4 minutes

Demystifying the Smart Shopping Black Box

Smart Shopping, for the last couple of years, has been the spearhead of Google Ads Shopping offering, widely adopted as a best-practice approach to delivering the best results in the shopping space. Due to it’s Black Box-like nature, one concern we often have when making the shift to Smart Shopping is – what exactly is going on under the bonnet?

We know that Smart Shopping can generate high performance, but this comes at the cost of data, insights and control. However, we’ve discovered that – with a little digging – we can get a lot more data than initially thought!


Finding that hidden data

Cue, the Google Ads reporting interface. Simply by setting up the right report in Google Ads (and a little Excel manipulation), we can identify:

Smart Shopping performance by Placement Type:

  • Shopping
  • Mobile App
  • Web Page
  • YouTube Channel

Smart Shopping performance by Placement:

  • How each site, app, and YouTube channel has contributed to performance

To see this for yourself, create a table report, adding in Placement Type and Placement Group to your rows, and the performance stats you’re interested in. Then, you can export and analyse the results, summarise performance by Placement Type, or identify the top-performing sites where ads from Smart Shopping have appeared.

With a quick pivot, you can see where your Smart Shopping ads appeared, and how they performed in those placements.


We pulled out some insights around where your Smart Shopping ads are likely to serve and how well you can expect them to perform:

  • On average, 85% of clicks come straight from Google Shopping placements
  • Google Shopping converts best, with 95% of conversions through “proper Shopping” as we like to call it.
  • Mobile apps and Web page placements have a roughly even split of clicks on the whole, at around 7% each, and YouTube generates a low 1% of clicks.
    Mobile app and YouTube placements have the highest levels of engagement, with an average 7% and 8% CTR respectively. This is likely due to high levels of audience retargeting within these placements.
  • On Mobile Apps and YouTube placements, you can expect a very low CPC – a click in these placements is likely to cost 20% of what a click from a Shopping ad will cost.
  • Ultimately though, regular Shopping placements convert best. A click from a normal Shopping ad is 10x more likely to convert than a Mobile App placement, and 3.5x more likely than a Web Page.

How can you use this data?

  • Review Mobile Apps and Websites to identify where you should be aiming to get your GDN placements.
  • Review these placements to find out where you might want to exclude.
  • Find highly-relevant YouTube channels. Our insights suggest that Smart Shopping ads on YouTube have high engagement, so it stands to reason that your customers are actively watching videos on these channels. Target these channels within your YouTube campaigns!
  • This report data means you can be fully prepared to answer the common question of “but where do my Smart Shopping ads appear?”!