Dream Agility Blog

What Google Hasn’t Told You About Implementing Performance Max.

Table of Contents

Who are Dream Agility?

Dream Agility is a Google Premier Partner based in the UK, with over £250 million in spend through our MCC in the last year. We use our proprietary Machine Learning and Visual AI to optimise and manage Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Instagram product feeds and advertising. Google is a moving goal post, our tech has to continually evolve to stay one step ahead of it. Hence the production of this guide in order to help advertisers get the best out of Performance Max. Our Google Digital Champion came 2nd in the UK and 39th in the world, so you can be sure you’re getting Googles advise, but spun to give you the best results.

What is Google Performance Max?

Performance Max is part of Google’s solution in anticipation of the cookie-less world, combining all networks into one campaign. Whether this is a positive step is up for debate. What is guaranteed is less visibility in the accounts and less ability to push the products you want to. It’s a compulsory upgrade to Performance Max from Smart shopping which will automatically begin to roll-out this July (due to be finished by September, but has been put back to 2023).

Can you still use Traditional Google Shopping Campaigns?

Yes you can still use Traditional Shopping Campaigns. We use our Product Excluder to remove under performing products from Performance Max Campaigns and manage them in Traditional Shopping Campaigns where you have more control. We also use Traditional campaigns on products where we need more control and visibility of performance. We refer to these as our Hybrid Accounts. You shouldn’t have a product more than once across Google Shopping Feeds, so ensure it’s removed from other sources so it’s only in one place.

What uplift can I expect after moving to Performance Max?

Google claims you can see up to 12% uplift by switching from Smart Shopping to Performance Max. However we don’t believe the set up recommended by Google gives you the best results. On the Performance Max Campaigns we’ve been re-working for new clients we were initially seeing an extra 10% gained from P Max re-work. With everything we’ve learned, we’re now  seeing a 30-40% uplift in sales on our structures with a Hybrid Account.

Does Search 360 work with Performance Max?

Not currently. The compulsory switch to P Max has been pushed out to 2023 when they hope it will be compatible. We’ve noticed large accounts that we’ve audited, who have stayed on Smart Shopping are seeing a dip in sales and ROAS, despite moving into peak season. We don’t know the reason for this.  

How do Performance Max campaigns work?

All the different campaign networks will now be combined into one big campaign. This means that all your Google shopping, Gmail, Google Search, YouTube, Display, Maps, and Discover Campaigns will be combined into one.

Google will dynamically create ads for each network, using a mixture of all of the creative assets you provide it with. It will work similarly to responsive ads where Google’s machine learning selects the best combination of assets for the situation it is in. The assets you provide can include videos, pictures, headlines, descriptions & your feed’s product information which are then combined to create the best asset at the right time.

Google will serve what they believe is the best ad for each search. So, it might be on Google Maps, YouTube, or any other of Google’s platforms.

We’ve noticed that many accounts that we’ve audited have a sub optimal set up for this and are not updating their assets. It’s extremely frustrating for customers when they click an image and the product is nowhere to be found on your website because it’s no longer for sale.

How Will Performance Max Google Ads Affect Any Other Existing Campaigns?

Other than exact match search campaigns, your Performance Max campaigns ads will take precedence over any other ad. This is because in most cases, the campaign ad which shows relies on Google’s ‘Ad Rank’. Performance Max campaigns are always going to have the highest Ad Rank as these campaigns have a wide range of assets to choose from so can always serve what Google deems a highly relevant ad.

In the case of Google Smart Shopping, Display Advertising, Broad Match & Phrase Match, Performance Max Ads will always take priority. It is just in the case of exact match, the exact match always will serve.

When Is Performance Max Going To Be Implemented?

You can already choose to upgrade to Performance Max, there is the one click tool on your current smart shopping campaigns. Advertisers who do not upgrade their Smart shopping campaigns will automatically upgrade between July and September 2022, although this date has been pushed back to 2023 due to the incompatibility of Search 360 with Performance Max.

What Tracking Can Be Used On Performance Max Ad Campaigns? What Is Google Recommending?

Google strongly recommends that you use enhanced conversion tracking along with their new consent mode which is an upgrade to their website tracking. Historically, Google did not recommend website tracking as it tends to over-inflate sales attributed to Google Ads but instead suggested that you use Google Analytics tracking, as it takes other sources of traffic (such as Organic searches, Microsoft Ads, Facebook) into consideration when assigning the source of revenue.

Google has now made a U-turn and is now recommending Enhanced conversions; this is probably because they want the new Performance Max campaigns to have as many touch points as possible to optimise from, but this could lead to an inflation of the reported revenues in Google Ads.

You are currently able to continue using Google Analytics tracking alongside the Performance Max campaigns, but we are unsure of the implications of this right now. Will the campaigns have enough data to work with? Will we still see the 12% rise in revenue that Google suggests the average retailer will see by switching to Performance Max? Will clients who already have well-optimised accounts see the 12% increase or is this just for the ‘average’ retailer?

Once cookies are removed, now pushed back to 2024, Google is introducing consent mode, where they will start predicting whether someone who has not accepted cookies has made a purchase on your site based on their user behavior and information. Google used to track your keyword search terms, from the click all the way through, but now it is going to be an approximation

Learning Periods and campaign deletion

Google has said if you have a Smart Shopping campaign, and you upgrade to Performance Max then it won’t need to go through the learning period again. You’ll need 4 weeks before you can compare performance. Otherwise, on a new set up you need to run it for 2 weeks for the learning period and 4 weeks to compare performance. Google will delete the Smart campaign once Performance Max is activated.

What PPC Managers Using An Agency Should Look Out For On Performance Max?

It is important to regularly check that the figures that are being reported match both Google Ads and Analytics, so you can get a sense as to whether they are being inflated at all, the last thing anyone wants is to be faithfully reporting Google Ads data to their management team only to find a hole in revenues where the Google Ads data does not match Analytics data. There is always a slight discrepancy between the two, but you would not want to be double counting.

We recently did an audit for the Head of Digital for a major high street retailer who said they did not recognise the figures we were quoting in our audit for revenue. That is because Google Ads was double-counting compared to the analytics figures, and they were only achieving half the revenues reported on the agency reports from Google Ads.

Make sure you have your brand and generics covered comprehensively on exact match search ads so you have some control over the spend and performance, otherwise Performance Max will take that traffic and you’ll have no visibility of it.  

We’re also seeing Change History in Google Ads with little or no changes since moving to performance Max. We have one out going Agency claim to the client that it didn’t matter who managed the account, they would all do the same level of work. The agent had had months where zero changes were being made in the account, not even budgets! In the first 6 weeks of taking over the account, we made 364K changes, Revenue was up 57%, Costs were down 15% CPA was down 36%, and ROAS up by 47%

What are we doing with our clients that are currently on Smart Shopping?

We have started the process of migrating to Performance Max, that includes breaking any separate campaigns out into new accounts, because the Performance Max campaigns would have affected the other campaigns in the account.

We have recommended that we stay on the current tracking, to begin with so we do not inflate the sales figures in Google ads, to see how Performance Max really performs. Thereafter we are implementing our cookie-less tracking before we change to the recommended tracking to give us enhanced visibility and the ability to influence structures. We will be relying more on our Product Excluder to ensure only high converting, high margin products are being served.

What Are We Doing With Our Clients That Are Currently On Traditional Shopping?

Our clients on traditional shopping have a tremendous competitive advantage in that their accounts are really well packed with negatives at product level, and we bid aggressively ONLY on the terms that convert at ROAS. Their competitors cannot really touch them, which is why they are all now top in their sectors. We are bidding really hard on the keywords/ search terms we know work and negativing out the anything that does not work at an Ad group, campaign, and product level.

We are leaving our clients’ Traditional Shopping campaigns untouched because they have total control/visibility on the products they are serving and their bidding strategies. And they achieve double digit Revenue and ROAS growth year on year.

If you would like to increase your online sales, exceed your target ROAS and conversion goals, book a demo with one of our specialists today. Alternatively, you can read one of our case studies.

Don’t Want To Be On Performance Max? Our Advice For Anybody Considering Moving From Smart Shopping To Traditional Shopping.

The transition will be the hardest part. You should not run traditional shopping next to a Smart Campaign, because smart shopping campaigns will cannibalize the traffic that you get in the traditional campaigns.

To transition safely, you should pause your Smart Campaigns and then put the traditional campaigns live after. However, the issue with this is the results are not going to be instant. You will have a lull in sales for around 4-6 weeks, just until there is enough data in the Google Ads account. Once there is enough data you can then start optimising the traditional shopping or search campaigns.

Why not consider a Hybrid Account and have the best of both worlds.  

Visibility of Product Performance on Performance Max

We recently attended a Google event about Performance Max. One of the things mentioned is that performance by item group, or product group was not going to be included.

However, due to the vast demand of requests from agencies and users of Google ads, they have finally added conversions and conversion value by product group. If no one had inputted, the likelihood is you would have Performance Max Shopping campaigns where you could not see the performance at a product group level.

Adding Negative Keywords to Your Account

With Performance Max Campaigns, you can no longer add negatives at campaign level. The only way to get negative keywords added to the Performance Max Campaign is by having your CSS reach out to Google. The negatives can only be added at an account level, which is hardly ideal!

If you have a brand exact match campaign, you can request to have your brand negatived out of Performance Max, but it will also be negatived out of your exact match brand campaign because it is applied at an account level.

Google has advised that if you are intending on running Performance Max, search, PLA, and display ADs in multiple accounts, you should run it all from one account as it will only show once in the auction.

Reporting performance by network?

You can no longer report performance by network on Performance Max Campaigns and you have no ability to change which networks you serve on Google.

Historically, we find with any shopping or search campaign when it is shown across the Display Network, or search partners, it tends to have a much lower conversion rate, and can potentially waste money. We would typically turn this off on an account that we manage. However, when running a Performance Max campaign, you do not have the visibility of that data in the first place to see which platform is consuming cost and not delivering conversions and you have no control to turn it off.

How Can Dream Agility’s Tools Help Optimise Your Performance Max Campaigns to a 30-40% competitive advantage?

We have tools that other providers have, we also have a raft of tools with functionality that others don’t. With so few levels you can pull on Performance Max to give yourself a competitive advantage you have to adopt additional tech approaches.

Our feed optimiser is the first one to be paid search first. The first-Generation feed providers were based on getting the products into a marketplace to sit until it sold. But when you’re paying for clicks you need a feed that’s highly relevant, we use everything from: Visual AI, to look at products to ensure the data is correct and to add attributes not currently in the feed this will be vital to conversion; to Machine learning, to remove data that’s not relevant to the product and could be showing it on irrelevant searches. We can slice and dice the feed to make sure we are taking irrelevant information out that we do not want Performance Max using when serving ads. There are some good feed providers out there, but they’re mostly SaaS products and as such there’s huge pressure on them from investors to deliver a product that fits the lowest common denominator, if you have a large feed,  complex/technical products, non-generic product titles, and descriptions, then you’re going to need something more powerful. We have more optimisation algorithms available on our platform than any other provider. We were able to get an additional 110k products per feed approved for Google Shopping for a client, over the existing Products Up feed. When you consider they have over 20 feeds that were over 2 million products not being served, purely due to the limitations of a Feed provider.

Google recommends you structure your accounts in a way that helps their machine learning to work better, not necessarily the way that helps you achieve the most profitable sales and have the best visibility over your products. Our structure builder can devise structures which work better for you, your products and your sales, better than any other application we’ve seen in the market.

You’ll not only be able to identify the products which are not converting, or converting at sub ROAS,  but also eating up spend and remove them from that campaign or consider if the price point or other data needs changing.

It is a product that is unique to us. We keep getting asked: “why do we have these products that nobody else has?” And, our response is always that nobody else would be stupid enough to build them, because it impacts how much money you spend on Google, usually lowering it or maintaining it for higher sales/ROAS. Obviously, most agencies work on a percentage of spend, if you’re not growing your spend, you are not growing your revenues and Google typically grows its revenues by about 20% per year, although, last year it was nearer 40%. We’re about performance, not just spend and all our technology is built around that premise. We structure things in a way that suits our clients and their sales goals rather than suiting Google and the way its machine learning works.

For your search and traditional shopping campaigns, this fantastic bit of kit will make sure you don’t pay a penny more than you have to, to achieve the best ROAS, by negativing out sub-optimal ROAS and zero converting terms, at both an Ad group and Campaign level.

Click Chain

Our cookie less tracking solution which will continue to show you which ads, along with their conversion values, from their referring sources; Google, Bing, FB, direct, etc. have delivered you sales. Invaluable for seeing through those walled gardens when chrome joins iOS and others in blocking third-party cookies. When Google starts serving you approximated traffic in your results, we’ll be able to show you actual sales figures from the actual ad.

How Is Your Competition Doing on Performance Max?

They must rely on Google more than they currently do and trust Google’s to serve the right ads for the searches. As most website conversion rates run between 2-10% we know that’s not happening most of the time.

If the product titles are wrong or sub optimal, they will not get as many sales. If they have too much irrelevant information in the descriptions & titles, they are going to lose a lot more money because their ads are going to serve against irrelevant things which they cannot negative out. If you cannot remove underperforming products, you will not achieve the best ROAS possible for your targeted spend. Once cookies go, you will effectively be advertising blind without a cookie less tracker.

Don’t be left behind, book a strategy call or demo now

Not sure how to safely migrate over to Performance Max to make sure your growth is sustainable and not a flash in the pan? Please drop us a line or give us a call and we’d be happy to advise.

You’ve already moved to Performance Max and have seen the 12% uplift but want to squeeze more out of it with a Performance Max rework, talk to us and we’ll let you know if your account is a good candidate for a re-work.

Alternatively, if you would like to find out more about how our technology can give you a competitive edge and more control once you move to Performance Max, then please fill out the contact us form below.