Successfully run Smart Display campaigns with Google AdWords

Stefano Viani


11 May 2017 Digital Marketing SEA

To successfully reach customers on different platforms, companies can now use Smart Display campaigns to place customised adverts on more than three million websites and apps. Thanks to machine learning, AdWords Smart Display is continuously optimised, responsive display ads are automatically created and conversion-optimised ad offers are placed.

Smart Display von AdWords verändert den Digital Commerce.

What Smart Display can do

Smart Display campaigns simplify the management of display advertising and make it easier for companies to acquire new customers and achieve higher conversions. Google speaks of up to 36% higher conversion rates than before. Smart Display campaigns are supported by Google's machine learning - the artificial intelligence automatically optimises the complex variables for ad creation. The Google Display Network, consisting of more than three million websites and apps, is used to distribute Smart Display campaigns. Until now, creating and optimising display campaigns has been a complex and tedious challenge - in future, advertisers will find it easier to reach their customers with the right message at the right time.

Automated learning ensures optimised display advertising in AdWords

Dynamic ad creation and dynamic remarketing are technologies from the AdWords toolbox that have been used for some time to optimise advertisements. With the launch of Smart Display campaigns, however, the focus of these dynamic measures is on achieving performance targets - in this case CPAs (cost per acquisition). This raises hopes that, in contrast to the previously imprecise display campaigns, clearly measurable effects of smart display advertising will be visible. Google will use automated learning to optimise the entire display advertising marketing process as follows:

  1. Automatedbid setting: depending on the set target CPAs, the smart display campaigns will be optimised to get the best value in the ad auctions. Google also calculates this depending on the expected conversion rate of the bids placed.
  2. Automated targeting: As the measure progresses, the Smart Display campaign is optimised. Google learns at the same time where the adverts are most effective and they are displayed more frequently in these places.
  3. Automated ad creation: As already possible, the ads are automatically compiled from the components (assets) provided. Images, logos, advert titles and descriptive text are adapted to the advertising spaces of the Google display network in an infinite number of responsive combinations.

Overall, Smart Display campaigns should enable advertisers to effectively save time by giving them better insights into the performance of their assets and optimising ads according to impressions.

Why is Smart Display important for companies?

For businesses looking to reach more users at all stages of the buying cycle and improve their conversion rates, Smart Display campaigns are a powerful tool. High-performance campaigns can now be created more easily and optimised automatically. For advertisers themselves, a user-friendly interface is available for managing adverts and tracking performance. In addition, the new responsive format of the display adverts eliminates the additional work involved in creating various formats (size, type). Overall, more reach can be generated with less effort. However, Smart Display campaigns are currently only available to experienced advertisers. For optimisation based on the target CPAs, sufficient data on conversion costs must also be available, as this is calculated from the historical values.

What do Smart Display campaigns look like?

The automatic ad creation combines thousands of different combinations of display ads from a series of given assets (images, logo, ad text, headline). The adverts always look good as long as the specified image dimensions and text specifications are adhered to. They are also optimised for specific placements based on their performance and are always responsive - without additional manual adjustment. For advertisers, this means less effort when creating adverts and protection against future format changes. In addition, the display adverts can be produced directly from a product feed.

An example of smart display ads created using the automatic ad creation tool:

Optimierte und automatisierte Erstellung von Smart Display Kampagnen dank künstlicher Intelligenz. - Blackbit

What makes Smart Display different from previous display campaigns?

Previously, manual bidding strategies had to be used to buy ad space on the display network. This meant that advertisers often had to perform similar, repetitive tasks to get the right placements on the Google Display Network. The new Smart Display campaigns automate and optimise the bid setting depending on the target CPA - eliminating repetitive clicks and leaving more time for strategic tasks. Targeting also optimises itself over the course of the Smart Display campaign: Adverts are displayed where they are actually most effective. The restriction that display adverts can only be shown on desktop devices or mobile devices becomes obsolete. Google now has most of the control, which initially makes it easier for advertisers to organise Smart Display campaigns.

Incidentally, remarketing lists are also included in Smart Display campaigns. This means that Smart Display campaigns and remarketing campaigns can continue to run in parallel. A customer can therefore be shown content from a Smart Display campaign because they were originally part of a remarketing list. However, you do not lose any customers because the more relevant adverts are always shown - regardless of whether they are from the Smart Display campaign or the remarketing campaign. The advert with the highest conversion probability is ultimately used.

The prerequisites for success with Smart Display campaigns

To be able to use Smart Display campaigns, advertisers must have completed at least 50 conversions with the Google Display Network or at least 100 conversions with the search network in the last 30 days. And in order to be able to collect sufficient data for optimisation, a daily budget of at least ten to fifteen times the target CPA must be made available. Smart Display campaigns are not a method for companies that are just starting out in search engine marketing (SEM), but are suitable for experienced advertisers who are willing to experiment. If the budget and conversion rate requirements are met, it is advisable to run a test campaign and compare it with the previous standard campaigns.

Pioneer for smart display campaigns

Google's artificial intelligence is finding its first application for advertisers with the new Smart Display campaigns. This opens up new opportunities for shop operators to increase their conversion rate in display marketing and boost their sales. In addition, the self-optimising processes within the Smart Display campaigns create more time that can be invested in structuring and planning marketing strategies. Blackbit currently supports customers in the planning and implementation of Smart Display campaigns. As a pioneer in digital commerce, it is natural for us to utilise innovative opportunities to help companies save resources and increase their sales.

Our online marketer André Reß implements Smart Display campaigns together with customers and is convinced of the possibilities for self-optimisation of the campaigns. As an SEO/SEM specialist, he is hoping for improved placement of adverts in the Google Display Network and better insights into the performance of individual campaigns. "Machine learning offers the growing online trade a powerful tool for better display ads, more precise targeting and clever insights into performance optimisation," says André Reß, summarising Google's expansion of AdWords. "With Smart Display, Google has created a new "egg-laying wool-milk sow" that is initially one thing: very hungry. We are curious to see whether it will fulfil the high expectations if it is fed sufficiently. As always with new Google products, "early adopters" have a particularly good chance of succeeding in the competitive world of e-commerce."

Want to find out more? Read our blog post on bid management now:

This post was updated on 21/03/2018.

About the Author

As Executive Director of Blackbit digital Commerce GmbH, Stefano Viani manages all areas of the agency in the offices in Göttingen, Hamburg, Berlin and Kiev. His passion is the development of marketing strategies and their implementation in concrete measures.

In his free time, Stefano is passionate about riding his motorbike or working out in the gym.