For running shopping ads in Google Ads in 2023, you have two options: a standard shopping campaign, or a Performance Max (Pmax) campaign. Pmax – the new campaign type – had the highest
adoption rate last year. Many people went full speed with it, with sometimes poor results. Today I’ll show you how to avoid those early mistakes.
Why split shopping campaigns
While the ultimate reason of splitting shopping campaigns is performance, sometimes logistics plays role as well.
Some of the Logistical reasons are:
- Different countries That’s an obvious choice when you advertise in different countries, especially with different currency, or language, or both
- Seasonality If you sell swimware and winter jackets, you probably want to treat those products differently. Put them in separate campaigns
- Budget requirements if you have specific budget requirements per product categories, you control them by putting them in separate campaigns
- Experimentation when you experiment – which you always should be doing to improve performance – you also do that in separate campaigns.
Now let’s look at the Performance reasons.
- Bestsellers and Promotions strategies will allow you to focus on a small subset of products that you want to promote
- Discounted products sell better, and it makes sense to put them in a separate campaign
- Low stock and Overstocked strategies will let you control budgets for these different types of inventory
- Catch-all strategy addresses the tendency of smart bidding to “optimizing away” – or stop serving – some products. It “catches” product searches that fell through the cracks of the smart bidding campaigns
The bare minimum account setup
Make sure.you have all these elements in your ecommerce Google ads account.
1. Accurate conversion tracking
Use the native Google ads conversion tracking. Don’t import Analytics conversions.
2. Merchant Center Issues resolved
4. Run search campaign(s)
Search campaigns in an ecommerce account bring additional revenue, sometimes with a higher ROAS then shopping campaigns do. Allocate at least 20% of budget to them.
5. Run dynamic remarketing campaigns
The dynamic remarketing campaign is a smart way to reach the visitors of your website with specific message. Plan to spend at least 10% on remarketing.
What should you expect from Pmax
Uncontrollable video, search, and display traffic
Performance Max is the new campaign type that can run ads in many formats and on different networks. A Pmax campaign is easier to set up
and maintain than a standard shopping campaign.
Because Pmax runs different ad types, it spends not only on shopping ads, but on search and video and display ads. So there are always going to
be non-shopping costs in the Pmax campaigns.
To view the above graph for your Pmax campaigns, install the Google Ads script. It was created by the folks at Agencysavvy, who generously published it in the GitHub for everyone’s consumption
Learning period (up to 6 weeks) with lower performance
Expect two to six weeks of lower performance initially or after a big change is introduced in the campaign.
This is called “the learning period” – when the campaign collects and analyzes conversion data.
To minimize the learning period, make your changes smaller and make them less frequently.
For example, to change the budget, make changes once a week and not more than 20 percent. The same goes for bidding.
Limited reporting capabilities
Performance Max has limited reporting, which may not be an issue for smaller accounts. But for bigger accounts, it becomes really important to control everything; and Pmax is not the best option there.
Shopping-only Pmax campaigns
Shopping-only Performance Max (also called Asset-less, feed-only, SSC-style, or Naked Pmax campaign) is the way to configure Performance Max to try to run only shopping ads.
It can be easily set up in Google Ads or in the Google Ads Editor.
Issues with Shopping-only Pmax campaigns
Unfortunately, there are two issues with this approach.
The first one is that shopping-only traffic is not guaranteed. Eventually, Google will start generating video and text assets, and adding them to the campaign. Non-shopping spend will increase. In some cases that cost is barely noticeable. In others, it can reach up to 50 percent of the total cost.
The second issue is that Google, while acknowledging this way of running Pmax campaigns, does not recommend it.
And it’s possible that in the future this way of running or at least creating a Pmax campaign will not be available anymore.
So, use it while it lasts, do some testing, and if it doesn’t work the way you want it – switch to standard shopping.
Let’s look at some account structure examples.
1. The "Standard - Single" account structure
When you have a new account or under 30 conversions a month, I recommend running a standard shopping campaign with manual bid strategy. You want to get the “feel” of the shopping traffic, costs, and conversions before upgrading to another campaign type.
Use all budget allocated for shopping ads for this campaign.
This structure is harder to set up and manage than the Pmax campaign; and you get average performance at best. But you might not have any other choice: with such low conversion value, smart bidding will not be effective.
2. The "Pmax -Turbo" account structure
With least 30 conversions per month, it makes sense to try Performance max. This setup is very similar to the previous one where you put all your products in a single campaign.
The Pmax Turbo is the easiest to set up and manage among all the structures, and it can deliver better-than-average performance.
3. The "Pmax - Split" account structure
With alot more conversions per campaign – at least 30 – you can try separating campaigns.
In this example, we have the two-campaign structure, with the best sellers and regulars. The bestsellers have the Max conversion value bid strategy and sixty percent of the budget.
And the idea is that the bestsellers use the most budget, and the less restrictive bid strategy (without a target). For the regulars, we allocate less budget, and keep costs per click low by increasing tROAS.
The increased target usually results in reduced costs per click.
To determine the bestsellers, don’t look in Google Ads. Instead, look in Google Analytics in the e-commerce section for product IDs.
This strategy is relatively easy to set up and manage, it’s still Performance Max. The complication comes from deciding how to split products, allocate budgets, and which bid strategy to pick. Done right, this setup is usually more effective than a single Pmax campaign.
4. The "Standard - Split" account structure
With higher budgets – say from $20K per month – the need for control becomes a lot more important. You want to control spending, you want to control searches, you want to control negative keywords, and so on.
And this is only possible with a standard shopping campaign.
Standard shopping campaign is still the most flexible campaign type for large budgets.
This is a specific example of an account in an industry that thrives on promotions.
The account has at least two hundred monthly conversions.
There are always products on sale, and they are sold with a consistetly higher ROAS. So, you put promotional products in the Standard – Promotions campaign with a higher Target ROAS, and allocate 40 percent of the budget.
Then, you put the remaining products into the Standard-Other campaign with the slightly lower tROAS and 50 percent of the budget.
Finally, you run a catch-all campaign for all products, with very low manual bids.
In addition, you use campaign priorities and negative keywords to sculpt incoming traffic for better performance.
The campaign priorities and negative keywords are only available in the standard shopping campaigns
Standard shopping campaigns offer the best control and insight capabilities for shopping ads
This example of the account structure is hard to set up, and requires an ongoing management. But it has the potential to deliver the best performance.
Let’s compare the account structures described above. The structures with the Pmax campaigns – number two and three – are easier to set up and manage.
The standard campaign structures – number one and four – are harder to set up and manage, but on the flip side, they provide better control and measerement capabilities.
You get the best performance with Standard Split, but it only works for large budgets and large volume of conversions.
Let’s say that for most of the ecommerce stores, the Pmax Turbo or Pmax Split structures will be the best options.
Keep experimenting and try different campaign structures.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s answer some questions I received about the campaign structures and the Pmax campaigns.
Can I mix the “feed only” and complete asset groups in the Pmax campaign?
Technically you can, but I don’t see any advantage of doing this.
For the bestsellers setup, do you pick the best products or categories?
That depends on your bestsellers: if your bestseller products happen to be in one category, it will only simplify your setup.
Can I mix a Pmax and a standard shopping campaign on one account?
Yes, as long as you remember that Pmax has priority over the standard shopping campaigns. For example, in the “Standard Split” structure example, the Standard-promotions campaign can be replaced with a Pmax campaign.
Can I target the same products in several campaigns?
Generally, it’s not a good idea because the Pmax or the standard campaign with a higher priority will get all the traffic.
There are two exceptions, though.
One is the catch-only standard campaign, which helps to “catch” product searches, “missed” by smart bidding of the higher-level campaigns. It happens because smart bidding will sometimes stop serving certain products.
The second exception is the Search Query filtering structure, where all campaigns should target the same products.
Is there a good way to test account consolidation?
Yes. Use Portfolio Bid Strategies and Shared Budgets to combine campaigns with similar performance targets. It simplifies management.
For example, you can change targets more easily or remove poor-performing campaigns from the portfolio.
In this post, I described my approach to splitting shopping campaigns, and showed several structure examples.
If you have any questions about anything covered here, please write a comment below. Thanks.