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Smart Shopping Campaigns: Why They Outperform Normal Shopping Campaigns

As a retailer, your online marketing goals are pretty simple:

Reach more shoppers who want exactly what you’re selling.

Sure, extra website visits and browsers are welcome — but you want commitment. No more dragging feet or backing out last-minute; you want shoppers who want you.

And for a while, marketing yourself with Google Ads was your best channel for sales.

Until Google “Smart” Shopping ads came along.


Standard Shopping vs. Smart Shopping Campaigns: What’s the Difference?

Standard Shopping vs. Smart Shopping Campaigns

Perhaps you’re unfamiliar with standard Google shopping campaigns. So, before touching on what makes Smart Shopping campaigns so special, let’s take a minute to freshen up on standard shopping campaigns: the OG of online advertising for retailers.

Standard Shopping Campaigns:

Let’s pretend I’m an online shopper on the lookout for red shoes. Naturally, I’ll head to Google and type “red shoes” in the search box.

Now, what shows up at the top of the results page is listing upon listing of — you guessed it — red shoes. These listings show an image of the product, description, price, and brand name, like this:

Smart shopping red shoes

It’s a lot like window shopping, but through your computer.

And that, my friends, are what standard Google Shopping campaigns look like in action.

Here’s how it works:

As an advertiser, you send your product feed (i.e. a listing of all the products on your website,) to Google using a Merchant Center Account.

After you set your budget, Google uses your feed to create “placement shopping ads” that appear on relevant search results pages.

These ads include a photo of the product and its correlating information — a step above standard text ads.

These ads ensure the user sees all the important “must-know” details about your product before clicking — therefore, each click is (in theory) made by a more qualified lead.

So, standard shopping ads? Not too shabby.

… But Google likes to one-up itself.

Enter: Smart Shopping Campaigns

Smart Shopping Campaigns: Why They Outperform Normal Shopping Campaigns

Smart Shopping campaigns take standard shopping campaigns a giant step further.

See, with Smart Shopping campaigns, you still send your product feed to Google via a Merchant Center Account, create a campaign, and Google still pulls your product information to create placement ads that appear when a shopper searches for a relevant product.

But, that’s just where it begins.

More Than Placement Ads: How Smart Shopping Campaigns Work

We like to think of Smart Shopping campaigns as the love child of standard shopping campaigns and display remarketing campaigns:

Your Smart Shopping campaigns not only include placement ads, these ads are also shown across Google’s networks — from Google search to YouTube and Gmail.

But, not only are these ads shown in more places, they’re also only shown to specific people, i.e. shoppers who have shown extreme interest in what you’re selling.

In other words, what makes these campaigns “Smart” is their ability to post up on any other websites that run display ads with Google — and actively seek out users who have shown an interest in your product.

Smart Shopping Campaigns: Why They Outperform Normal Shopping Campaigns

In fact, Google even predicts which users are interested in your specific product and are likely ready to buy — then shows your ad accordingly. Unlike retargeting ads that remind shoppers who have already visited your site of the items they viewed, Google considers shoppers’ past research and shopping habits and brings the most relevant ads right to their virtual front door.

In other words, instead of following the same flip-floppy, non-committal shoppers around, Smart Shopping ads seek out the right customer for you.

But there are so many more reasons why Smart Shopping campaigns outperform standard shopping campaigns.

Why Smart Shopping Campaigns Outperform Standard Shopping Campaigns:

  • Saturation By Impression

On average, an advertiser needs about 29 impressions before a purchase is made. This means your ads have to show up on a user’s page 29 times before he or she commits to making a purchase.

That kind of sounds like an impossible feat with standard placement ads, doesn’t it?

Well, with Smart Shopping ads, the user is (gently) flooded with your ads on multiple networks. So, when this user sees your ads more frequently over a shorter period of time, it speeds up that purchase process.

  • Google Shows Ads When a User Is Ready to See Them (Industry Sales Cyles)

Google knows all — including when a shopper is statistically most likely to buy.

So, Google’s Smart Shopping campaigns put your ads in front of those users who are not only interested in something you offer, but also want to buy now.

While it’s great to grab the attention of prospective customers who are just doing some research (hello, brand recognition!), it doesn’t generally result in a purchase — at least not right away.

Showing your ads to users who are ready to make a purchase means more effective ad spend.

  • Smart Shopping = Product Agnostic

As we mentioned before, Google utilizes your product feed to find users who are in the market for your inventory.

In many ways, Google plays match-maker here: They know who these users are and where to find them (better than Google Ads). So you can be sure your product ads are landing in front of the right people.

Should You Dump Standard Shopping Ads?

When it doubt, test it out.

What we mean is, try running a standard shopping campaign along with a Smart Shopping campaign and see which yields the best results for you.

Our guess? Smart Shopping will outperform your standard shopping campaigns. But, every retailer is different.

Not sure where to go from here?

We don’t blame you!

Setting up a traditional Ads campaign is complicated enough — if you want to ensure your shopping campaigns are done effectively, reach out anytime.

It’s sort of our thing.

Smart shopping vs Standard shopping infographic


Patience is the former director of marketing and communications for Solutions 8. A phenomenal content writer, copywriter, editor, and marketer, she has played a prominent role in helping Solutions 8 become an authority in the Google Ads space. Patience is also the co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Google Ads Agency and You vs Google.

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