If you’re starting to prep for the seasonal holiday rush on Google Performance Max, you may notice some changes to the platform since 2022. This blog post will catch you up on some of the advantages and disadvantages of Performance Max in 2023 so you know the ins and outs, get the most out of your campaigns, and successfully drive profit for your business throughout this holiday season and beyond.
An advertiser’s guide to the best (and worst) Performance Max features for seasonal holidays Google Ads prep
Like most things in paid search, success is a function of finding the right balance between capabilities and deficiencies; what works for one advertiser may not work for another. Solving for this challenge is one of the most enjoyable parts of working in this industry.
We’ll shed some light on our expert team’s collective experiences with Performance Max below. As new features are added regularly, keep in mind that this list is current as of October 2023.
What Happened to Google Smart Shopping Ads?
Let’s quickly address an elephant in the room: The switch from Smart Shopping Ads to Performance Max. Back in 2022, Google began to migrate Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max.
All the details of this Google Shopping Ads update, including FAQs, can be read here.
Advantages of Using Google Performance Max
From our expert team’s collective experiences managing our customers’ Performance Max campaigns, we have found the following advantages of using this Google Ads campaign type:
- Audience signals. Make use of in-market and remarketing audiences, in addition to search terms or purchase intent terms, to create audience signals for Performance Max. Google uses audience signals to inform its machine learning algorithm to target to users the right ad asset. Because this feature is unique to Google smart campaigns (i.e., those that use its machine learning algorithm), it currently doesn’t exist elsewhere in Google Ads.
- New customer acquisition goal. Performance Max has built-in features aimed towards optimizing spend for new customers. For customers that provide customer status by order, we find that the results are not as great as Google claims, but you may find it to be a handy feature in both Performance Max and Search.
Disadvantages of Running Google Performance Max Campaigns
On the other hand, we have observed many more disadvantages to running Performance Max campaigns—especially as they relate to managing profit-driven advertising for eCommerce brands.
- There is no search term reporting available, and Performance Max “Insights” reporting leaves a lot to be desired. There is a measurable value on search term reporting, so not having it does lend itself to creating inefficiency.
- Placement reporting for clicks, spend, revenue, etc. does not exist for Performance Max campaigns, and therefore creates a missed opportunity. Before loopholes were closed, we saw examples of egregious inefficient spend across video and display placements.
- Performance Max only allows advertisers to run 100 campaigns per account.
- With most Performance Max campaign tests, we generally observe a spike in inefficient ad spend.
- Performance Max is a strategic priority for Google. We have observed Google representatives claim wins for Performance Max, while split testing shows the opposite. We have found Performance Max does provide a lift for some advertisers, and a regression for others, which is why we recommend testing this campaign type before “diving all in.”
- Generally, there are not enough levers available to pull to ensure annual growth with Performance Max. This is another key reason why we suggest testing this campaign type first before committing to it 100%. At Omnitail, if tests report positive findings for your brand, we then recommend incorporating Performance Max as part of a strategic marketing mix, but not being the entire marketing strategy.
- Measuring incremental value on ad spend is not possible. The lack of insight into remarketing vs Search spend is a good example of this.
- Performance Max was developed from cannibalizing existing Google Ads campaign types, so a well strategized testing structure is very important.
Use Cases & Recommendations
- Harvest converting search terms into audience signals. We have observed targeting is more focused and efficient with this feature.
- Test low-volume products in Performance Max while simultaneously keeping them eligible in Standard Shopping. While Performance Max will take priority, there is no need to alter your existing Standard Shopping campaign structure to do this.
For the latest Google Ads and Performance Max updates from our expert team, subscribe to our blog below. Or, if you need help preparing your account and setting you up for success this holiday shopping season, reach out to speak to an analyst today.