Google is always on the mission to make things simpler for its users on Google Ads. One major milestone was achieved in 2018 when Google launched the Smart Campaigns for users who want to set up an ad relatively quicker, required less experience to set up, and was seen as a great way to target as many users who are actively searching for ‘keyword themes’ related to the campaign. While all these points sound great in writing, the real story on why Smart campaigns may not be the smartest idea comes down to the results.
History on Google "Smart" Campaigns
Let’s take a look back in history on where the idea of the Google Smart Campaign started. Back in 2011, Google launched an automated ad campaign program with its at the time pay-per-click account labeled AdWords as the AdWords Express platform.
In 2011, Google wanted small business owners to take the initiative of their paid ads account at the time, putting them in control of their digital marketing campaigns without the need of a vendor, agency, or person with experience.
Therefore, we know Google mostly targeted small businesses and spread the word far and wide to fulfill their goal to have as many new accounts that are simply set up to run, without any or little management. The design of the AdWords Express platform was intended to meet the needs by providing a solution to the demand of increased search traffic in the past 5 years.
But with time, many businesses that used Google Adwords Express were sorely disappointed in simply the results. Our definition of results means more business for those businesses using the platform, but we don’t see that being the case with Google. It didn’t deliver on the promise of getting more customers, yet the traffic volume was high enough to believe it may have been worth it because we remember volumes of clicks being high, yet the search traffic quality was low. So what did this mean to the businesses which were using the platform? High amounts of spend with very little to no results. Possible business owners who noticed the volume of clicks may have simply had faith in the platform simply because of the traffic at the time, and with time, eventually, it came to a crashing halt with fewer and fewer business owners using the platform. Google tried to make some improvements in the platform, but they fell far short of delivering.
Realizing that businesses were losing faith in the AdWords Express account, Google finally replaced it with Smart campaigns in 2018.
How Google Smart Campaigns Work
When creating a Google Smart campaign, you write an ad that describes your business. You also get the choose a series of ‘keyword themes’ related to your ad.
Creating a Google Smart campaign is as easy as:
- Creating a Google Ads customer ID
- Creating a Smart Campaign (found under the + icon, choosing New Campaign)
- Choose Sales or Leads
- Go through the series to setup the Google Smart campaigns
Once you’ve entered your ad schedule, your budget, and your ads are enabled, you can now run your Google Smart campaign.
So who’d eligible to see your ad based on your Google Smart campaign now that it’s set up? Google claims your ad can show when potential customers in your geographic area search for phrases related to your business on Google or Google Maps. Yes, this is true to a certain point. Our experience first shows your ‘keyword theme’ is not exactly a keyword. To add to this, your don’t exactly know what the search terms user use to see your ad. This is blind marketing from our point of view as a marketing agency that handles hundreds of Google pay-per-click accounts. How can you advertise and not see the search terms which triggered your ad is beyond us. Google recently in 2021 added the page in their Smart campaign called Search Terms Report, found under the keywords themes option. Even with this report, users of the Smart campaign are yet to see the full list of keywords that both drive traffic and impressions for the smart campaign.
Google’s Main Business is Clicks & That's What Smart Campaigns Do
Don’t let Google’s Smart campaigns scare you off into believing PPC is just after you for the money. All it is is algorithms which are a good thing when you know how to work with them. Obviously, the name of the game is pay-per-click marketing and PPC is essentially making money for that ad platform every time someone clicks on your ad. Google is in the business of collecting money from you, short and simple they are in the business to sell more clicks to their advertisers and the Google Smart campaign was a great idea to give this an enormous boost and we’ll tell you why.
Given Smart campaigns can generate traffic from search advertising, including search partners, what’s missing in our opinion are 3 important elements that make a marketing campaign’s data successful. First, Search Terms are not quite visible even with Google’s updated search term traffic report that is supposed to deliver both the click search terms and impressions to the advertiser who is running the ad. Essentially you’ll be blindsided when using the Google Smart campaign because you will have no idea where:
- Where your traffic is coming from – which network.
- What keywords are driving clicks
- Which keywords are providing your ads impressions
- Which ads you have enabled are receiving more impressions or clicks
What’s to add is Google Smart campaigns actually provide a lot of traffic – that is impressions are high and clicks we’ll usually max out to the budget especially if you are in a competitive market and are targeting highly sought-after terms. So from a selling a click standpoint, Smart campaigns make sense for Google as they are making more money from its advertisers. From a business standpoint, the Smart campaign does not make sense other than it’s easy to set up.
Smart Campaigns Bring in Low-Quality Search Traffic
Speaking from experience, when we create Smart campaigns, the traffic from those campaigns is the lowest of quality in terms of a conversion rate, and the closed business rate from those conversions is low. Why you are wondering? We believe the way Smart campaigns being designed after a ‘keyword theme’ is the main problem to a low-quality ad generating traffic for irrelevant keywords which should be placed as negative, search partners which the ad shouldn’t be shown to (there is any option to turn this off), and the delayed response in the search term report which doesn’t usually report the impressions or the clicks in detail.
If you’re already running a Smart campaign, here what we recommend you do ASAP:
- Check the search terms report, make sure there are is not negative keywords on the list. If there are negative keywords in your Smart campaign, exclude them.
- Make sure your keyword themes are as accurate as can be. Don’t mix the ‘keyword themes’. For example, if you are a plumber yey you offer bathroom remodeling, don’t have both keyword themes related to plumbing and bathroom remodeling in one Smart campaign.
- Be sure to have more than 1 ad to give the campaign a chance to use more than 1 ad.
- Watch your budget – Google is known to go and max out the Smart campaign’s quickly so be smart on your own sense of what your really spending money on.
- Make sure your conversion is set up correctly with pixels and conversion tracking.
- Avoid advertising on the Smart campaign if your conversion rate is higher with traditional CPC campaigns such as in Responsive and Expanded Ads within the Google Ads account.
- Do an A/B test. See if your conversions are better with traditional search ads or with the smart campaign. See if you’re pulling in conversions at a cheaper rate with either source and capitalize on that source further.
Tired of Losing Money With Google Smart Campaigns? We Have a Better Idea GUARANTEED!
We hope this article was useful to any business owner who may re-think using Google Smart campaigns in their Google Ads account. If you have an existing ads account or would like to set up a new Google Ads account, get a free audit or consultation quote with 405 Ads. Our Google Ads specialists are available 7 days a week, and provide real-time support to our clients by phone, email, and Zoom! Simply message us by clicking here.
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