Google Performance Max campaigns have replaced Smart Shopping entirely for businesses, and there are many questions surrounding what it is and how it works. What exactly are the benefits of Performance Max, what kind of advertiser should be using it, and can it help boost online sales?

Let's delve into the details of Performance Max and shed some light on this offering from Google.

What is Performance Max?

Performance Max is a goal-based campaign type with the aim of letting advertisers increase conversions across Google’s range of advertising channels. This includes Search, Display, Discover, Maps, Gmail, and YouTube. This allows retailers to increase their presence across different ad formats.

Advertisers will set their own conversion goals to then be used by the automated bidding technology.

Take a deep dive into Performance Max

This campaign type promises more conversions by optimising ad performance in real-time and across all channels using Smart Bidding, Google’s AI-driven automated bidding, which is used in Smart Shopping campaigns.

Read more about how Google Smart Shopping works

Advertisers upload various assets appropriate to each channel, like images and video, and Google’s machine learning approach then tests which combinations work best for your campaigns. The intention is to have single-campaign optimisation across all advertising platforms. Targeting for these campaigns is based on Audience Signals, and is also dependent on your bid strategy.

What are the benefits of Performance Max?

Google’s new campaign type promises advantages over other offerings.

Performance Max hopes to increase online leads and conversions through the automated optimisation of budget and bids across all Google platforms. This could be more efficient than a generic search campaign.

With Google’s real-time data on shopper intent and preferences, Performance Max can help you discover new audience segments that you might’ve been unaware of. This can help you get your ads in front of more interested shoppers.

This new campaign type relies on creative assets supplied by advertisers. That means you can create assets that best suit your audience of shoppers, helping you take control of your ad campaigns.

Get started and set up your first Performance Max campaign

Performance Max features

As of February 23rd 2023, Google introduced some new features to Performance Max campaigns, with plans to roll out further features in the near future.

Here are the features that you can take advantage of:

  • Users can combine AI-powered Search with Performance Max to find new converting queries and maximise conversions across all of Google
  • Account-level negative keywords have been added, helping you maintain brand suitability across campaigns that serve on Search and Shopping. You can also exclude traffic you don’t want your ads to reach.
  • Campaign-level brand exclusions help you control which brands your campaign matches - this applies to Search and Shopping traffic.
  • Experiments will essentially give you a test run of how adding a new Performance Max campaign would affect conversions or conversion value.
  • A new video creation tool in the Assets section of the Performance Max campaign workflow allows for the creation of high-quality video assets.

Performance Max can be used alongside Bidnamic’s technology to help you outrank your competitors

What are the cons of Performance Max?

Much like Smart Shopping campaigns, Performance Max operates as a ‘black box’. While you get results on top-performing audiences, you don’t receive all the data that could be used to reach conclusive results to accurately inform campaign optimisation.

Data transparency is an important requirement for many advertisers

The ability to have single-campaign optimisation across all Google advertising channels is definitely a plus, but you gain almost no visibility on channel-specific performance and how the assets you provide are utilised. This makes it difficult to enact meaningful change to your campaigns or see how each channel is performing.

Since there’s no channel-specific performance for advertisers, you can’t be sure that your campaigns aren’t cannibalising your other campaigns. 

Unfortunately, Google hasn’t implemented any device modifiers and there isn’t any device-specific data on performance given to advertisers. This makes it hard to test campaigns to their fullest, and you have no way of comparing desktop and mobile.

When should you use Performance Max?

Performance Max would work well for advertisers looking to appear on all of Google’s advertising platforms, with the ability to access all of this from a single campaign. 

It’s also a good option for in-house advertisers, possibly for smaller businesses, looking to set up a simple Google campaign without needing to delve too much into strategy.

Given the drawbacks mentioned above, Performance Max doesn’t offer established retailers the same opportunities for growth as other campaign management options. Advertisers using Google’s automated bidding could miss out on valuable campaign data and may find it harder to compete within their market.

Bidnamic's technology can work alongside Performance Max to increase visibility without sacrificing revenue

For those using Google Smart Shopping, existing campaigns will be automatically converted to Performance Max campaigns in September 2022.

Performance Max vs Smart Shopping

Performance Max is set to replace Google Smart Shopping by the end of Q3 2022. Advertisers who haven’t already made the switch will automatically have their Smart Shopping campaigns converted to Performance Max campaigns.

Unlike Smart Shopping, Performance Max campaigns cover Google Maps and Discover platforms, giving your ads more visibility.

This new campaign type will have the same foundational features as Smart Shopping but will build on inventory and data insights given to advertisers, while still not giving advertisers access to all campaign data.

Since this new campaign type still doesn’t offer users full transparency and access to data, Performance Max may still not be the best option for retailers looking to fully optimise their advertising efforts.

If you’re looking for an automated solution to Google Shopping management with a human touch and a commitment to transparent data, book a demo with one of our specialists today.

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