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Why is “Smart Mode” the Worst Way to Run Google Ads?

By Snap Agency February 2, 2021

Smart cars. Smart TVs. Smartphones. We love to preface products and services with words that assure us we’ve made, well, a “smart” decision. Smart Mode in Google Ads uses the same logic.


We’re going to get a little controversial here and say that while Smart Mode has its perks, it’s still not the best way to run Google Ads. Stick with us, because we’ve got an alternative that’s smarter than smart, for real this time.

What is Smart Mode in Google Ads?

Smart Mode is the simpler, more straightforward version of Google Ads. If you’re new to digital advertising, it’s not too shabby; Smart Mode does save time and drive real, quantitative results. It’s somewhat customizable, too, so you can manage your business goals, where you wish to advertise, and through what channels you want to reach customers.

Why is Expert Mode Better Than Smart Mode?

Don’t get us wrong; Smart Mode can be a valuable stepping stone. New Google Ads users default there for a reason. But Expert Mode offers so much more in terms of adjustable features and what you can control. Of course, it also requires more complex management, but more on that later.

Expert Mode Has More Targeting Options

With Smart Mode, you more or less leave manual targeting behind. Now, that may sound nice at first, but think of all those occasions you want to tweak your ad just-so for specific demographics, such as age, gender, economic status, and geographic location. You can make those tweaks in Expert Mode and narrow down where and when certain ads appear. One size doesn’t fit all in real life, so why should it in advertising? 

Expert Mode is Great for Your Budget

It’s never fun to lose money to clicks when customers don’t know what they want. Let’s say, for example, that you sell noise-canceling headphones. If your ad appears in response to anyone who types in simply “headphones,” you could wind up losing a ton of money. 


Expert Mode allows for exact keyword matching and saves you that trouble. Say you only want your ad to appear in response to “noise-canceling headphones” instead of just “headphones.” Or, more specifically, “(Your Brand Name Here) noise-canceling headphones.” Setting exact keyword parameters not only saves you money, but also keeps you relevant.


Similarly, Expert Mode allows you to set max keyword bid limits. While Google does have a valuable “maximize conversions strategy” option, it’s not always cost-effective. For that reason, max keyword bid limits are a useful alternative.

Expert Mode Allows Access to All Google Ads Campaign Types

Smart Mode limits the types of ad campaigns you can use. With Expert Mode, you can use all kinds of Google Ads, including not only Search, but Display, Video, App, and Shopping. Here are a few examples of the many perks this exclusive access offers:



  • The ability to reach 90% of internet users worldwide through 2 million websites on the Display Network
  • Uploaded image ads, Gmail ads, and many more visual innovations


  • Visual ads that appear between streams, as bumper videos, video discovery ads, and so on


  • Promo ads for your iOS or Android app on sites like YouTube and Google Play to boost the number of installations


  • Showcase shopping ads that allow you to group similar products together
  • Local inventory ads, so that customers know what you have in stock


And that’s barely scratching the surface! All of these benefits would be overwhelming if they weren’t so dang helpful.

How to Turn off Smart Mode in Google Ads

As we mentioned earlier, Google Ads defaults to Smart Mode for new registrants. For those who want to take that one step further, or are already backed by a digital agency, we recommend making the switch from Smart Mode to Expert Mode.


Once you sign in to your Google Ads account, click on the Tools button, which is shaped like a tiny wrench in the top right corner of your web page. From there, click on “Switch to Expert Mode.”


Heads up, though: switching from Smart Mode to Expert Mode is permanent; you can’t go back to Smart Mode. Thankfully, you can continue to edit your Smart Campaigns from Expert Mode, similar to any other campaign.

Take a Load off Your Shoulders—Leave Google Ads to the Experts

Remember how we said a more complex ad strategy requires more complex management? That’s where we come in. Partner with us today so that your Google Ad strategy hits the ground running. What are you waiting for? Let’s connect!