How to Set Up A Smart Shopping Campaign in Google Ads

Written by Nicola Bell

Nicola is the Digital Account Manager at GlowMetrics, preparing and executing PPC & SEO strategies for new and existing clients. Nicola specialises in integrated marketing campaigns, combining the best of paid social and paid search to get the finest of results for her clients
November 27, 2019

Google has been pushing its automated solutions more and more over the last few years. From automated bidding solutions to responsive and dynamic search ads, it’s becoming clear that automation is the direction Google wants us to take. 

The most recent iteration in Google’s quest towards complete adoption of automation in Google Adds is the Smart Shopping Campaign. 

What is Smart Shopping?

Smart Shopping is a new campaign type for Google Shopping campaigns. However, unlike standard shopping campaigns, Smart Shopping uses machine learning and algorithms to automate bids and ad placements. Up until now, Shopping campaign management has involved long and tedious work setting campaign priorities, product groups, bids and negative keywords – but this work is not required with Smart Shopping.

This makes them perfect for smaller eCommerce business owners who simply don’t have the time to run shopping campaigns effectively or efficiently. 

Another key difference from standard Shopping campaigns is rather than just utilising the Shopping network, Smart Shopping campaigns use the display network, Gmail and Youtube as platforms to dynamically remarket products to customers. Google chooses when and where to show your ads across these platforms. There are no targets, audiences or placements to be set. The system is designed to show the right products in the right place to the right audience at the right time, based on the chances the ads have to convert into sales

What You Need to Run a Smart Shopping Campaign

To make things even better, Smart Shopping campaigns use your existing product feed to generate ads. So, if you’re already running shopping campaigns, you won’t have to do any extra work to create Smart Shopping campaigns.

Using the images and content in your feed, Smart Shopping creates ads for your products and then uses machine learning to optimize those ads. According to Google, this generation/optimisation process takes about 15 days, but then Google’s algorithms should have all the information they need to maximise your return on investment

Make sure you meet the following requirements:
– You must have a Google Merchant Center Account
– You must have a product data feed uploaded and approved on your Merchant Center account
– You must have a conversion tracking tag installed on your website
– You must be tracking transaction-specific conversion values
– You must have a remarketing global site tag on your website
– You must have tagged your site for dynamic remarketing 
– You must have at least 20 conversions over the last 45 days across existing Shopping campaigns
– You must have at least an audience list with more than 100 users

How to Set Up a Smart Shopping Campaign

The set-up of a Smart Shopping campaign is very similar to setting up a normal shopping campaign in the Google Ads interface and can be done in 4 simple steps.

Click New Campaign

New Google Ads Campaign

Click Shopping

New Shopping Campaign
Select Smart Shopping Campaign

Set Budgets and ROAS Targets 

Quick Tip for Setting Up a Smart Shopping Campaign

The More Data The Better – Google recommends building campaigns segmented by product groups that have had at least 20 conversions in the last 15 days, ideally 100 in the last 30 days. If sales haven’t reached these benchmarks then we recommend combining product groups to give the algorithm enough data to work with.

Smart Shopping: Best Practices

As with all Google Ads innovations, you’ll have to test and apply best practices to see how they perform and determine if they are right for your business and your business goals. Remember, they might not work for your industry, audiences or products. 

Start Small

Start with a specific product group and leave the others running in normal Shopping campaigns. Smart campaigns have priority over existing campaigns for the same products, so they will disrupt normal ad activity and performance.

 Test It Out

Run your test for a minimum of 2 weeks and then evaluate performance. If everything looks good, start adding other product groups until you’ve transferred the full product catalogue over to Smart Shopping.

Don’t Double Up

If you plan to include your full product catalogue within a Smart Shopping campaign, we recommend pausing existing Shopping and Dynamic Remarketing campaigns to avoid over-serving and wasted budget.


For many eCommerce businesses (especially smaller ones), Google Smart Shopping is a great opportunity to get better results with less effort. If you run a large Ecommerce platform it is still worth testing Smart Shopping to see if there are any positive outcomes vs standard shopping campaigns.

Machine learning is a powerful tool, and likely, Google’s algorithms will only get better with time. But while they aren’t guaranteed to make you more revenue, Smart Shopping is designed to save time and reduce frustration.

Give it a go and let me know how things work out in the comments!



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