Shopping vs PMAX in 2023
Nov 21, 2023

Shopping vs PMAX in 2023

It’s been two years since Performance Max, and advertisers are still asking the same question, is Performance Max better than Standard Shopping and fear a lack of control using Performance Max. We took a deep dive into how the two have performed since the turn of the year across 982 accounts, and over 85,000 campaigns and 1766 merchant centers.

From January 1st 2023 to October 31st 2023 we compared the spend and performance of Performance Max and Standard Shopping campaigns.

Whilst overall investment in Performance Max campaigns have dropped from 89% back to 85.15%, it still has an overwhelming majority proving that it is highly accepted by both agencies and retailers alike.

Despite a lack of overall visibility, both agencies and retailers are putting aside those frustrations as Performance Max continues to outperform Standard Shopping across the board.

Of course, Performance Max isn’t just Shopping and by Google’s own admission, Dynamic Remarketing can play a very significant role in Performance Max results. Therefore we isolated the Shopping and Non-Shopping elements of the above analysis so we could compare Shopping like for like against both campaign types.

Whilst the CPC and CPA increase slightly, both the AOV and ROAS increase slightly when comparing shopping to shopping.

This again highlights Performance Max as the winner in terms of performance.

The overall traffic from Performance Max campaigns alone breaks down as follows.

Whilst feed only Performance Max campaigns can achieve a high amount of Shopping traffic, there is still a very small percentage of non-shopping traffic within them.

The highest amount of non-shopping traffic observed within our analysis was 64.34%.

If Performance Max performs better, why do agencies and retailers still prefer Standard Shopping?

We asked and the overwhelming answers always come back to visibility and control. It’s also worth noting that we have seen first-hand countless examples of Standard Shopping campaigns performing brilliantly because the management and strategy deployed by those managing them are very well done.

Based on the feedback, we wanted to understand how much Google Ads Management goes into Performance Max vs Standard Shopping campaigns. So, we took a look at this data over from the period 10th October to the 9th November 2023 and found some interesting results. We only looked at campaigns that had spent £100+ within the analysis period.

Performance Max

As you would expect, there is a strong correlation between CPC increases and Campaign Changes. We’ll reflect on that further and explain why that happens in greater detail in a follow up blog post.

With Performance Max, less is more. Google has created a campaign type that through its machine learning, AI and automation can deliver very strong results. Whilst we do not advocate a set and forget policy, constantly changing and optimising your Performance Max campaign is detrimental.

Your focus should be on a clear and robust campaign strategy, ensuring good data is being fed into your campaigns, creating assets and managing audiences. Above and beyond that, you should ensure that your product feed is optimised to the highest standards and contains performance and business signals. Finally, keeping your Merchant Center as clean as possible is essential.

It’s also worth noting that just because some campaigns have not received any changes in the past 30 days it doesn’t mean they are not being monitored or receiving no consideration. Clearly these campaigns are performing well and leaving them to run can be considered a reasonably good decision. We would stress that this also does not mean no work has taken place within the overall Google Ads account either.

Standard Shopping

Once again, we can see a strong correlation between CPC increases and Campaign Changes. But firstly, we have to address the ‘elephant in the table’. 28% of the campaigns analysed had no changes made in the past 30 days. 

Whilst managing Google Shopping covers more than just Campaign Management, it’s hard to justify this being the case when the biggest objection to Performance Max is control and transparency.