Performance Max – The next chapter

Performance Max will soon replace Smart Shopping campaigns, so we discuss all you need to know about PMax.

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The summer holidays will soon be coming to an end which means that before we know it it’ll be Christmas – many retailers’ busiest time of the year.

According to Google, 26% of people in the US started their shopping back in June, so the race is on for advertisers to optimise their campaigns for the run-up to Christmas. And with that in mind, Google is recommending everyone upgrade their old shopping campaigns to its newest campaign type, Performance Max, so they are ready to capture those Christmas shoppers.

Upgrading your Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max

If you are choosing not to upgrade your Shopping and Local campaigns to Performance Max, I’m afraid that Google will start automatically upgrading them next month.

There has been a ‘one-click’ upgrade tool available for Smart Shopping campaigns since April, allowing advertisers to switch over in just one click but from September Google will start automatically switching them over.

Google says that advertisers should keep these things in mind when the automatic switch over begins:

“Automatic upgrades will gradually progress and finish in September for most advertisers. You’ll receive a notification in Google Ads two to three weeks before your campaigns are automatically upgraded to help you prepare. The notification will provide a specific date when your campaigns will start automatic upgrades.

Some Smart Shopping campaigns using features like vehicle ads that are not yet available in Performance Max will complete automatic upgrades in early 2023. For campaigns not yet eligible for upgrades, advertisers will receive more specific information later this year about their automatic upgrades coming in early 2023.”

What are the main differences between Smart Shopping and PMax?

There are a few differences between the two campaigns. Firstly, you don’t get ad groups in PMax campaigns, you have asset groups and listing groups.

Asset groups contain all the assets for the ads – headlines, descriptions, images, videos, audience signals etc – everything Google needs to build ads and know who to target them at.

Listing groups are like the previous product groups – groups of products from Google Merchant Centre.

Another big difference between Smart Shopping and PMax is that Performance Max doesn’t have to have a Google Merchant Centre feed and can therefore be used for lead generation, as well as eCommerce.

New features for Performance Max campaigns

As Performance Max will soon replace Smart Shopping campaigns Google is trying to make them the best that they can be, and has therefore added some new features:

  • Optimisation score – Google now gives Performance Max campaigns an optimisation score and therefore provides recommendations on how to improve that score
  • Seasonality adjustments – there is now an option to tell your Performance Max campaign when it’s likely to see a peak in traffic and/or sales for a short period/event, such as a promotion/sale for instance. These are typically events that are between 1-7 days.
  • Data exclusions – the option to add in dates when you were experiencing conversion tracking issues for example, for it to ignore
  • Location setting changes – you can now set your location options to ‘Presence’ or ‘Presence or Interest’, like you can with the other campaign types
  • Explanations – these are now available for PMax campaigns, so advertisers can see potential reasons for why their ads have seen fluctuations in performance
  • Diagnostic insights – insight into any issues your ads may face from ad policy to billing and budget and more

Things to consider when setting up a PMax campaign

When it comes to creating a Performance Max campaign, Google recommends condensing as many of your targeting criteria as possible. In an ideal world, the campaign needs as much budget and as many data signals as possible, to allow it the most chance to learn. This means that if you can get everything into one campaign, you should see the benefits.

Campaigns should only be split out if margins/ROAS targets are vastly different for different products or separate budgets are required for specific product launches. Within a campaign you can create different asset groups, if some assets (images/videos etc) are better targeted at a particular audience.

How does performance compare to Shopping campaigns?

In my experience, Performance Max does perform slightly better than Smart Shopping, when looking at metrics such as CTR, conversion rate, CPA and ROAS. Google says; “Retail advertisers using Performance Max have an average 12% increase in conversion value at the same or better return on ad spend (ROAS) when upgrading from Smart Shopping campaigns”. Hopefully, results like these have been seen by most advertisers and will be a trend that we continue to see.

If you are a business that wants to make the most of the Christmas rush, get in touch to see how we can help.

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