Ecommerce Expansion With Shopping Ads, Search Or Display Campaigns: Which Do You Need At What Phase?

Ecommerce Expansion With Shopping Ads, Search Or Display Campaigns: Which Do You Need At What Phase?


It’s not just about the budget size you’re willing to spend when entering a new CEE market. Efficiency stems from employing the right techniques at the right time. What should you start with to test the market, when do you need Search, Shopping or Display campaigns and how do you recognise the time has come to switch gears?

If you’re an online store on the verge of expanding, you should read on.

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75 pages packed with all you need to know as an ecommerce business before you expand to Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Croatia and Slovenia.

Digital marketing sequencing matters 


Different stages of CEE ecommerce expansion ask to put different digital marketing tools and channels in place. How does digital marketing help your export? Although every export story is unique, there is a blueprint per se that you can follow, adjust, and repeat.

Having guided 120+ ecommerce companies to grow beyond borders, here’s what we know works.



Shopping Ads as an easy flex 





At Growww Digital, we’re all about maximising efficiency, and so we always start with the lowest hanging fruit.


“If you’re at the point where you have an expansion plan in place, done your market research as well as competitor research, you can fairly easily test the market’s potential by employing Shopping campaigns,” Zoltán Flekács, Head of Performance at Growww Digital advises.


You don’t have to create an ad text in a local language, all you need is to have a website and a good feed with translated product names and product texts. Especially if you’re selling products that don’t have a localised name (think mobile phones), even English could be enough.


“You have to accept that won’t be as successful, but it is a valid option to test the market, test your prices and enter a new country in a few months,” Zoltán adds, “it buys you time to prepare other types of campaigns.”


What would those be? 



Search Ads and their optimisation come second 


While your Shopping ads strategy is generating first results, you want to put search campaigns in place to cover all the relevant search queries. What kinds of results should you be looking for according to the expert?


“If you have done your homework, you probably have expectations of your industry’s typical performance in the new market, be it PNO or ROAS. What you do at this point is testing at what sales volume you can meet these efficiency expectations and whether you can grow your investment while still maintaining your expected PNO.”


As per setting up search ads, ecommerce companies do typically copy paste their best practices from the domestic market.


“It’s a good enough place to start but make sure you optimise early on,” Flekács knows.


How exactly can such optimisation look like? In today’s highly-automated digital marketing world, you basically have two main ingredients to set: 


  • your daily budget for a campaign or a channel
  • your expected efficiency metric (PNO or ROAS). 


According to the performance marketing expert, you play with the two as long as you find a sweet spot that can maximise your performance but still makes you money in the end:


“Let’s say you have a 30% margin on your products. That type of margin usually translates into about 5-600% ROAS. You start off your campaigns, set off your daily budget and set 600% ROAS as a target for those campaigns. Then you wait and see. After 24 weeks, you probably have traffic to your website and see first transactions, because it also takes time for these algorithms to learn whom to show your products. Take these results and analyse them. You might need to change your product titles, campaign targets or increase your budget.”


It’s a process of taking the data, analysing them and making changes. 



Simultaneously, you want to employ Price comparison engines 


Together with search ads, you can also go for price comparison engines, like Heureka or Árukereső, at this point as they too are a feed-based option. For both options, setting up a localised website is key: think local language, shipping, local return, local payment options. Comparison engines standardly require online stores to have their email addresses up on their websites as well as their return policy. You have to meet those requirements. 



While you do those, have your brand name in check 


“You also want to check that your brand doesn’t sound off in a new country’s language,” Flekács continues. “For those whose name only makes sense in their domestic country but hardly translates internationally, this is the point where you might want to consider rebranding to a global alternative. You can still make business with your domestic name but to locals, it will always sound foreign. If you’re taking expansion seriously there will eventually be a point when you come up with either an international name or localised names for each market. Why not solve this puzzle now and save yourself the pain of changing it two years in?” Growww Digital’s Head of Performance believes.


It’s not strictly performance marketing related but it does affect your performance, eventually. 



Display ads to build brand awareness 





Once you have your full campaign set up on Google and Facebook, as well as Shopping campaigns, you go on optimising.

“At some point, hopefully, you’ll reach a point where you cannot get more out of these campaigns. At about 50-60% impression share, you find that even when you raise your daily budget, the system will not spend it or will not meet your targeted ROAS. You’ve reached the number of relevant searches on the market that are available to you at that efficiency,” Zoltán informs, “sometimes it takes 6 months, other times it may take two years.”

“You can even see this point coming and prepare for it. At this point, you’ll add Display campaigns and go upward in the SEE-THINK-DO-CARE funnel,” he adds.

So far, we’ve covered the DO phase and partly the CARE phase if we take return visitors and remarketing into account. Now it’s time for the SEE and THINK phase which include Search ads as well (but more generic keywords) as well as Display, video on YouTube and Display on Facebook to build brand awareness.

“Especially when you have a specific product that people don’t know they need, like, let’s say homebake pizza ovens, you need a push strategy to generate demand,” Flekács shares. 


Social media presence from day one 


Social media channels are not strictly performance related, and yet it is important to start your social presence as soon as possible –⁠ they help conversions from other channels.  


“People will search for you on Facebook, Instagram and possibly TikTok to see if you’re active and trustworthy. They’ll look for reviews, comments and make assumptions on whether you’re reliable or not based on what they find,” Zoltán says, “if you’re considering long-term success on a market, you cannot skip this part.” 



Next steps: E-mail marketing and content strategies in place to create a stable presence 


To sum up, you’ll need Shopping and Search Ads to gain the most short-term benefits. Comparison engines are a relatively easy option as they too are feed-based. Display will always be part of the story, as will be Social. There’s also one more thing. 


The tools that helped you start the expansion don’t necessarily work alone in all stages and in case you don’t want to spend all your money on perpetual advertising, you have to have long-term strategies in place.


We’re talking SEO strategy, emailing strategy, content etc. We can help with that. In fact, we can help in all stages you are in.


Check in how our clients Kytary, Popgom, Berlin Brand Group, and Shopbuilder used these strategies to grow or book a call with us directly contact László Szabó, co-founder and Head of Growth at Growww Digital at or +36 30 537 7051


Download Your Free Ultimate CEE Ecommerce Export Guide!

75 pages packed with all you need to know as an ecommerce business before you expand to Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Croatia and Slovenia.