How to know which products you’re bidding on

How to know which products you’re bidding on

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Google’s new campaign type Performance Max is inevitably spreading across the ecommerce ads universe, leaving users with no choice but to follow the new reality of automated multi-channel campaigns. This new type of campaign creates ads based on assets, audience signals, and data while using AI and machine learning for bidding and channel division – with little to no insight throughout the process.

For those ecommerce advertisers who are already familiar with Smart Shopping campaigns, this doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise; that is, the automation and multi-channel marketing in exchange for a loss of insights and control. The problem, however, is that previous workarounds are no longer working, and now the real difficulty is knowing what the advertising budget is spent on.

Performance Max is here to stay

Earlier this year (April 2022), Google announced that all ecommerce advertisers would be automatically upgraded to Performance Max in Google Ads by the end of September 2022. If you haven’t upgraded it voluntarily by now, chances are the upgrade will come automatically sooner than later.

So there isn’t really a choice anymore, and those who’ve done the irreversible already might have a lot of questions: what is it, how does it work, and – perhaps most importantly – how do I know which products I’m bidding on? 

Let’s start with the basics. 

What is Performance Max? 

Performance Max is the new way to buy Google Ads. It works as a goals-based campaign type for goals like sales, leads, and store visits, where you can access all these types of goals from a single campaign. It’s designed to complement your search campaigns based on keywords in order to help you get more converting customers from all of Google’s channels, that is, Search, Youtube, Display, Discover, Gmail, and Map. 

As with everything, Performance Max has both advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of them:

Strengths with Performance Max

  • Support in automating how to create an ad, target it, and deliver the whole campaign
  • The ads can spread wide across all of Google’s channels
  • The bidding strategies can be set to max for conversions, value, and CPA (target CPA) or set to a target value/conversion ratio (target ROAS)

Weaknesses with Performance Max

  • The geographical targeting can be more limited than for other campaigns 
  • It’s not possible to make exclusions 
  • The reporting on performance is minimal, i.e., no reporting on audience, keyword, demographic, and more. 

What does this mean for ecommerce advertisers?

According to Google’s own numbers, those advertisers who have upgraded their Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max have seen a 12% increase in conversion value for the same or better return on ad spend

Performance Max is still very similar to Smart Shopping with the fully automated bidding solution, but still with a lack of transparency and limited control of bidding data. And perhaps it wouldn’t be a problem if the campaign’s traffic went up, but unfortunately, many advertisers have seen a drop in traffic from all of the other types of campaigns instead. 

performance-max-90-second-video-review

The power (and powerlessness) of AI

Before Performance Max, i.e., the move to full automation, there was one Google Ads campaign designed for Search, one for Shopping, one for Display, and so on, where all these had different targets set up – for example, clicks, ROAS, impressions – with varying budgets for each campaign type. Search campaigns for sales and leads, Shopping for retail marketing, and Display campaigns for awareness. 

With Performance Max, the idea is to let automation and AI do all that for you – saving time and resources. The downside, however, is that with a focus on Display, Video, and so on, the inevitable objective will be brand building – but, when building a brand, you may not want an overall ROAS goal as a control tool, which will be the reality with Performance Max. In addition, as mentioned before, PMax comes with the cost of a lack of transparency and control – with no choice of going back. 

So how can we best make use of that? 

Getting the most out of AI in ecommerce

Just as it is with all algorithmic solutions, data is key. The best results come when using as many assets, i.e., text, images, or videos, as possible and with a run time of at least a couple of weeks. For Performance Max, Google has advised at least 6 weeks to let the algorithm collect as much data as possible to compare performance and as many assets as possible. After that, the AI can optimise the ads for the bidding process.

Basically, all that needs to be done is to define the campaign’s goal, present as many assets as possible, and then let Google’s machine learning tools do the rest. With Performance Max, the auto-generated ads will be tested throughout all of Google’s channels in different combinations, all while using smart bidding to optimise the campaign in real-time. 

So AI, automation, and machine learning are critical and valuable – but it’s also important to be aware of the drawbacks and know where the budget is spent in order to follow up on results.

AI without the drawbacks 

As we know by now, with automation – the foundation of Performance Max – often comes less control and transparency; but with the rise of alternative automation services, that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. 

If you remove listing groups from your Performance max campaign, you can use other customized campaigns and bidding strategies for your Shopping Ads. 

And so, for those ecommerce advertisers wanting automation – and control – the best solution is using a third party solution for Shopping ads in a combination with Performance max
Bidbrain, for example, offers such a Shopping ad service for e-retailers. With customers performing beyond target and gaining insights with the help of these key benefits:

  1. The combination of AI bidding technology for your Google Shopping campaign and having control of how and where your budget is spent. You can easily set different ROAS targets and budgets on different product segments of your choice. This way, you’ll get the benefits of Ai and automation - with full transparency on the bidding data and search terms used. 
  1. A separated Shopping campaign will not spend the budget on videos or banner ads, only on Google Shopping ads. Bidbrain will also only spend money where it’s most likely to convert into sales, i.e., spending money where it actually gets results. Focus is on the highest converting channels, high-intent-search. 
  1. You get full insights in your data. This equals no black box, and together with the right tools you can control the system in your own way. The AI bidding and automation do the every-day tasks of optimizing bids for each product in the campaign, while you’re in the co-pilot seat.

The best of both worlds

With Performance Max, your campaigns will get the full AI and multi-channel experience with ads based on assets and data – saving you time and energy. For those ecommerce advertisers who previously used to track performance by channel, however, the upgrade will be a setback as this new kind of campaign isn’t recognising different targets set for channels nor identifying which channel is performing better than another.

But there is hope.

If you still wish to get a fully automated feed optimisation solution, ROAS targeting bidding automation, access to keywords and search terms – as well as control and transparency to the bidding data – start exploring what Bidbrain has to offer. And when you’re set up, start tracking your spend and automating your monthly invoices with Juni. That way, you’ll get the best of Google’s worlds. 

How to know which products you’re bidding on
Bidbrain
AI-technology solution for Google Shopping

Bidbrain is a platform that increases performance of Google Shopping campaigns using state of the art AI-technology. It also gives you in-depth analysis, feed optimization and automated bidding on Google Shopping.

Download our free whitepaper and gain important ecommerce and marketing insights, directly from Juni.

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