About Smart display campaigns

Smart display campaigns offer a simple, intelligent solution to managing the complex variables of display advertising, and may be the most effortless way to broaden your customer base and win new conversions. Use a Smart display campaign to show ads in almost all formats across the Google Display Network, reaching people at all stages in the buying cycle – from people with demonstrated interests to customers just about to buy.

Across the Display Network, Smart display campaigns combine 3 optimisation technologies to take the labour and guesswork out of targeting, bidding and ad creation:

  • Automated bidding. Using Target CPA as a basis, Smart campaigns optimise to set your bids according to the likelihood of conversion in each and every ad auction, seeking to give you the best possible value.
  • Automated targeting. Targeting optimises as your campaign runs, which means your ads increasingly show where they’ll get you the most business.
  • Automated ad creation. Ads are automatically generated from the building blocks you provide, like headlines, descriptions, logos and images. They responsively fit into almost all ad spaces across the Display Network.

This article gives you an overview of Smart display campaigns. To get started, jump to Create and manage Smart display campaigns.


A top-performing campaign in minutes. You enter the building blocks for your ads – like headlines, images and logos – and we’ll find you as many customers as we can within the CPA bid and budget you control.

Smarter, not harder. Smart display campaigns automatically optimise within days. Your campaign automatically selects the best combination of assets to give you the best performance. In this way, you can learn which of your headlines, descriptions, images and logos perform best.

Find the people who matter most. Reach the people who are most likely to convert and get as many conversions as possible at a bid you set. Smart display campaigns optimise your performance with automated bidding and targeting, including remarketing.

When to use

Smart campaigns may be a good choice for you if:

  • You want to attract additional customers beyond your manually targeted campaigns
  • You use conversion tracking and you meet the conversion-based eligibility requirements. To be eligible to set up a Smart display campaign, you need to have gained at least 50 conversions on the Display Network – or at least 100 conversions on the Search Network – in the last 30 days.
  • You've limited your Display Network advertising to remarketing, but now want to reach people earlier in the buying process
  • You’re new to advertising on the Display Network and want a fast and highly performing campaign

What you gain with a Smart campaign:

  • A much simpler campaign construction flow
  • A friendly interface to manage your ads
  • A new, streamlined way of tracking your progress

What you leave behind:

  • Manual bid strategies
  • Settings like delivery method or device
  • Desktop-only or mobile-only campaigns
  • Manual targeting
  • Manually creating all your ads
  • Ability to change your Smart campaign into a different type of display campaign

How automatic bidding works

Smart display campaigns use target CPA, focusing on conversions. Your Smart campaign optimises to bid most aggressively when performance data suggests the highest likelihood of conversions, and bids significantly less when data suggests that there is a low likelihood of conversion. After a necessary learning period, your campaign should begin to optimise either within 2 weeks or after it generates about 50 conversions, whichever comes first.

Pay for conversions

You can choose to pay for conversions, instead of clicks on Smart display campaigns that use Target CPA bidding. When setting up your campaign, go to the 'Bidding' section. Look for the header labelled 'Pay for' and select Conversions from the drop-down menu. Learn more about pay for conversions.

How automatic targeting works

To help you reach the people who matter most to your business, automated campaigns use performance data to aggressively seek conversions. Smart display campaigns combine two targeting methods: automatic remarketing to people who have visited your website and also automatic targeting, which excels at catching customers “mid-funnel” – that is, much earlier in the buying process.

Example: Say you sell sparkling water. Ordinarily, you may not have thought to include “office supplies” as a targeting keyword for your sparkling water campaign. But if there are strong associations between “office supplies” and sparkling water sales, automatic targeting will work to get you sales with that targeting. This is just one example of one keyword. Smart campaigns can find many such keywords, using machine intelligence and browser data to target signals that you couldn’t have anticipated on your own.

Don’t worry if you already have other campaigns using remarketing – a Smart display campaign tends not to shift customers away from those unless you choose to combine them. When you have multiple campaigns serving ads to the same audience, we'll always use the ad that’s most relevant.

Learn more about automatic targeting.

Note: While targeting within Smart display campaigns is automated, AdWords offers additional controls to help you manage where your ads appear. You can create account-level placement exclusions to prevent your ad from being shown on specific sites. You can also create site category exclusions.

How ad creation and optimisation works

Say that you want to launch a campaign, but you don’t know what images and text to use in your ads. You decide to enter your assets (headlines, description lines, images and logos) and run them in a Smart campaign. Here’s what happens next.

  1. The system combines your individual assets into ads that automatically resize to fit any standard ad size or type, automatically selecting the best combination for each impression
  2. Your ads show in targeted ways to people browsing one of the millions of websites on the Display Network
  3. When the assets have accrued enough data, you get reports on how well they are performing
  4. You learn what works best and what doesn't work, and you can adjust your campaign to use the most effective images and text
  5. You save time while benefiting from the system’s capacity to optimise your campaign

What do my ads look like?

Smart campaigns run Smart display ads, a new responsive format, on the Display Network. What that means is your assets are combined into text, image and native ads that reach ad spaces of all types and sizes. The responsive ad’s adaptability allows you to expand your reach without you having to create dozens of ads in all the combinations of ad types and sizes.

To use responsive ads to remarket specific products to people who’ve recently seen them on your website, attach a feed to your Smart campaign. Your ads may show images of the products accompanied with your marketing text. The feed can be attached in the Settings tab, or during campaign creation under Dynamic ad settings.

It’s impossible to preview all the thousands of possible combinations that could make up your ads with a Smart display campaign. Your ads are designed to look great as long as you add images and logos that fit within the image ratio specifications. They’ll also be able to blend into publisher’s websites as native ads, giving you impact that standard ads may not.

How performance data works

As your campaign ramps up, you’ll want to see results and manage your assets. The Smart display campaign asset report includes example ads and performance data:

  • Example ads. Click View more sizes to see more examples in many of the sizes that your ads run.
  • Performance data. Use your table to view data for each asset – including how Google has graded the performance of that asset based on its ability to produce conversions.
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