Performance Max

5 things to know about transitioning from Smart Shopping to Performance Max

  • Aanchal Agrawal
  • |
  • 6 June , 2022
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    • 5 min read

Brands who advertise on Google will now have a campaign type that allows them to access the entire Google Ads inventory for a single campaign. 

Google announced late last year that Performance Max will replace Smart Shopping and Local campaigns in the later half of 2022.

This announcement was parallel to Google introducing this new service in November 2021 as a beta launch to allow brands to get a good grip of it without disrupting their existing campaigns. 

Marketers overall welcomed the new experience and will rely only on Performance Max to run their ad campaigns, replacing the tried-and-tested Smart Shopping.

But, what is Performance Max and what impact does it have for brands? Do also check out our D2C Centre of Excellence, D2Scale for more info.

About Performance Max Campaigns

The easiest way to describe what Performance Max is this: It’s like Smart Shopping but with greater access to Google Inventory across all channels. 

Earlier, brands that used Smart Shopping had to create separate campaigns and creatives to advertise across Search, YouTube, Display Network, and Gmail. However, with the introduction of this new service brands no longer need to put in as much effort to advertise across the board.

Performance Max campaigns extend Smart Shopping’s capability by enabling brands to also access Google’s Discover Feed and Maps, in addition to the aforementioned assets, in one single campaign. So, Google has created this new service to simplify a brand’s efforts to reach their target audience.

So, what kind of impact can brands expect to have using Performance Max? Let us look at some of the benefits of Performance Max.

    1. New Audiences

Performance Max allows brands to personalise their campaign goals that will better help their conversion numbers. This campaign type enables brands to interact with customers across a wider variety of Google channels, as mentioned earlier.  

This would allow them to leverage Google’s AI capabilities towards understanding consumer behaviour, which could help them unlock new audiences. 

    2. Improved performance

This is an extension of the previous benefit as Performance Max takes data into consideration while targeting the right audience. This could help push the audience further down the funnel into conversion. Thanks to its AI capabilities, Performance Max can make accurate predictions for brands regarding which ads resonate with their target audience.

    3. Better Insights

Performance Max insights give brands a better understanding of how their campaigns are being handled by the Google algorithm. Insights on audience segments, their reaction towards the creatives/images, video marketing, and more allows brands to further optimise their current and subsequent campaigns. 

It is integrated with GA4’s Insights Page, thereby giving companies the clarity on what is trending to ensure the campaigns are freshened up as and when required.

    4. Budget optimisation

When brands use Performance Max, it optimises their budget across the different channels the campaign is live on. 

Based on the specific goals and conversion metrics that brands input, Google’s machine learning capabilities will accordingly optimise the campaigns to help achieve the goals more efficiently.  

    5. Simplified campaign management 

Performance Max makes life simpler for brands since it enables launching multiple ads across the Google inventory without having to create different campaigns. Google says this helps boost ad performance without having to input multiple goals and criteria. This reduces time and stress for the campaign owner, since they don’t have to regularly tweak the multiple ads in a campaign thanks to its marketing automation.  

Best Practises

Brands need to conduct a few hygiene checks to extract the most out of their Performance Max campaigns. Some of the guidelines include:

    1) Choose the right conversion goals

Brands should select the right goals in their performance max campaign to better define what success means to them. If it is acquiring new customers then brands can easily define that by choosing the particular option in the Tools and Settings tab. 

Picking the right conversion goals helps better optimise campaigns at a faster rate and more importantly find new audiences.

    2) Choose the right budget and bid strategy

While Google Machine Learning will help optimise a brand’s campaign budget, brands should look at choosing the right strategy that will go a long way towards achieving those goals. 

Google uses Smart Bidding to optimise a brand’s conversion in real time, which allows their campaigns to improve conversions, conversion values, CPA and ROAS. 

    3) Optimise the creative Asset Group

When brands add creative assets to their different assets groups, Performance Max will automatically categorise them according to themes. These assets will then accordingly be allocated to different channels based on the relevant theme of the asset. 

This ensures a brand’s ads are more meaningful to their relevant audience, which could help drive conversions or any other specific campaign goal.

The trick is to add as many iterations of the assets as possible to your group. This is because the more assets are available, Performance Max can create more ads across the different channels. 

Check out Google’s full list of best practices for a Performance Max campaign.

42% increase in sales for a B2C brand - A Case Study

Social Beat deployed Performance Max for a D2C client, which is an online marketplace that wanted to scale up their order numbers outside of the search network. The approach for this goal was simple:

Audience Signals: The strategy was all about targeting the right lower funnel audience signals such as Remarketing lists, Converters, Similar to Converters, Add2cart Audience, Customer Match Audiences and Custom Intent. 

Budget and Bid Strategy: We learnt from Google’s Machine Learning insights and accordingly used the maximise conversions bidding strategy to increase the conversion signals

Features: We used URL expansion to redirect users to the most relevant landing page, which improved CTR and reach

Asset Groups: We created theme-based asset groups based on offers (medicine, healthcare, Christmas, New Year) and products (covid essentials, immunity boosters, sanitizers). 

Creatives Optimisation: We then refreshed the assets based on their performance that allowed the asset to maintain its strength.

On the back of the above strategy, this D2C brand experienced tangible positive results such as:

  • 42% Increase in sales
  • 29% Lower Cost per sale
  • 20% Increase in ROI

Brands will have to embrace the fact that Performance Max campaigns are going to be the new normal in the world of programmatic advertising. It will be quite the paradigm shift from the campaign types that brands are currently using.

However, there is no reason for brands to fear since this new offering has so many benefits that will help them rise to the impossible. Google takes the tried and tested Smart Shopping’s formula and multiplies the capabilities in Performance Max to ensure that brands get the best out of their campaigns; all this while reducing time and efforts.

So, while some brands might fear that automation would translate to lesser control, Google’s Machine Learning module is intelligent enough to work alongside them, not against.