Google Display Campaigns are Getting Smarter

By: Madison Johansen

What is a Smart Google Display Campaign?

Google recently rolled out a new type of display campaign called Smart display, which ultimately uses machine learning technology to help advertisers reach more customers easily on the Google Display Network (GDN) and win new conversions. Smart display campaigns are meant to be used to reach people at all stages in the buying cycle, from general interest to just before buying. These display campaigns use the power of machine learning to improve ad decisioning – automatically finding customers that are more likely to convert, efficiently bidding for them, and responsively serving ads to them in almost any ad space.

These campaigns utilize automated bidding, automated targeting and automated ad creation to deliver the best experience to your potential customers and provide better results for your brand as a whole. Essentially, you enter in the building blocks for the campaign such as headlines, images, logos, etc. then image, text, or native ads are automatically created and will responsively fit into nearly all ad spaces across the Display Network. Once the campaign is running, it will automatically optimize within the first several days depending on conversion volume – reaching the people that are most likely to convert and selecting the best combination of assets to give you the best results.

The pros and cons of Smart display campaigns

Smart display has a simple campaign setup and an easy to use interface to manage and track your progress, but there are also some drawbacks and things to keep in mind depending on your brand and goals. Although this is part of the appeal of Smart display, you lose the manual capabilities and controls – no manual bidding, no manual targeting or placement exclusions, no manual ad creation. You are also unable to control settings like delivery method or device and cannot create desktop-only or mobile-only campaigns. If this type of control is essential for you, Smart display may not be the best choice.

Although there are a few downsides, you should also understand that these display campaigns are designed to attract additional customers beyond your manually targeted campaigns and reach people in different stages in the conversion funnel. If you have been limited to standard remarketing campaigns on the Display Network, Smart display could be a great idea to test out.

The brands that have given this a try already have seen some pretty amazing performance, seeing conversions increase an average of 20% across the board compared to standard display campaigns priced at the same CPA.

Setting up a Smart display campaign

In order to set up a Smart display campaign, you must already be using conversion tracking and you have to have received at least 50 conversions on the Display Network, or at least 100 conversions on the Search Network, in the past 30 days. You also need to use CPA bidding and set your daily budgets to at least 10-15x the target CPA bid.

Once you plan the overall structure of your campaigns – number of campaigns, structure of ad groups, etc. the setup is rather simple. Choose one of the first four objectives under Drive Action in the goals section when creating a new Display campaign, then choose Smart display.

Then, you will need to enter in your assets – headlines, descriptions, logos, and images. You should enter in several for each of these categories to provide enough variety and you also want to ensure that all assets are fully interchangeable (for example, any headline could be used with any description).

Now you’re off to the races!

A Future with Artificial Intelligence

Smart display campaigns utilize the artificial intelligence concept of machine learning, which is not a new technology, but has been used in different aspects of display for several years now. Machine learning is virtually everywhere behind digital advertising but probably most prominently seen in programmatic ad buying. Google considers artificial intelligence a big part of its entire organization’s ethos, so I would say they likely have a lot more up their sleeves for the future.

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