Google’s Smart Campaign feature has created a lot of buzz in the PPC world. Thanks to automated bidding, better audience targeting options, and responsive ad tools, Smart Campaigns are alleviating a lot of the pain points associated with pay per click advertising.
Without the pressure of manually handling bidding and other time-consuming PPC tactics, marketers are quickly finding that they have a lot more time on hand to put towards other strategies.
Smart Campaigns have already made a big impact on the world of PPC, but some marketers have held out on taking advantage of these tremendous benefits. If you fit into this demographic, you’re about to get a catch-up course in starting a Smart Campaign on Google.
Are Smart Campaigns Universal?
Maybe you’ve held out on creating a Smart Campaign because you don’t feel that it is right for your business. Or, your PPC campaigns are performing well and you don’t want to mess with success.
If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
You wouldn’t be alone in thinking this way. There’s a number of misconceptions about Smart Bidding and campaigns and how they impact existing campaigns. Some veteran marketers classify Smart Campaigns as PPC with training wheels.
Unfortunately, these paid search marketing “experts” miss out on huge value and the opportunity to elevate their campaigns to a higher level.
The reality is that campaigns enabled with machine learning aren’t replacing existing campaigns or even making PPC easier. Instead, Smart Campaigns are allowing PPC professionals to market with sharper and quicker witt.
That machine learning engine is doing the work of an entire marketing team, and then some. Even the most seasoned PPC expert can’t compete with that.
There are, however, times when manual bidding is still the better option. Smart Campaigns require a lot of data to work optimally. Thus, marketers need to think carefully about the scope of a campaign and whether or not there is historical data to justify using the Smart Campaign feature.
Smart Campaigns Eligibility
The other reason that Smart Campaigns are not always universal is because not all Google Ads users will have access to this feature right away.
Again, in order for Smart Display Campaigns to perform to the best of their abilities, they need succificient data. The machine learning tool uses signals from past campaign performances to determine the best bidding and campaign decisions to achieve the desired results.
Google’s current eligibility standards for Smart Campaigns are:
- Conversion tracking must be enabled
- You must have at least 50 conversions in your normal display campaigns
- Or, 100 search ad conversions in the last 30 days
Google also recommends that marketers have a daily budget amount that is at least double their target CPA bid.
Planning Your First Smart Campaign
Once you’ve reached these eligibility standards, you’re almost ready to launch your first Smart Campaign. However, there’s a few more pieces to put into place. Many of these materials or figures you’ll need as you set up your Smart Campaign.
Decide On An Action
At the start of creating a Smart Campaign, you’ll need to set a marketing goal. In order to enable the Smart Campaign feature, this goal needs to be under the “Drive Action” drop-down. These are conversion-oriented goals. Do you want customers to buy? Subscribe? Book an appointment?
If you’re unfamiliar with PPC metrics, CPA stands for cost per action (or cost per acquisition). Target CPA is a dollar amount that you set to tell the Smart Campaign what you would like to ideally spend on your conversions. The machine learning uses this dollar amount to set bid amounts that will return the maximum number of conversions within this value range.
We emphasize the word “ideally” because it isn’t an exact match. Sometimes, you may spend more than your target CPA, and other times less. That’s why Google recommends having a budget twice the size of your target CPA amount.
In normal PPC campaigns, marketers develop completed ads. Smart Campaigns are different. They create responsive ads by pairing different combinations of ad components together. Then, it uses its machine learning capabilities to calculate the best possible combinations based on the current contextual signals.
When you start your first Smart Campaign, Google asks that you upload a number of different ad components (headlines, descriptions, URL) that it can use to create your ads. It’s good to develop these assets ahead of time.
Creating Your Smart Campaign on Google
Now that you have all of the required pieces, you can start your very first Smart Campaign. This process is not too different from creating a traditional display campaign. Once you’ve set an appropriate, conversion-oriented goal, the option to create a Smart Display campaign will be available.
In the steps that follow, Google will ask for your Target CPA, which you’ve determined in the previous section. Then, you’ll upload your ad components, which the Smart Campaign will use to develop the best possible ad for each auction.
Once you’ve completed the setup process, your Smart Campaign will go live.
Managing A Smart Campaign
Smart Campaigns are not entirely autonomous. While they do help automate some of the smaller tasks associated with pay per click advertising, a marketer still needs to be in charge and manage these efforts correctly.
There are three key areas to pay attention to:
- Budget: Smart Campaigns can’t touch your budget. It’s up to you to adjust it according to your means and the performance of your ads.
- Target CPA: You may decide to increase or decrease your target CPA to reach better results.
- Ad assets: Smart Campaigns create a handy report that allows a marketer to see exactly how each individual ad component performs. This makes testing different headlines and descriptions really efficient. When an ad component is vastly underperforming, you may want to take it back to the workshop and revise it.
Smart Campaigns offer a lot of potential value to marketers. If you haven’t experimented with this machine learning feature, you’re missing out on the opportunity to bring your pay per click advertising efforts to a new level.