Just push ‘Go’: Google intros “Smart” campaigns

Worried your job might someday be taken over by a robot? Some digital marketers might be, following Google’s launch of Smart display campaigns last week.

In beta since December, Smart display campaigns use machine-learning to take ad automation one step further than Responsive ads.

When running Responsive display ads, Google uses advertiser-supplied headlines, descriptions, logos and images, to automatically create native, image or text ads ads that can fit available inventory across the Google Display Network (GDN).

Smart display campaigns up the ante: using machine-learning analyses of the likelihood of conversion, they automate audience and placement targeting (as well as bidding) for each ad auction.

Advertisers simply provide a Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) target and set daily campaign budgets (which must be at least 10 times the target CPA bid).


Robot images provided by Freepik

Google reports that during beta testing, marketers using Smart display campaigns realised an average 20% lift in conversions at the same CPA (compared to other display campaigns).

Advertisers need to have conversion tracking in place, and should have received, over the past 30 days, a minimum of 50 GDN conversions(or at least 100 conversions from Search ads). They should also make sure that any applicable site (or placement type) exclusions are applied to these campaigns.

Why should you care?

Smart display campaigns won’t suit all advertisers, but should please most.

Brand advertisers especially concerned about what, where and how ad creative is displayed, will be hesitant to hand over control (despite increases in scalability).

Advertisers running Smart display campaigns will still need to set and review CPA targets. They should also be actively removing or revising underperforming creative assets, and monitoring reports should additional site exclusions be required.


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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.