart shopping campaigns on Google Ads – This is what it brings you!

17 min

You want to sell products via Google Shopping, but don’t really know how to set up campaigns and which settings you should make there? We have the perfect guide for you and show you how to optimize your Shopping Ads and simplify campaign management with the help of Google Smart Shopping!

What are Google Smart Shopping campaigns?
How do Smart Shopping campaigns work?
Basics 1×1 – What you need for a smart shopping campaign
For whom and which goals are Google Smart Shopping campaigns suitable?
How good or bad are Google Smart Shopping campaigns?
How do you create a Smart Shopping campaign?
How can Smart Shopping campaigns be optimized?
Conclusion: Are Google Ads and Smart Shopping campaign suitable for you?

What are Google Smart Shopping campaigns?

The whole world is smart – smart technology as well as its users – so why not rely on Smart Shopping campaigns on Google? But what does “smart” even mean? Machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI) are common terms in this context. The idea is to make an object capable of learning. To achieve this, learning algorithms are needed that generate knowledge by drawing it from already existing data and information. What sounds very abstract can now be easily implemented. Against this background, Google Shopping campaigns can also be implemented smartly since 2018. AI uses “experience values”, such as user signals, and takes these into account for future Google Ads. As a result, the ads become better and better over time and thus simplify your campaign management.

How do smart shopping campaigns work?

Google Smart Shopping campaigns are, so to speak, the further development of a classic shopping campaign or display campaign. Smart Shopping campaigns are a subcategory of classic shopping campaigns. The clever thing is that they combine shopping and remarketing campaigns of the display network. So while you used to need both types of campaigns because they pursue two separate goals, a smart shopping campaign combines both in one. Now you can do it all with a single campaign – the Smart Shopping campaign. It includes the following:

Smart Shopping campaigns use existing product feeds and the assets you’ve entered. Machine learning makes it possible to create ads that are displayed on the individual advertising networks. Google’s algorithm finds out which ad combinations are best received among users by testing various combinations. The algorithm not only optimizes the composition of text and images in the individual ads, but also the ad placement and bids. This way, a maximum conversion value can be achieved – according to your budget, of course. In total, you can create up to 100 active or paused Smart Shopping campaigns in your Ads account.

Basics 1×1 – What you need for a smart shopping campaign

To start a Smart Shopping campaign, you need several prerequisites that Google relies on. These include:

For whom and which goals are Google Smart Shopping campaigns suitable?

The last section already gave you a little insight into who smart shopping campaigns are intended for. The whole thing fits perfectly if you are an online store owner and have already gained some experience with Google Shopping. Both are important prerequisites. Especially the latter is fundamental if you want to make your campaigns “smart”, since the artificial intelligence needs information on the basis of which it can learn. A certain amount of experience is therefore indispensable. The more data that is already available, the better the AI can interpret it and conclude optimizations from it.

The goal of these measures is primarily to make your campaigns more efficient. Smart Shopping campaigns allow you to reduce your administrative overhead very easily. But beware: Smart Shopping campaigns are not suitable for everything!

You should not use smart shopping campaigns here!

It is not always possible to create remarketing lists, for example for products that require a certain age rating (e.g. over 18 products, wine, beer, etc.). In such cases, you can’t get the full potential out of your Smart Shopping campaign. A remarketing list is not mandatory, but still very helpful. You also need a certain number of conversions from which Google can draw conclusions and learn. Here, it is definitely worthwhile to start with a normal shopping campaign to generate a certain base of data with which the algorithm can work. Once you have collected this data, there is nothing standing in the way of switching to a smart campaign!

How good or bad are Google Ads Smart Shopping campaigns?

Smart Shopping campaigns do bring some advantages, but you should also be aware of the disadvantages!

- Easier & faster campaign launch
- Reduced & cost-saving administrative effort
- Bidding strategy aligned with target ROAS & revenue maximization
- Continuous analysis by algorithm
- Potential reach maximization
- Potential increase in conversion value  Disadvantages:
- Limitation of editing function (e.g., exclusion of search terms or bid adjustments)
- Increased competition
- Lack of transparency in evaluations
Advantages and disadvantages of Smart Shopping campaigns

How do you create a Smart Shopping campaign?

In itself, it is relatively easy to create a smart shopping campaign. The first step is to log into your Google Ads account. About the Tab “Campaigns” you come to your campaign overview. Here you can use the plus sign to create a “New Campaign”.

In the tab Campaigns you can set up new campaigns via the plus sign, source: Google Ads
In the Campaigns tab, you can set up new campaigns using the plus sign, source: Google Ads

After that, a window opens where you can choose which goal you want to pursue with your campaign. For a shopping campaign, “sales” is the right goal. Then you select the campaign type “Shopping”.

Create a Shopping Campaign – Here’s how!

Since your Google Ads account is already linked to the Merchant Center, the next step is to select the product feed that you want the campaign to access. You also define the appropriate country of sale. Once you have done this, you will be presented with two campaign subtypes to choose from. Now you decide whether you want to run a Smart or Standard Shopping campaign.

Campaign subtype selection – Smart or Standard Shopping campaign?

Once you have chosen a campaign subtype, it cannot be changed later!

After you have decided on a Smart Shopping campaign, there are some campaign settings that you need to make. However, since you are going the “smart” way with this campaign subtype, there are significantly fewer settings mandatory than with a Standard Shopping Campaign. You have to set the following:

Excursus: These are the ad types of smart shopping campaigns

Smart Shopping campaigns have three different ad types, all of which can be delivered on the Google Search Network, Display Network, YouTube and Gmail. You can opt for these three types in the process:

  1. Advertisements with local inventory
  2. Product shopping ads
  3. Responsive display ads

Advertisements with local inventory are ads that introduce and showcase products from your store in more detail to Google users who are in the area of your stationary store. When a user clicks on this ad type, they are redirected to a page hosted by Google for your store, where they can find information such as product inventory, hours of operation, directions, etc.

Product Shopping Ads are the classic ads you know from Google Search. They consist of an image, a title, the price, and the name of the store or business.

So können Produkt Shopping Anzeigen je nach Bildformat und Endgerät aussehen, Quelle: Google
This is what Product Shopping ads can look like depending on image format and device, source: Google

Responsive display ads include both dynamic remarketing and dynamic customer acquisition.

In the last step, you add the assets for the ads that you place in the Google Display Network. Assets include logos, images, text, and even videos (optional) that can be used to create responsive remarketing ads. They help deliver value to website visitors who have not yet shown interest.

This is how it works:

If a user interacts with the website or shows specific interest in a product or similar, the appropriate matching image and text is used to tailor the ad specifically to that person. In this way, assets help make ads more personalized and targeted.

Once you’ve done all that, you can preview your advertisement to check it again. With a click on “Save” it is then done – Your Smart Campaign is ready!

How can smart shopping campaigns be optimized?

Google presents several best practices specifically for optimizing Smart Shopping campaigns. These show ways in which you can act in different areas to improve your campaign and achieve the best possible performance. Therefore, the following are starting points:

Conversion Tracking

Even if conversion tracking is no longer a basic requirement for a functioning Smart Shopping campaign, it helps artificial intelligence to better understand correlations. This allows AI to extract information from the data and adjust future ads based on it.

However, conversion tracking is also a helpful tool for you to determine when ads lead to sales. You can make adjustments via these experience values and better see where optimization is needed.

Remarketing tag

An important data source for smart shopping campaigns are remarketing lists. These consist of visitors to the site identified over a day on the site. The list is updated at regular intervals to always guarantee the latest data and the best possible coverage. With the help of user-defined parameters, you can see which products the website visitors were interested in. This allows you to run more targeted remarketing campaigns. If you do not use any user-defined parameters, Google will automatically select suitable products from your product feed, which will then be displayed to the corresponding person. The deciding factors for the selection here are Google Analytics or a general website tag.


If you have already run various standard shopping campaigns, you have a certain amount of experience regarding the question of how much budget you need in the daily process. You can also apply this guideline to smart shopping campaigns. Keep budgets at a similar level as for the campaigns you have run so far.

Target ROAS

In general, smart shopping campaigns maximize your conversion value until your budget is used up. However, if you have certain goals, that you are pursuing with the campaign, you should specify and set them as a target ROAS beforehand. Here’s an example: If you want to get four euros in revenue for every euro you put into the ads, your target ROAS is 400%. With this additional information, Google’s algorithm can optimize the bids to better achieve the target intent within your daily budget.

But beware:

If your ROAS is too high, parts of your budget may not be used and thus your overall revenue will decrease.


Important for good ads is a base of sufficiently many and relevant products. Otherwise, the user may not be able to display the appropriate product in response to a search term. Therefore, make sure that your product feed in the Merchant Center is properly filled and well maintained. This includes image link, description, brand, GTIN (EAN), etc. The more products you manage within a campaign, the better it usually performs, as the Google algorithm has access to a broader treasure of data.

Focus on conversion value, rather than clicks

Not all conversions have the same value. Some are more valuable to businesses than others. The total value generated via ads can be assigned to the different conversions. This way you can see which ads have generated the most conversions and identify the ones that are relevant to you.

If you no longer only consider clicks and access numbers, but focus on the conversion value, you will be able to optimize your bidding strategy. Then, successful ads will also receive the most budget for bids.

Holidays and special occasions

On holidays or special occasions, e-commerce booms. Therefore, it is especially important that you place and present your products and offers perfectly. This is the only way to achieve more sales. If one of these special days is just around the corner, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Continue to use Smart Shopping Campaigns – Don’t worry: The algorithm can react to changes even at short notice and adapt ads to users’ behavior.
  2. Adjust your budget as needed – Holidays and special occasions encourage users to spend more money. You should take advantage of the increased activity on the net. But this only works if your budget is adjusted accordingly.
  3. Set target ROAS – Especially because of the increased activity, it is important that you set target ROAS. Make sure, however, that you do not set these too high, otherwise you limit your campaign.
  4. Make seasonal adjustments – This works in your Google Ads account via the tool icon. Here you click on “Shared Library” in the drop-down menu and then on “Bidding Strategies”. Under “Advanced Features” you will find the option “Seasonal Adjustments.”
The tool icon opens the drop-down menu for tools and settings. Here you can select the bidding strategies option, source: Google Ads


To analyze how well campaigns are working, you can rate them. For this, Google provides four tips:

  1. Wait until machine learning is optimized (this takes about 15 days).
  2. Include enough data.
  3. Consider external factors.
  4. Consider conversion delays.

Conclusion: are Google Ads and Smart Shopping campaigns right for you?

Google Ads are an important tool if you want to be visible on the web. In the SERPs, ads are often placed above the organic search results, which can make them more likely to be clicked. If a user already finds what they are looking for here, they will often disregard further results. But is it now also recommended relying on smart shopping campaigns? In general, yes, because they can help you to minimize efforts. Try it out in any case and gain experience. However, it is a prerequisite that you already have knowledge about classic Google Shopping campaigns. Only then can you judge how good smart shopping campaigns are for you, your products and your business.


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