What You Need to Know About the Switch to Performance Max

Performance Max (also referred to as PMax) is the new campaign type that is replacing Google Smart Shopping. The switch to Performance Max will happen for all Smart Shopping campaigns by the end of September 2022.

PMax is designed to drive elevated ad performance by giving you the ability to access your entire Google Ads inventory from a single, easy-to-manage campaign. It empowers your brand to engage with new audiences across all of Google’s channels and networks, including YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps

Performance Max campaigns have a 12% higher conversion value than Smart Shopping campaigns at the same or better ROAS, according to Google.

In this article, you’ll uncover the answers to questions like:

  • What is Performance Max?
  • How does Performance Max work?
  • How are my Search campaigns leveraged by Performance Max?
  • How do creative assets work in Performance Max?
  • What can I expect from the switch to Performance Max?

Let’s get started!

What Is Performance Max?

Performance Max gives you the ability to:

  • Maximize your overall brand presence
  • Expand your reach beyond keyword-based Search campaigns
  • Achieve specific, customizable advertising and conversion goals
  • Access all of Google’s ad channels with one campaign
  • Grow your conversion value beyond keyword-based Search campaigns

This goal-based campaign type complements your keyword-based Search campaigns to help you find more interested shoppers across all of Google’s channels. It combines Google’s Smart Bidding and automation technologies across bidding, budget optimization, audiences, creatives, attribution, and more.

Performance Max optimizes performance in real-time to increase your ad profitability and drive more valuable conversions.

Highlights of Performance Max include:

  • Leverages data-driven attribution models to optimize in real-time for even the most incremental touchpoints along the path to purchase
  • Maximizes your campaign performance by serving the right ad to the right customer at the right time based on your defined business goals and KPIs
  • Provides transparent reporting about your creative asset performance so that you can optimize your creative assets and increase ad profitability
  • Generates insights about customer intents and preferences to help you understand changes in performance and develop a well-informed paid advertising strategy

The automation that fuels PMax is powered by your unique business goals, creative assets, audience signals (including customer data), and optional data feeds. You provide creative assets like high-quality text, images, and video, and Performance Max leverages machine learning to make accurate predictions about the ads, audiences, and creative combinations that will perform based on the goals you input.

Audience signals allow you to add audience suggestions and can be customized granularly with demographics and additional segments, such as custom segments based on search term. They’re an optional component of Performance Max, but they can be immensely useful in showing Google’s machine learning models how to drive more conversions.

Other capabilities offered by Performance Max include:

  • Ad scheduling to set the number of days and/or hours your ad will appear (e.g. only during business hours)
  • Campaign URL options to customize your final URL in your tracking template
  • Final URL expansion that replaces the URL you provide with a more relevant landing page and relevant dynamic headline based on user intent (note: This feature won’t work if you only select in-store goals)

Performance Max also provides brand safety settings so that you can control what content your ads appear next to.

Google recommends consolidating your Performance Max campaigns where possible for the best performance, but you can create up to 100 Performance Max campaigns in your Google Ads account.

How Does Performance Max Work?

You tell Performance Max the average amount you want to spend on your ads each day, including a monthly limit to help balance out the days when you have high traffic and low traffic. You can tell it to bid based on target cost per action (CPA) (focused on driving conversions) or target return on ad spend (ROAS) (focused on the value of your conversions). Your campaign goals will automatically prepopulate when you first construct your campaign, but you can replace any irrelevant goals with your own.

Google recommends that you set your average daily budget at 3x your cost per action or ROAS. You’re able to change this number at any time.

If different conversions have different worth to your business (e.g. online sales vs. in-store sales), you can set different values for those conversions in PMax and the smart automation will optimize toward the goals that drive the highest return. As you’re getting set up in PMax, you’ll get notifications about how you can proactively optimize your campaigns.

Performance Max also offers advanced location targeting that allows you to create a radius around a specific location that you’d like to target. You can select languages and locations to include or exclude on a high level.

How Does Performance Max Leverage My Search Campaigns?

If you already have Search ads running through Google, Performance Max will respect your current keyword targeting. It also works with Search campaigns so that if a user searches for a keyword that you’ve already identified, the Search campaign will be prioritized over Performance Max. If a user searches for a keyword that doesn’t match a keyword you’ve already identified or if the keyword is ineligible for Search, then the user will see the campaign or ad with the highest Ad Rank!

How Do Creative Assets Work in Performance Max?

If you use a Merchant Center feed for your Google ads, you don’t technically need to supply any creative assets to launch with Performance Max and Google an auto-generate ads for you. However, Google recommends that brands do provide creative assets for optimal cross-channel performance.

Assets that can be uploaded through Performance Max include images, logos, videos, headlines, long headlines, descriptions, call to actions, and ad URLs. Google recommends adding up to 15 unique images. For logos, videos, headlines, long headlines, and descriptions, Google recommends adding up to five.

You only need to create one asset group to launch your Performance Max campaign; you can add additional assets later. If you don’t upload your own video, it will either be automatically generated or you can create a video using the Google Ads video creation tool.

An asset group in Performance Max is made up of the creative assets and audience signals that you upload. Asset groups can be created based on themes or the audience that you want to target. The assets are then automatically displayed based on where your ad is shown as well as the targeting and goals that you select.

What Can I Expect From the Switch to Performance Max?

If your Smart Shopping campaigns haven’t been converted to Performance Max yet, they will be automatically upgraded by the end of September 2022. Google started the process of upgrading accounts in July.

You’ll know your campaigns have been converted when you see a banner that says “Your campaigns have been upgraded.” You’ll also see a “Performance Max (Upgraded)” notification in Google Merchant Center when you’re reviewing your campaign. Both paused and active campaigns will be converted.

Unlike the GA4 transition, there’s nothing you need to do to prepare your account for the switch. You will still be able to view historical data for your Smart Shopping campaigns after they’ve been converted to Performance Max.

Be aware that you won’t be able to make any changes to your campaigns while they’re being upgraded. The process will take a few minutes to a day per campaign depending on how many campaigns are being converted at once. You can receive status updates from the Ad Campaigns page in the Merchant Center. It won’t be possible to switch back to Smart Shopping once your campaign has been upgraded to Performance Max.

When you go into your Google Ads account and create a new campaign, Performance Max will be an option if you select Sales, Leads, Website traffic, or Local store visits and promotions as your advertising objective. You can also select the option to create a campaign without a goal’s guidance.

Performance Max works for brands with brick and mortar stores, too – just select Local contacts or Directions as a conversion goal!

Google recommends a waiting window of one to two weeks to evaluate your Performance Max campaign.

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Tying It All Together

The smart automation offered by the switch to Performance Max will make it easier for you to develop conversion-driving Google Ads campaigns. But the most profitable marketing strategies leverage the intelligence of machine learning combined with the intelligence of diligent humans with deep knowledge of your brand. At ROI Revolution, we pride ourselves on working as an extension of your team to exceed your goals. Reach out to our experts today to discover untapped opportunities for profitable growth with not only your paid search campaigns but also social media, website optimization, and omnichannel strategy.

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