In July 2022, any and all Smart Shopping campaigns will be automatically upgraded into a Performance Max campaign, with the same happening in August for Local campaigns – but what is Performance Max? Is this update to be embraced or dreaded?
This article will give you a brief run down on what a Performance Max campaign is, why you should start running one, what real world results we have seen from a Performance Max campaign, and the downsides we’ve discovered during our trials and tribulations.
What Is Performance Max?
In November of 2021, Google Ad’s announced its new automated child: Performance Max. Bravely touted as the next generation of Smart Shopping & Local campaigns, Performance Max uses automation to combine headlines, descriptions, images, and videos to create engaging adverts across the Google-sphere. Using this campaign, you can expect your ads to show across YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail & Maps. The best part is, Google will mix & match all assets you’ve provided it across channels – no longer will you have to waste time making a bunch of different ads tailored to each platform or spend hours evaluating & optimising which assets are best suited where.
Why Use Performance Max?
Aside from Smart Shopping campaigns being automatically updated into Performance Max campaigns in July 2022, Google promoted two notable reasons why Google marketers should embrace this campaign:
1. Increase conversions & value: The automated aspect of this campaign allows for continuous budget optimisation across channels & aids in capturing new conversion opportunities in real time.
2. Find new customers: Using Google’s real-time understanding of user intent and behaviour, Performance Max claims to appear in the perfect moment with the most relevant ad.
Our Findings So Far
At the start of this year, we decided to build a Performance Max campaign as a solution for a particular client that had been struggling with their Smart Shopping campaign for some time. Though Smart Shopping would continue to bring in a healthy conversion volume, we were finding the CPA often fluctuated above where they liked to see it despite trying a variety of different tips & tricks. For reference, the lowest monthly CPA we saw on Smart Shopping was £11.95 (with 76 conversions), and the highest £45.93 (with 5 conversions).
In the 2 and a half months we have been running Performance Max for this client, the highest we have seen the monthly CPA reach is £9.20 – a 23% reduction on even the previous lowest Smart Shopping CPA. In this space of time, we have managed to more than halve CPA, double conversions, and slash our average CPC despite Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and two price increases.
The Downsides of Performance Max
Though we’re loving the results of this Performance Max campaign so far, one of the most frustrating things about this campaign type is the lack of insight and data analysis available – despite Google declaring Performance Max would give “richer insight”. They claimed these insights would help you understand how their automation works to improve your campaigns, but the reality is the most insight you will gain is whether the assets you have provided are “Good”, “Best”, or “Low”. Considering the depth of data available to analyse from all other campaign types, the extremely limited level of insight available is rather aggravating to a marketer dedicating their life to learn the secrets to a successful PPC account. Google – please give us something, anything other than ‘good’, ‘best’ or ‘low’!
While the lack of insight into this campaign type evokes emotions that border on infuriation, the data doesn’t lie. Whatever it is that Google’s automation is doing behind the scenes, it clearly works. With only 3 months left until Google forces anyone with a Smart Shopping (or Local) campaign to jump ship to Performance Max, it is well worth testing the waters now before you are pushed overboard. You can read more about Performance Max here, and discover Google’s best practices here.
If the thought of complete automation does fill you with absolute horror, rest assured that Standard Shopping campaigns will continue to run as normal – though, Performance Max will certainly save you from the faff of monitoring those search term reports.