There’s a right way, and a wrong way to set up Google Ads Performance Max. This quick guide will help get you started setting it up the right way.
First thing’s first, what is Performance Max, and why do we use it?
Known affectionately as ‘PMax’ by marketers, the campaign type is basically a one-stop-shop that displays ads across all of Google’s channels and is designed to complement your keyword-based Search campaigns to help you find more converting customers. Included in its repertoire is:
- Discover feed
You may notice 2 omissions from the list above, but worry not, in the not so distant future, Smart Shopping and Local campaigns will be depreciated and rolled into PMax.
Smart Shopping shows ecommerce retailers success, but PMax lifts it to another level. While it acts like a Smart Shopping campaign, adding additional placements and reach, the key difference is that it allows retargeting and prospecting display ads to be layered on top. Search and Display alone can make it hard to achieve and deliver a certain amount of scale and efficiency that PMax easily can. Another difference is that Performance Max can be used for eCommerce and lead generation.
Upgrade in one click
We suggest using the ‘one-click’ upgrade (in the Recommendations tab) tool when you’ve been using Smart Shopping for your campaigns. The use of this tool makes it easy to sync the campaign’s historical performance in the background of PMax, which, in turn, enables PMax to get off on the right foot immediately.
If you made the choice not to upgrade early, most Smart Shopping campaigns will be automatically upgraded between July and September, and your Local campaigns will be automatically upgraded between August and September.
We have seen that auto upgrade notifications have started coming into accounts now and the info we have from Google is it’ll happen 60 days after the notification first appears. But all the notifications at the moment just say ‘soon’, which isn’t as helpful as it could be.
The Smart Shopping and Local campaigns are automatically updated to the ‘Removed’ status after the upgrade to PMax. While you won’t be able to edit or reactivate these campaigns, you will still have access to the historical data found in your Google Ads account.
Head of Paid Media, Will Dixon has advised the following:
On Performance Max for Retail – We have been and we’d suggest that everyone upgrades themselves as soon as possible now, this allows the asset control to be fully in your own hands and easy monitoring of the before and after the upgrade. When Performance Max was first in beta for lead-gen it provided some really amazing CPAs which then increased as it became universally available. There is no reason that this wouldn’t happen again and therefore getting in early to take advantage of those efficient first few months / weeks is key – and once the forced migration happens you’ll have a more mature campaign.
We were quite skeptical about the ability to transfer over the historical data, but we’ve seen it happen really smoothly and continue on the same performance fluctuations that we’d seen prior. i.e. if there was a slightly low ROAS the week before upgrade, this was reacted to by a slightly high one the week after even with the campaign transition.
The foundations of a solid structure
We suggest condensing as much as possible, rather than unnecessarily splitting campaigns for location targeting or budget allocation, to allow the system more data signals to reach optimal performance.
Mike Ryan, from Smarter eCommerce designed a chart (below) for campaign structure ideas, and has advised that the important part of any structure is continuous improvement.
5 nuggets of additional information
- Once your campaigns are automatically upgraded, you’ll no longer be able to create new Smart Shopping or Local campaigns.
- Performance Max relies heavily on both bidding and targeting automation so make sure to use tools like enhanced conversions, offline conversion tracking, CRM integration, etc.
- PMax has URL expansion on as its default. This means that the campaign has permission to send users (and therefore prospects) to landing pages other than your final URL… unless you turn it off.
- Remember to include at least one video asset – if you don’t provide any video assets, then Google Ads will create them for you, and while we’re sure the templates will get better, they can be clunky and leave a lot to be desired.
- Refrain from duplicating your Merchant Center feed imagery as assets, this is due to PMax using your feed’s information to create ads (if you connect the feed that is).
We’ll be keeping an eye on any updates to PMax, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter be kept in the loop!