How to maximize your ecommerce campaigns with Performance Max

Last Updated on January 19, 2023 by Admin


Google’s launch of Performance Max, a campaign type that replaced Smart Shopping, is forcing search marketers to rethink their Google Ads strategy.

Performance Max provides a unified buying service to all Google placements by displaying ads across YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Maps and Gmail. 

This full-funnel advertising of products is what PMax does well, especially when it comes to products with a lot of data. 

However, PPC managers should consider the cost share for non-converting products, which can possibly be higher compared to standard Shopping campaigns. 

An analysis we conducted in August 2022 shows a cost share of 33% for non-converting products in PMax campaigns compared to a cost share of 23% in Standard Shopping campaigns. 

August 2022 - PMax vs. Shopping campaigns

In order to bridge the disadvantages of PMax, it is essential to pay attention to the campaign setup. The right data is the prerequisite for campaign segmentation.

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PMax signifies a switch away from classic bidding

The only steering possibility PMax offers is to change the campaign-level ROAS goals and adjust the budget. This also means that inventory with specific ROAS targets should be treated adequately and set up as separate PMax campaigns. 

If you follow a margin-specific ROAS approach (e.g., ROAS goal of 10 for low-margin products, ROAS goal of 7 for mid-margin products and ROAS goal of 5 for high-margin products) you will ideally set up three campaigns. 

Other options to cluster campaigns are:

  • Performance data (ROAS of the last 30 days)
  • Inventory parameters (stock levels, new items, promotions)
  • Competition insights (price competitiveness, number of competitors)
  • Basket insights (order openers, items frequently bought together)

Remember that the data you choose for the campaign structure should reflect your overall business goals. 

If, for some reason, you need more steering possibilities for certain products, then consider testing a hybrid approach consisting of one or more PMax and Standard Shopping campaigns. 

Make sure that the products covered by each campaign type do not overlap.

The possibilities you have with asset groups

The asset group setup should follow a clear structure, for example, based on the webshop navigation. 

If you are a fashion retailer and only have a few categories, you may consider splitting them again into gender (and kids) to be more precise in addressing the audience. The maximum amount of asset groups you can use within a campaign is 100.

Make sure to use expressive creatives which represent your asset group and catch the user’s attention. Assets should be checked for relevance, especially when it comes to seasonal changes. 

For example, uploaded pictures showing the winter assortment should be exchanged in summer with pictures of t-shirts and shorts. Also, the text assets can be adapted for more fitting wording.

One of the main features within asset groups is audience signals. By enriching those, you can provide additional user information for the algorithm. 

PMax asset groups

An efficient way of adding relevant terms to the custom segments is by copying and pasting the related product types from your shopping feed attributes. The more information and terms you can provide, the better.

Brand traffic separation

If you want to keep the brand traffic in your search brand campaigns, you can try excluding the webshop’s landing page URL in the settings of your PMax campaigns. 

By doing so, the probability of being displayed for brand searches decreases and, naturally, the traffic shifts to your search brand campaigns. 

In addition, negative keywords can be added to PMax campaigns. Unfortunately, this is not possible through the Google Ads UI but has to be requested from Google. 

Testing opportunities for finding the optimal setup

As previously mentioned, the possibility of running a hybrid approach (PMax and Standard Shopping) can be considered when starting with PMax. This lets you use both the full-funnel advertising approach of PMax and the steering and reporting possibilities of Standard Shopping.

Another testing approach is to set up a shopping-only PMax campaign by connecting the feed, without inserting any assets. You might encounter an error message when creating a new campaign following this approach. 

Try to first set up and save a “normal” asset group that contains all assets. Afterward, you should be able to create a shopping-only asset group. This approach is not recommended by Google. However, it might be worth a try to split the shopping and search traffic in this way.

As PMax is a rather new and intransparent campaign type, it will need more time and tests to figure out the optimal setup.

Watch: Maximize your ecommerce campaigns with Performance Max

Below is the complete video of my SMX Next presentation.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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About the author

Ivana Dukic

Ivana Dukic has three years of working experience in marketing, particularly in the field of PPC. Before she started her professional career, she was studying Global Sales & Marketing and Digital Business Management. As a customer success manager, she works closely with retailers from various industries and supports them in improving their SEA channel performance. Specifically, her focus lies on the setup and optimization of Google Ads campaigns. Especially with the introduction of new Google Ads specifications and campaign types, just like the launch of Performance Max, those activities are gaining in importance.


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