Since 2021, Google’s Performance Max has been transitioning into Google Shopping Ads.

Is Performance Max Best For Shopping?

For the past year, we have been dipping our toes into Performance Max and now that Google Shopping ads have transferred over to this format, we’re learning the nuances of Google’s newest machine learning campaign type at scale.

We have tested Performance Max for lead generation and were disappointed in the results (even with full-funnel attention to detail). We find that Google Display, Video and Search Ads provide a better Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) for lead generation.

Performance Max, in its current form, is best for shopping without the tight control over keywords.

Our Performance Max campaigns for multiple ecommerce properties have increased sales volume, while keeping business profitable. Let’s take a look at our top 5 performance tips when using Performance Max ad sets.

Lakeside Marketing provides PPC advertising services to businesses of all sizes

Lakeside Marketing provides PPC advertising services to businesses of all sizes.

Getting Conversion Tracking Right

Use the Google Tag and Merchant Center teams to help with conversion tracking. They will help you get up and running faster than trying to do it yourself. During your session, you’ll share screens to install the conversion tracking codes. After completing the task, have the technician show you the ins and outs of Google’s Tag Assistant and how it works with Conversion Actions in Google Ads. You’ll appreciate seeing the analytic and conversion tags in action.

Please Note: If you are selling “healthcare” products, DO NOT enable remarketing in Merchant Center. Once it is enabled, it cannot be turned off. Get used to using the Google Tag Assistant to help troubleshoot the responsible Tag Group and communicate your findings with the support team to save time.

Google Tag Manager Screen Shot

Here is a screen shot of Google's Tag Manager, used to test pages to understand what tags are enabled.

How Long Should it Take for Conversions to Improve?

We recommend spending at least $100 per day for at least 45 to 90 days to correctly measure conversions; without it, it’s unlikely you’ll generate enough learning and data for the format to work properly.

Some of our longest running ad sets perform better than identical sets that are spun up because we have given enough time for them to learn how the assets are to be used to maximize returns.

Performance Max campaigns need a budget (Google recommends 3x CPA), a conversion value (we like “Maximizing Conversions”) and your ROAS (which has a lot to do with your margins).

If you spending less $1K a month, you will need more control over where your ads will appear and Performance Max may be too expensive. Keyword searches may be a better use of your budget. But, if you want to be in Google Shopping, then Performance Max is your only ad set option.

Dial in your Google Merchant Center!

We found that getting your shipping settings, tax and product feeds correctly managed can provide real competitive advantages when your shopping ads are similar to competition.

Product feeds can become corrupted over time because APIs are constantly updating with in-stock, out-of-stock, price changes, GTIN changes, legal changes, etc. So, setting and forgetting is not recommended. You will want to check on your Google Merchant Center weekly to make sure everything is good.

Google Ad campaign types at a glance seem to change on a regular basis.

Without keywords, Performance Max campaigns rely on your website's content.

Maximize your Performance Max Asset Groups

Google’s machine learning algorithms do better when your asset groups are full and you have many asset groups. Assets groups combine video, images, headlines, budgets and negative keywords.

You can fit a lot of assets into each group and have up to 100 groups. 10 to 15 second videos are useful for these sets, especially if your audience is spending time on YouTube.

Here is what you need to get started:

  • Headline: 3-5 headlines
  • Long headline: 1-5 long headlines
  • Description: 2- 5 description texts
  • Images: at least 1 square and one landscape image
  • Logo: at least 1 square logo, others are optional
  • YouTube video: not required, up to 5 videos of min 10 seconds

The Upside and Downside of Performance Max Campaigns

Performance Max campaigns took some of the guesswork out of creating shopping ads. Unfortunately, that guesswork is the keywords you are trying to target. These ad sets are obviously the future of Google Advertising where you need to pay to play.

We found that these ad sets may hurt your branded search term campaigns (which are your most profitable campaigns in your arsenal). The higher your Performance Max budgets, the more they outshine your branded search campaigns. Be careful to balance the ad sets and understand your ROAS of each campaign type in order to not overspend.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, you cannot have sitelink extensions at the asset group level. This is a major downside to those of us who like to share content in the ad sets.

Performance Max is Relatively New

This campaign type really only launched in 2021 and Shopping Ads converted to it fully in September of 2022, so reporting and branded keyword cannibalization is improving daily.

It is important to keep in mind how massive Google’s ad network is. It shows in millions of inboxes, websites, targeted video rolls and search queries. We believe from our conversations with our Google Account Managers that this is where Google advertising is headed.

We see optimizing for this format with the correct assets, budgets and landing pages helps lower your conversion costs and become more profitable over time.

You can do it! Keep up your education around this ad set to grow your clients to the next level.

About Author

Pete Wisniewski

Pete Wisniewski is partner of Lakeside Marketing. He is based in Lake in the Hills, IL and can be found exploring the local hiking trails and working with community groups to create positive change.