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An Introduction to Smart campaigns in Google Ads

Back to all resources

An Introduction to Smart campaigns in Google Ads

Key take-aways

Smart campaigns are the new default campaign type for Google Ads, designed to help business owners improve the way they promote their products and services online. These campaigns can be set up in minutes, and they use smart technology to monitor and improve the performance of your ads continuously, so you can spend more time on other business tasks. Discover how Smart campaigns in Google Ads can help you gain more value from your online marketing.

1. What exactly does a Smart campaign streamline?

2. What is Smart Bidding?

3. Where do ads created with a Smart campaign appear?

4. How do Smart campaigns improve conversions?

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads is an advertising service by Google for businesses that want to display ads on Google search results and its advertising network.

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1. What exactly does a Smart campaign streamline?

Starting your first Smart campaign with Google Ads is simple: set your business goals, input your budget and specify your location, then your ads are ready to launch. Smart campaigns detect search phrases that are relevant to your business, fine-tunes your bids and shows your ads to potential customers who are searching for what you offer. Your campaign's performance is monitored constantly, and the algorithms are always learning how to better predict which user interactions will help you achieve your business goals.

Smart campaigns are great for small businesses that don't have a lot of time to spend learning about online marketing or managing their ads.

The staff of a fish and chip shop in Derby, for example, may be too busy serving food during their shifts to dedicate any time to optimising the search phrases bids on each of their Google Ads. With Smart campaigns, they no longer need to manage this process manually. Google’s technology will identify terms like "haddock" and "battered sausage" as relevant to the business and automatically show ads to nearby potential customers searching for those terms.

Target CPA

Target CPA is a Google Ads Smart Bidding strategy that sets bids to help get as many conversions as possible at the target cost-per-acquisition (CPA) you set. It uses advanced technology to automatically optimise bids and offers auction-time bidding capabilities that tailor bids for each and every auction

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2. What is Smart Bidding?

Smart Bidding is a strategy that optimises your bids to improve sales performance over time, by using data from trends in user behaviour. A business owner might employ a Smart campaign which uses Smart Bidding to gain the maximum conversions or conversion value in every auction.

When the Google system correctly predicts a conversion that achieves your business goal, it will try to repeat the same success next time. When a user doesn't convert, the system learns from this and changes its behaviour accordingly in the future.

This is all done automatically, and Smart campaigns work differently depending on the business goals that you define. Once a goal is set, Smart Bidding is a strategy used to continually refine the amount you spend on each ad.

A furniture shop looking to promote armchairs in Portsmouth might use Smart Bidding to become better at generating sales over a set period. If mobile users who search "armchairs for sale" tend to go on to make a purchase, the system will begin to increase the amount it bids on those auctions. Over time, it will recognise trends in potential customers’ browsing habits and may realise that those who search in the morning, for example, are more likely to buy an armchair than those searching in the evening. To take advantage, Smart Bidding will adjust the amount it bids on ads to spend more earlier in the day.


The process that happens with each Google search to decide which ads will appear for that specific search and in which order those ads will show on the page (or whether or not any ads will show at all).

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3. Where do ads created with a Smart campaign appear?

Ads created with a Smart campaign run on both the Google Search Network and the Google Display Network. Each of these networks can help you reach potential customers at various stages in the buying cycle.

Search ads

Search ads appear in Google search results at either the top or the bottom of the page, and are always labelled "ad". These ads can help you reach people who are already searching for the specific goods and services that your business offers, and they do this at the precise moment users are looking for an item or solution.

Display ads

Display ads are eligible to appear across the more than two million websites that make up the Google Display Network. They are shown to potential customers who have shown interest in your business category. Customers usually see Display ads earlier in the buying cycle, before they've started searching for what you offer.

A carpet fitter in Wolverhampton, for example, may start a Smart campaign to promote their new floor fitting service. Google Ads will automatically tailor ads for floor fitting in the local area and place them on both the Google Search Network and the Google Display Network. This means the campaign only needs to be created once and the ads the will reach potential customers whether they're searching Google, checking their email or browsing their favourite website.


An action that's counted when someone interacts with your ad (for example, clicks a text ad or views a video ad) and then takes an action that you've defined as valuable to your business, such as an online purchase or a call to your business from a mobile phone.

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4. How do Smart campaigns improve conversions?

It's normal for different types of business to aim for different outcomes. Many businesses use Google Ads to turn prospective customers into new customers, but not every conversion is a sale. Rather, a conversion can be any interaction that adds value for your business.

With Google Ads, there are three types of business goals:

  • Phone calls
  • Store visits
  • Website visits

Research shows that Smart campaigns are three times better than traditional campaigns at getting ads in front of the right audience. This is because they use a range of data to select the optimum amount to spend on auctions and can use more information to calculate whether or not the ad is likely to result in a conversion. The technology will also determine if the people being reached are the right potential customers for you, and then adjust to give you the best result.

An antiques dealership in Reading could use a Smart campaign to boost the number of potential customers that phone up the store. Once the business owner has created their new campaign in Google Ads, they can set phone calls as their conversion goal. The Smart campaign will then refine the way it bids on auctions to get as many calls as possible. If, for example, a potential customer has searched “antique store near me", then the Smart campaign may raise its bid because it’s likely the potential customer is ready to give the store a call.

Smart campaigns use Google’s powerful technology to make better predictions about your ads. When deciding whether a potential customer is relevant to your business needs, they assess a broad range of factors to determine the likelihood of conversion. From there, Smart campaigns continuously tweak and refine their strategies — helping you find the right prospective customers for your business at exactly the right moment.

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