Avoid being dumb about Google Smart Campaigns

google smart campaigns

We recently reviewed a Google account that had some financial success with Google’s Smart Shopping campaigns. Here’s Google’s definition of these campaigns:

This campaign subtype combines standard Shopping and display remarketing campaigns, and uses automated bidding and ad placement to promote your products and business across networks.

While this seems like a suitable solution for time-strapped founders, Google’s smart campaigns leave out one key aspect: You will not learn much at all about the formula that works for you.

Why avoid publisher-optimized campaigns?

In an early stage of testing digital media, some tactics your team tests will work. Some won’t. The key is that you need to know the specific performance of your tested tactics. Launching smart campaigns cedes this playbook to Google. It’s alarming that the data is not shared with the advertiser as it is the advertiser’s financial investment. Segment your Smart Shopping campaign by platform and you’ll get this response: “Cross Network”. What an insight!

This is not just a Google epidemic. Many large publishers are offering “conversion-optimized” campaigns. These leave much to be desired in sharing the data points that were used to optimize your media buys and the insights that could help improve other aspects of your media plan.

Should you avoid automation?

Not at all! But keep three things in mind when deciding whether to automate your media campaigns:

Have your formula worked out before automating

If you’ve used digital media to learn and have applied those learnings to your greater marketing plan, then by all means move to automation and let the robots supercharge your already-successful strategy.

Make sure the conversion event is aligned with your revenue

Automation platforms are only as good as the event they are optimizing against. Keep in mind that leads do not equal sales. Map views do not equal sales. Video views do not equal sales. You need to make sure your automation platform received valuable conversion data. They also need enough data to make good choices with your media dollars. Five sales could be an anomaly. Make sure your data is statistically significant.

Use a platform that can see performance across publishers

Google is going to optimize to the performance Google can see. Same with Facebook. And Amazon. And any publishing platform. You should be using a system that can move dollars to where they make sense for your revenue targets, regardless of channel. Google will never tell you to move dollars from Google to Facebook and vice versa.

Would you like a recommendation for a solid media automation partner? Contact us.

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