What Does Performance Max Mean For Retailers?

Learn about what Performance Max is, how it differs from Google Smart Shopping and why it still isn't enough.

Smart digital marketers use Upp’s powerful AI platform to acquire more customers and hit their targets.

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    While Google Shopping plays a fundamental role in the operations of all online retailers, it can be difficult to maintain and optimise the results it provides. As such, it ultimately delivers limited campaign success. Google themselves recognised these limits and attempted to upgrade with the introduction of Smart Shopping, which still uses solely Google data, but reduces the time needed to optimise accounts at the cost of limited insights. Now, Google is aiming to take their campaigns one step further by replacing GSS with Performance Max. 

    Performance Max campaigns aren’t technically new. They were first announced by Google in 2020 and later rolled out to advertisers in November 2021. The difference is that retailers can expect to soon be able to easily upgrade their campaigns to Performance Max with a one-click-tool. On top of that, any and all campaigns will be automatically upgraded to Performance Max by the end of September this year.

    All signs point to retailers needing to take up Performance Max immediately to stay ahead of competitors and prevent any growing pains when it gets rolled out. Like the initial negative reception that GSS received when it was first introduced, Performance Max is now facing the same level of resistance, coupled with unease in having no choice in its rollout. While the lack of transparency and visibility given by Google Shopping has long been acknowledged, the apparent perceived loss of control over campaigns is enough to have retailers concerned about their futures.

    However, as seen with Smart Shopping, new tech introduced by Google has been proven to be better equipped at finding more consumers for retailers at a lower Cost Per Acquisition. What’s crucial is employing ways to optimise those capabilities and deliver the insights and control online retailers need. This is where Upp comes in.

    Retailers need to understand how Performance Max will actually affect their Google performance and why Upp is the best solution to fully utilising its capabilities for better results. 

    Suggested reading: Still haven’t fully gotten to grips with Google Smart Shopping? Get a recap by reading Everything You Need to Know About Google Smart Shopping Optimise google shopping

    Upp is the AI platform that drives your performance engagement

    Performance marketing is a cornerstone of online retailing, but the lack of visibility in Google’s native tools can make campaign creation and management more of a guessing game than a calculated move. 

    Sure, Google Shopping — and Performance Max — are powered by a wealth of data, but understanding, accessing, and drawing actionable insights from this data can feel impossible. Moreover, Performance Max only analyses its own Google data. It can’t contextualise your strategy with information about your wider business, meaning you could be missing out on the most effective ways to fulfil your own business objectives.

    In line with this, our own research has found that 24-40% of existing Google ad spends generate inadequately low revenue, while Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) thresholds can prevent almost 88% of products from being advertised.

    As Performance Max enters the arena, you need a platform that can give you real-time retail performance data that generates insights — not just from Google but also your product performance data. Upp does it all. 

    We’re an AI and data-driven solution that gives you truly complete visibility over your campaign data. While Performance Max is a great place to start, Upp helps you achieve truly supercharged performance. 

    Through the power of AI, our platform works 24/7 to analyse critical data points, including insights from Google Shopping’s ecosystem, data like CTR, Conv. Rate, ROAS, GMV, and Spend, and connecting your product performance data, trend data and more to identify opportunities for growth and optimisation. This means unparalleled visibility and actionable insights that drive long-term success for you and your business. 

    You might be thinking: “but I already work with an agency.” That’s fair enough! We’re not here to tell you to leave your agency, as they do have a place for retailers. We’re acting as the voice of reason on Performance Max to keep you aware of what it does and to showcase better ways of approaching Google Shopping entirely. 

    With all the negativity around Performance Max, industry leaders are sharing that many agencies as well as other ecommerce tech providers are trying to persuade their clients away from adopting Performance Max and instead asking them to stick with Standard Shopping.

    This is because Performance Max’s functionality effectively makes agencies redundant — might sound harsh, but it’s true! Performance Max covers Search, Display Network, and Smart Shopping. It basically does what your agency used to do, making it near impossible for any to justify the fees they charge. 

    From our view, failing to adopt Performance Max puts online retailers on the back foot. Google is a pioneer of innovation and Performance Max will become the default way to manage Google Shopping campaigns. Google is also proactively preparing retailers to take on Performance Max over Standard Shopping to get the gears in motion prior to its mandatory rollout. Clearly, we have a case of out with the old and in with the new!

    The scepticism surrounding Performance Max

    The trouble with any rollout — especially a mandatory one — is that we lose our ability to choose. Online retailers are understandably sceptical of Performance Max. The deep automation features of Performance Max are designed to make running campaigns easier and improve your touchpoints across Google’s platform, but it still doesn’t connect your data with Google’s to improve your campaign performance.

    While Google provides data on high-level metrics to determine the effectiveness of your overall performance, it doesn’t offer you SKU level analysis of your entire campaign performance. That means you never gain a deep understanding of individual product performance. Is one item selling better than another? Does your stock inventory reflect this? These are all questions that Performance Max can’t answer on its own. 

    Automation without insights from key data points can harm long-term growth. Unless online retailers adopt Performance Max strategically, they might find themselves frustrated and confused about campaign performances, unable to glean valuable insights that will help broader business objectives. 

    You need reassurance that your Performance Max campaigns support your wider business objectives in the form of granular insights and transparency over the data-driven decisions being made on your behalf. 

    What Performance Max actually delivers on

    With all that said, it’s worth stressing that the introduction of Performance Max is the right step forward! Here’s a brief overview of how Performance Max fares against Smart Shopping and why we advocate utilising it:

    • Can add more creative assets: Performance Max Campaigns give you access to various ad formats, including Display Ads, Text Ads, Shopping Ads etc.
    • Give feedback on said assets’ ad strength: Performance Max gives feedback about each asset’s strength as an advert, enabling you to adjust and optimise your ads for enhanced performance.
    • Search term reports: One of the downfalls of Smart Shopping is the lack of search term reports. Performance Max has brought this back — kind of. You will receive insights on your search terms grouped in certain themes. Performance Max also delivers insights on your demographics. 
    • Landing pages: You can choose where to drive your traffic, be it a URL of your choosing or one that Google automatically determines based on relevance. 

    For all of these benefits, you must remember that Performance Max falters in that it only gives you visibility into Google-native data. It gives you a deep picture of how users interact with your products on one platform, but it ignores other relevant retail datasets that have a genuine, tangible impact on your campaign performance. 

    To drive growth, you need to understand budgets, trends, demand, and product feeds and have access to additional retailer data like order data, cost of goods, site metrics, and stock-run rates. If you rely on Performance Max alone, your metrics will inevitably fall short of a comprehensive campaign overview. 
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    Performance Max alone isn’t enough

    Performance Max may represent a new, exciting step in the right direction for Google Shopping and online retail as a whole but it tends to forget the big picture. Upp aids in supercharging strategies alongside Performance Max so that that big picture can come into view.

    While Performance Max only analyses Google-native data, our third-party intelligent AI performance platform blends product and market performance data to enhance your Performance Max experience. We will help you understand your data in ways you haven’t before at both SKU and a wider business level.

    Suggested reading: Get more insights into the power of AI with our article How AI Can Supercharge Your Google Shopping Management in 2022

    Upp provides visibility and critical information

    Upp works by combining key business metrics such as ROAS, GMV, and Spend with product performance data, trend data, and expert know-how of Google Shopping to optimise your campaigns to maximise profitability and growth continuously. 

    Upp acts as the platform that enables you to fill in the data gaps by understanding your product performance and campaigns as they stand — Upp then automatically executes the improvements to your campaigns. The intelligent and automated nature of our platform guarantees that you will always have real-time insights that are relevant to your business, acting as a safety net while the e-commerce world continues to change and grow.

    Ready to take the true power of Performance Max Google Shopping management to the next level? Get a free consultation with one of our experts today and get hard-hitting insights into your campaigns and products within the span of only 30 minutes! Performance Max taken to the next level