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Google rolls out Smart display campaigns

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Display / April 24, 2017

At 2016’s Google Performance Summit, the folks from Google spoke a lot about how machine learning was going to play a larger role in building and optimizing campaigns.

Now we’re starting to see machine learning in action. With the launch of Smart display campaigns, Google is asking advertisers to “sit back and let Google do the work.” The crux of it: Google’s optimization technologies do the heavy lifting: uncovering new placements, adjusting your bids, and even building your ad creative.

via GIPHY

Let’s learn more.

Smart display has three features: automatic targeting, automated bidding and automated ad creation. Combining these three processes, Google claims that campaigns will optimize themselves — delivering the right creative, to the right audience, at the right price.

Here’s how each of these features break down:

Automatic targeting

While the GDN offers several types of automatic targeting, only one applies to Smart display campaigns. Claiming it will help advertisers find their people — in other words, customers — Smart display campaigns utilize a mix of contextual, audience-based targeting and remarketing.

Automated bidding

Advertisers who want Smart display campaigns must be using target CPA bidding, which will set bids to attract as many conversions as possible. You will set a target CPA, based on what you want to pay per acquisition; the GDN then relies on historical information and contextual signals to adjust your bid in real time.

Automated ad creation

Automated ads are not new; the GDN has created responsive ads on the fly for a couple years. If you haven’t tried them, it means letting go of your creative prima donna. Smart display campaigns ask you to enter your ad copy, images and logo, which are assembled into various ad types, sizes and shapes based on where they appear on the GDN.

Go big or go home

Smart display campaigns looked like an appealing option for someone who wants to test out display advertising with minimal management and risk. But criteria for running one of these campaigns could exclude small businesses and startups.

In addition to having conversion tracking enabled on your campaign, you must have accumulated at least 50 conversion on the GDN, or 100 conversions on the Search Network in the last 30 days. And they need to set daily budgets that are at least 10 to 15 times the target CPA bid.

Conversion quotas give Google historical data they can apply to optimize your campaign. However, these criteria also limit their availability to big brands that have an established and healthy campaign.

For advertisers who do qualify for Smart display campaigns, Google is promising an expanded reach to targeted and untapped markets, however, we caution you to test these and analyze the results carefully. As with any automation, Smart Display campaigns may work for some advertisers and not for others where you need a tighter set of controls and specific optimizations. We’d love to hear your stories about how these campaigns worked for you. And of course, we have the chops in-house to build and manage your Smart display campaign or your regular display campaigns smartly. Just ask.

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