What you need to know about Google’s Performance Max campaign type


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Here’s what we’ve learnt from 6 months of using and testing Google Performance Max campaign type

In case you missed it, Performance Max (aka pMax) is Google’s latest ad format that will soon replace Smart Shopping and Local Campaigns.

This is Google’s first serious step into an Omnichannel world, with pMax campaigns using the power of Google’s Machine Learning to serve ads across all the major Google platforms – Discover, Display, Gmail, Maps, Search, Shopping, Local and YouTube all from a single campaign type.

With this change, Smart Shopping and Local Campaigns are set to be replaced by Performance Max campaigns by the end of September 2022.

This will be a big change, especially for eComm businesses relying on Smart Shopping campaigns as retailers will no longer have full control over where their ads are shown.

Ads will no longer just be limited to Shopping ads or Remarketing ads, and can take many forms over the 7 channels listed above.

“Based on early testing, advertisers who upgrade Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max see an average increase of 12% in conversion value at the same or better return on ad spend (ROAS),” according to Google. However, results can vary, so it may be worthwhile to start testing ahead of the forced transition deadline.

What does it mean for you and your business?

This is a significant change to how Smart Shopping and Local campaigns work. It also impacts ad creatives and the way retailers manage and structure Google ads accounts.

Extensive test results run internally here at WebSavvy show Performance Max can deliver promising results and in many cases better than traditional Smart shopping campaigns. But it’s not perfect and sometimes will perform worse.

We are also seeing a small albeit noticeable shift in conversions moving from Search, Shopping, Video and Display campaigns towards Performance Max – so while the overall account results are consistent or better, individual campaigns can be cannibalized by the new pMax campaigns.

For Brands that prefer control over reporting and creative, Google is still supporting Standard Shopping campaigns.

Learn more at https://blog.google/products/ads-commerce/performance-max/

In short, pMax is the evolution of Smart campaigns and Google’s use of Machine Learning. We firmly expect the ‘black box’ approach to stay & changes to other existing campaign types are likely. 

Why is Google doing this when so many advertisers are complaining? 

Because Google fundamentally believe that the user journey is too complicated for a human to understand. Or put another way, too complicated to be represented in data that can be easily understood and acted upon.

They believe there is no such thing anymore as ‘the best ad’, but rather they’re trying to serve the best ad for that person in that particular moment given everything the machine knows about all the little steps that have led to this moment.

The upside, you no longer have to spend hours and hours tweaking bids and downloading data to spreadsheets. The machine is really really good at bidding to the outcomes we give it. And giving it data that’s different to, or better than your competitors can give you a real edge.

The downside, we no longer have all the data we need to second-guess or even check the machine is doing what we’ve asked. We just have to trust it.   

The Good

  • pMax is designed for a multi-touch, omnichannel world
  • Smart Shopping and Local campaigns have access to new inventory – Google Search Text ads, Discovery Ads, YouTube Ads, Maps
  • High level aggregate search terms data for Smart Shopping

Potential Obstacles

  • While it’s great for Smart Shopping and Local campaigns opening up to new inventory and control. it’s a black box for the other channels (Discovery, Display, YouTube, Google Search).
  • No choice of device, control of channel, very high level aggregated search query data as opposed to detailed search terms reports, minimal audience and reporting data

Interested to know how Performance Max can help your account?

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