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Google introduces Smart Campaigns for small businesses — the first new solution to launch under the Google Ads brand

The first new solution to debut under the new Google Ads brand is designed specifically for small businesses. Google announced the launch of Smart Campaigns on Wednesday.

A driving force behind the rebranding of Google’s advertising products is to simplify things for marketers. Simplicity is also the impetus behind Smart Campaigns, the new campaign type in Google Ads. Smart Campaigns are designed for small and local businesses that don’t have dedicated marketing staff and may not even have websites.

Smart Campaigns will be the default campaign type for new advertisers in Google Ads. The campaigns are almost entirely automated, from ad creatives to delivery optimization, based on the product or service being advertised and the goal the advertiser sets. Campaign goals include phone calls, website visits and requests for directions.

Creating easy solutions to appeal to more small businesses makes sense for Google — and is an area in which Facebook has been very successful. Google shared in a press briefing on Tuesday that it connects users to nearby business 9 billion times per month, including 3 million direction requests. Kim Spalding, who leads Small Business Ads at Google and is a former small business owner herself, said two-thirds of small businesses use digital marketing but face challenges and are looking for easy solutions.

Smart Campaigns are built on AdWords Express technology, and Spalding says the company will continue to develop on it. (Fun fact: AdWords Express was originally called Boost.)

Google’s lead generation product for home services providers, Local Services, is also aimed at small businesses but is separate from   AdWords Express. “Local services continues to grow and we’ve recently expanded to 60 markets,” Spalding told Search Engine Land.

Similar to Universal App Campaigns, Smart Campaign ads can be delivered across Google’s properties, and users do not have the ability to turn off channels. Targeting optimization is automated, and Google’s machine learning algorithms aim to show ads to the right audiences using behavioral, location, device and other signals.

Spalding says early results show Smart Campaigns are three times more effective at reaching a business’s target audiences than AdWords Express campaigns. One early tester cited by Google is Honest Soul Yoga in Alexandria, Virginia. The business says it doubled the number of intro offers in 60 days with Smart Campaigns.

Images in Smart Campaigns can be uploaded as well as pulled dynamically from advertiser websites and Google My Business Listings for advertisers to choose from.

Later this year, Image Picker (shown above) will launch to allow advertisers to pick up to three images to be tested in combinations with ad copy.

Smart Campaigns are designed to work with Google My Business for both ad creation — images, location addresses and so on — and soon, landing pages. For businesses that don’t have websites, Google will create and host auto-generated and optimized landing pages. The landing page will match the ad creative and have reporting built in. This is currently in testing and will be rolled into Smart Campaigns later this year.

Smart Campaign advertisers will get high-level reporting. A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land, “Currently, our reporting is at an aggregate campaign level. The product is new and we are always experimenting with different approaches. As more small businesses use Smart Campaigns, we will take their feedback and continue to evolve the product to ensure it’s right for their needs.”

Smart Campaigns are rolling out in the US today and will be available in all accounts globally by the end of the year.

This article has been updated to clarify that Local Services is a separate product from AdWords Express.  

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About The Author

Ginny Marvin
Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.