05 jun 2023

Google Shopping or Performance Max? Here's the difference

️ Blog
14 min. reading time

Looking for the best campaign type for your e-commerce strategy? Below we compare Google Shopping Ads and Performance Max (PMax) to help you make the right choice.

The short answer? Shopping Ads are ideal if you want to focus on the visibility of your products in the Shopping results. Performance Max, on the other hand, offers broader, automated reach across multiple channels, such as Search Networks, YouTube, Gmail, and Discovery. Both options have unique features and benefits.

But, it's not that simple. Below we would like to explain why in some cases it is better to opt for Shopping ads and in other cases for Performance Max. Our tips will help you make the most of both options and learn how to use them for optimal results.

Standard Shopping Ads or Performance Max?

In the dynamic world of e-commerce, it is essential to use the right advertising strategies to get your products in front of potential customers. Two popular options are Google Shopping Ads and Performance Max. Our comparison can be found below so that you can easily determine the best strategy for your company. 

Google Shopping Ads

Google Shopping Ads have long been an effective way for advertisers to promote products on Google. With Shopping Ads you give your products a place on relevant Shopping pages. Here they are presented visually attractive with images, prices, discounts and additional product information. 

Unlike traditional Search ads, Shopping Ads do not use keywords. Instead, Google pulls data from your Google Merchant Center account. Here you build, import and manage your product feed and determine which ads can be shown where. This helps Google's algorithm match your products with potential customers who are actively searching for similar products.

Max Performance

Performance Max is a fairly new option and was introduced by Google in the last quarter of 2021. It has been specially developed to give advertisers a more comprehensive and automated experience in promoting products and services. With Performance Max, advertisers use multiple channels, including Search, YouTube, Gmail, and Discovery, to get their message across. One of the most notable features of Performance Max is the use of machine learning, which automatically optimizes ads.

With Performance Max, the system itself determines where and how your products are displayed, based on one marketing goal and one conversion goal. Because Performance Max uses machine learning, it is not you, but the AI ​​that determines the best place for your ads. With your input, tailor-made advertisements are created for each channel, again automatically. 

The success of Performance Max therefore depends on the campaign information that advertisers provide. The more data is available, the better the campaign can optimize itself. It can therefore be more difficult to get results quickly when little or no data is available.

Ultimately, Performance Max aims to maximize your ROI and ROAS across multiple channels. Google operates on the principle that as long as the results are good, what goes on behind the scenes is less relevant. As a (SEA) marketer, this can sometimes be frustrating, because we like to have as much insight and control as possible so that we can make adjustments based on our own insights if necessary.

The differences

To make an informed decision about which option is best for you, it is important to compare the features and possibilities of both options. We think these are the important points to consider:

Reach and Visibility:

  • Google Shopping Ads allow advertisers to specifically target keywords related to their products. As a result, they generate more targeted visibility for these products. These ads appear above the organic search results and contain images and product information that directly appeal to potential customers.
  • On the other hand, Performance Max offers a broader reach as it places ads on various channels, including search networks, YouTube, Gmail, and Discovery. This allows you to reach potential customers at different touchpoints during their customer journey. Performance Max uses machine learning to determine which channels and times your ads will be most effective. You have no influence on this and you need a lot of data to do this properly.

Automation and Optimization:

  • Performance Max uses advanced machine learning technology to automatically optimize bids and ad placements based on campaign performance and objectives. Again, the more data, the better. This enables advertisers to work more efficiently and achieve better results without extensive manual management. Performance Max takes the heavy lifting out of your hands and uses data and algorithms to determine the best ad placements.
  • Google Shopping Ads, on the other hand, offer more control and customization for advertisers. You can manually set bids, target specific keywords, and track the performance of individual products. This gives advertisers more control over their advertising strategy and enables more accurate optimization based on specific objectives and performance data.

So, when do you use Google Shopping Ads and when do you use Performance Max?

Now that you have a better understanding of the differences between Google Shopping Ads and Performance Max, it's important to understand in which situation you should choose one over the other.

Use Google Shopping Ads if:

  • You want to benefit from targeted visibility on the Google search network.
  • You have specific products for which you want to manually set bids and closely monitor and adjust performance.
  • You have experience optimizing advertising campaigns based on detailed performance data and specific objectives.

Use Performance Max if:

  • You want to benefit from broader reach across multiple channels, including search networks, YouTube, Gmail, and discovery.
  • You want to benefit from automated optimization based on machine learning technology.
  • You have limited time and resources and want a more automated approach to your advertising strategy.
  • You have a large amount of data available to 'run' the campaigns. 

Choosing between Google Shopping Ads and Performance Max depends on your specific e-commerce strategy, objectives and resources. Both options offer unique benefits and it's important to make the right trade-off based on your needs. Therefore, test with different strategies, measure the results and adjust your approach to ultimately achieve the best results for your e-commerce activities.

Growing online together?

While setting up an effective campaign takes time and effort, it can have a major impact on your organization's exposure and sales. Are you unable to make time yourself, but do you think it is important to have ads running to achieve your business goals? Then it may be smart to hire an agency to help you with your marketing activities. Social Brothers has a lot of experience with Online marketing, IF THE, design en Development – of course data driven.

Do you want advice about or help with your online marketing? Social Brothers will help you! Contact us via the module at the bottom of this page or visit our Contact page.

PatrickContent Marketer[email protected]

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