What Tuff Learned From Smart Display Campaigns: Part 1

Smart Display Campaigns are a newer feature in Google that appear as a done-for-you option to the historically nebulous google display network. 

It’s simple, you give Google a handful of creatives and a budget and machine learning does the rest, literally. 

Bid adjustments? Google.

But who will the ads target? Don’t worry, Google’s on it.


Let’s dive into Smart Display Campaigns and see what these things are all about

When you create a new Display campaign the first step is to choose your campaign goal. Next up, you will see the Smart Display Campaign option and proceed to give Google up to 5 headlines/5 descriptions/and a good variation of images (we’ve done up to 20 images/logos)

Screen-Shot-2018-04-25-at-11.44.17-AM.png#asset:170Choosing your campaign goal.

Screen-Shot-2018-04-25-at-11.44.25-AM.png#asset:171Select the Smart Display Campaign option here.

Screen-Shot-2018-04-25-at-11.44.33-AM.png#asset:172Give Google the variations of headlines, descriptions, and images.


  1. Like everything with AdWords, you need conversion tracking working like a charm
  2. You need at least 50 display network conversions or 100 search network conversions in the last 30 days
  3. Google recommends you have at least 20x your target CPA as a starting budget

Honorable Mentions

  1. If you’re using remarketing for deep funnel conversions like sales, think about secondary conversions that track higher up the funnel downloads, optins, etc and the smart campaign will optimize accordingly.
  2. If your remarketing is a simple one list approach, think about using one smart display campaign for both cold outreach as well as remarketing, as it optimizes for all conversions and all targets including those remarketing lists. 
  3. You still have control over site category and content exclusions, which you should take advantage of.


  1. Allow at least two weeks or 40-50 conversions worth of data before you think about optimizing.
  2. Early results showed one campaign leaning heavily on mobile inventory. If you don't want to show on mobile apps, go to the shared library, then account placement exclusions, and exclude www.adsenseformobileapps.com.


By the numbers... 

Here is the data from two Smart Display Campaigns for different accounts, so far: 

Business A:

  • Smart Campaign: $3 target CPA, 15 images, 2 logos, 5 headlines, 5 descriptions all around one general Keyword theme
  • Display conversions in the last 30 days: 748 
  • Cost per conversion: $7.46 
  • Conversion rate: 5.34%
  • After a few days: $3.22 CPA

Business B:

  • Smart Campaign: $100 target CPA, 12 images, 2 logos, 5 headlines, 5 descriptions all around one general Keyword theme
  • Search conversions in the last 30 days: 197 
  • Cost per conversion: $299.56
  • Conversion rate: 8.73%
  • After a few days: $161.27 CPA

But, but…who will be targeted?

Google is taking into consideration all of the history that we can both see and not see within an account to come up with targets and bids for these campaigns.

That means your conversion data and all those touch points they keep hidden for the sake of privacy in today’s digital age are used to find conversions. Smart Campaigns do seem like the natural evolution of an increasingly useful automated suite of features in AdWords like Target CPA bidding, InMarket audiences, and Auto Targets, but I wouldn't recommend putting all your eggs in this basket just yet. Current features already use millions of hidden touch points that Google/ Youtube/ Android have accumulated over the last decade, however, some new features come with a costly learning curve.  

Let’s see how Smart these campaigns really are! Stay tuned for Part 2 and a 30-day roundup of the results.

If you need help with your Smart Display Campaign setup or optimizations or for any other Digital Marketing help, reach out to Tuff!

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