Performance Max or Google PMax is set to replace Smart Shopping and Local campaigns in 2022. Are you ready?
Leading eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce are already hard at work to support Google PMax’s new inventory insights and formats.
While building on Smart Shopping and Local campaign features, new Performance Max campaigns offer new features, including inventory and automation insights.
All online merchants and eCommerce partners will be able to upgrade their Smart Shopping and Local campaigns through the Google Ads API later this year. (You can read more about this on Google’s developer blog.)
So, with PMax coming, how can eCommerce marketers ensure they are ready?
By following this Google Performance Max guide and implementing key Google PMax upgrade and optimization hacks.
In this post, we take you everything you need to know about Performance Max campaigns and upgrades. Including:
- What Is Google Performance Max
- How Do Performance Max Campaigns Work
- Performance Max Requirements and Eligibility
- Key Milestones: When and How to Upgrade to Google PMax
- Google Performance Max Campaign Features
- Google Performance Max Campaign Best Practices
Google PMax: Everything You Need to Know
1. What Is Google Performance Max
Performance Max is a goal-based campaign type that uses automation and machine learning to reach potential shoppers with the most relevant ad.
Ultimately, Performance Max campaigns have been developed by Google to increase conversions across their entire advertising and inventory channels. In short: they use automation to create a holistic omnichannel Google experience.
Google Performance Max Stats
Let’s take a quick look at some stats that back up the need for the Google Ads Performance Max upgrades:
- More than half of 2021 holiday shoppers (54%) used at least five channels, such as video and social media, to shop over a two-day period.
- Advertisers who upgraded Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max (during Beta testing) saw a 12% average increase in conversion value while matching or bettering their Google Ads ROAS.
This new Google Ads automation is designed to help advertisers to reach shoppers as they browse multiple channels for things they love, online and in stores. Ultimately, it creates a more omnichannel shopping experience that will boost ROAS.
2. How Do Performance Max Campaigns Work
Building on performance features of Smart Shopping and Local campaigns, Google PMax will include new inventory and automation insights features. These features will enable stores to boost omnichannel sales by “unlocking all of Google’s ad inventory from a single campaign with a product feed.”
Marketers will be able to transform their Video ads into a digital storefront while highlighting their top products on YouTube – right where valuable customers are watching relevant video content every day.
According to Google, Performance Max will help eCommerce marketers achieve their goals in four main ways:
- Increasing conversions and value
- Reaching new customers
- Adding PPC automation
- Accessing richer insights
In a nutshell: After upgrading to Google’s Performance Max you will have access to additional inventory and formats across YouTube, Search text ads, and Discover. Here are the top benefits.
Google Performance Max Benefits
According to Google, benefits of Performance Max upgrades include that it:
- Simplifies eCommerce Google campaign management and optimization
- Offers more transparent insights
- Reaches new audiences across Google’s channels and network
- Drives better performance against goals
- Uses campaign inputs to steer automation
3. Performance Max Requirements and Eligibility
Before we get into more detail on role-out, benefits, features, and optimization of Performance Max campaigns, let’s discuss eligibility and requirements.
As it stands now, Google lists the following eligibility and requirements for retailers with a Merchant Center feed who want to create PMax campaigns:
- In Europe: Performance Max campaigns can be used with any Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) a brand works with.
- Advertisers will be able to create up to 100 Performance Max campaigns, with Google suggesting marketers consolidate where possible.
- Any eCommerce marketer with a Merchant Center feed can create Performance Max campaigns. Additionally, those with established feeds will not need to add creatives to the campaign Asset group.
Additionally, according to Google, Performance Max is the best option for marketers when:
- Marketers want to be able to reach all of Google’s channels from a single campaign.
- Brands want to maximize campaign performance and ensure they are not limited by specific channels.
- Store advertisers have set specific advertising and conversion goals.
- Marketers are looking for additional reach and conversion value beyond keyword-based search campaigns.
4. Key Milestones: When and How to Upgrade to Google PMax
Select retailers have been able to create and test campaigns since January 2022. Starting in April of this year, upgrades will be available to most advertisers and will include new features.
Here is the expected rollout for Google Performance Max and its important milestones.
Let’s take a closer look at each.
January – March 2023: Creating New Campaigns with Performance Max
New Google campaigns can be created using Performance Max. With these campaigns, marketers have access to inventory that’s already available in Smart Shopping and Local campaigns, as well as the new inventory and formats across YouTube, Search text ads, and Discover.
Note: While rolling out, marketers can continue using their Local and Smart Shopping campaigns until they’ve fully upgraded by the third quarter of 2022.
April 2022: Upgrade Smart Shopping with Google’s “One-Click” Tool
Google’s “one-click” tool will enable Google Ads marketers to upgrade specific, selected Smart Shopping campaigns or all your campaigns at once.
Note: To maintain consistent performance, existing campaign learnings will be mitigated to new Performance Max campaigns.
Google’s “one-click” tool will be available at two timepoints:
- From April, Google will make its new “one-click” tool available to marketers wanting to upgrade their Smart Shopping campaigns in Google Ads.
- From June, marketers will be able to do the same with Local campaigns.
This month, Google is expected to host a webinar that will dive into the specifics of their “one-click” tool in more detail. You can sign up for an email to get a summary sent to your inbox here.
July 2022: Upgrade Automation
The last rollout milestone for Google PMax upgrades is automation. At this point, marketers will not be able to create Smart Shopping and Local campaigns once all campaigns have been automatically upgraded.
- Over the third quarter, from July through to September, Google will start to automatically upgrade all Smart Shopping campaigns.
- Local campaigns will be automatically upgraded from August 2022.
This process will be finished by September 2022, ensuring marketers will be able to use Performance Max for their 2022 Holiday Shopping Google PPC Strategy.
Pro Tip: For eCommerce marketers who want a little more control over the Performance Max upgrade, beyond using the “one-click” tool, you may want to opt for creating new Performance Max campaigns now. Additionally, if you’re not using a PPC management service like Traffic Booster, now is the time to invest.
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5. Google Performance Max Campaign Features
Because Performance Max campaigns are built off existing Smart Shopping and Local campaigns, existing campaign settings will stay the same. This will make the Google PMax changeover seamless.
Having said that, Google PMax campaigns will have a few pro upgrades and changes we’re excited about. These include:
- Audience Signals: PMax campaigns use inputted audience signals to unlock new customer segments, boosted with Google’s real-time understanding of consumer intents and preferences.
- URL Expansion: Replacing final URLs with relevant landing pages, URL expansions help marketers optimize performance Performance Max campaigns.
- Ad Inventory: Ad inventory will be added across the YouTube, Search, and Discovery networks for Google, and new ad inventory options will be available for each campaign.
- Automation Insights: Performance Max campaigns come with new reports and insights that include machine learning and signal accomplishments that can be used to optimize your eCommerce marketing strategy.
- Asset Groups: Performance Max asset groups include a set of ad assets marketers use to create a campaign, such as campaign images, logos, headlines, descriptions, videos, and audience signals.
To sum up: When it comes to Performance Max, marketers will need to do these things when creating PMax campaigns – if you’re not using Google Ads automation, that is:
- Allocate and include audience signals
- Add additional assets to your campaign asset group
- Select the proper budget and bid strategy
6. Google Performance Max Campaign Best Practices
Now that you know what PMax campaigns are, when they will be implemented, and how to create them, let’s talk optimization.
The most critical aspect of creating high-performing Performance Max campaigns is assets. This includes creatives and Signals.
- When it comes to creatives, the more you have allocated, the more relevant ads Google will be able to create automatically.
- Audience signals ensure PMax campaigns are optimized in real-time and are vital for the success of your campaigns.
Additionally, we suggest the following Google Ads best practices and considerations when it comes to creating your Performance Max campaigns the right way.
- Visuals matter; refresh creatives.
- When creating your first Performance Max campaigns, use current performance audiences (such as remarketing lists, Custom Intent, Customer Match) as Signals.
- Marketers should use as many assets and relevant audience Signals as possible.
- When building Asset groups, you want to ensure your image assets meet Google’s highest quality guidelines and that all assets are related to a single theme.
- More assets will mean more potential ad formats that can be created for different channels and users.
- Your bid and budget strategies should be in sync. If your target CPA is too high and your daily budget is too low, it will be almost impossible to scale your Google marketing.
- New Performance Max campaigns should run for at least six weeks to ensure you have enough data to compare performance metrics and tweak where necessary.
- To track results across channels or devices, opt for Google Ads Conversion tracking over Google Analytics conversion imports.
Here is a breakdown of how Google’s Performance Max should be integrated with other Google campaign types:
Final Thoughts: There Is No eCommerce Long-Term Growth Without PPC Automation
Performance Max upgrades are coming, and with them, more Google Ads PPC automation.
There is no getting around it: PPC automation is now more vital than ever in competing in the eCommerce space. This is not just about ensuring your PPC marketing is up-to-date and streamlined, but vital to your marketing’s success.
If you can’t track and optimize in real-time when the market is shifting almost daily, you’re going to be left behind. And any automation leg-up you can take, the better.
The key is finding the balance between manual control (bids, budget, and messaging tweaks) and automation (real-time tracking and optimization).
And Performance Max is the next step to achieving just that with Google Ads.
Now is the time to manually test these new campaigns so that when the roll-out arrives, you are ready.
And it shouldn’t stop there! You should be automating all your PPC marketing, including TikTok ads, Google Ads campaigns, and Facebook ads for eCommerce!
Traffic Booster is the only eCommerce-focused full PPC management software that will create, manage, and optimize your campaigns in real-time for peak performance. It is far more than just an alternative to WordStream, offering machine-learning campaign optimization and marketing expert assistance.
You can find out more about choosing the right plan to suit your budget and business needs here.
Nicole is a content writer at StoreYa with over sixteen years experience and flair for storytelling. She runs on a healthy dose of caffeine and enthusiasm. When she’s not researching the next content trend or creating informative small business content, she’s an avid beachgoer, coffee shop junkie and hangs out on LinkedIn.
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