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What’s Happening To Google Ads Smart Shopping and Local Campaigns?

Google's Smart Shopping and Local campaign types are being replaced with autonomous Performance Max campaigns

The power of automation can no longer be ignored! We’re talking about Google Ads' newest campaign type: Performance Max. 

It’s officially time to start upgrading your Smart Shopping and Local campaigns with this new, autonomous way of advertising. Google states that Performance Max was created to do just what its name suggests: maximize performance. Whether or not you believe all the hype, all you can do is test it out to see how it delivers results against your clients’ goals using Google’s full range of channels, inventory, and formats.

Google Ads is phasing out Smart Shopping and Local campaigns in a staged approach, which has already started. 

We highly recommend you do this process yourself rather than just letting Google do it for you. And we’re here to help guide you through the process so you can really impress your clients by exceeding their conversion goals.

If you’re late to the party and have no idea what Performance Max campaigns are, be sure to check out our complete guide first. 

This article covers: 

Google’s Announcement & Timeline

Last November, Google announced that Smart Shopping and Local campaigns are being upgraded to Performance Max campaigns starting in April 2022. 

Google is giving marketers the time to test and try out this new feature, but by September 2022, Smart Shopping and Local campaigns will be a thing of the past! 

Google's timeline of Performance Max campaign upgrades in 2022.

If you don't make the switch yourself, Google Ads will automatically transition your existing Smart Shopping and Local campaigns into Performance Max campaigns. 

And don’t worry about the learnings that Google has already collected from your existing campaigns. It will be applied to your new Performance Max campaigns to maintain consistent performance. 

What About Google Local Services Ads (GLSA)?

At the moment, GLSAs are exempt from the forced migration to Performance Max. This doesn't mean that it won't happen at some point down the road, but, for now, they remain as a separate entity. 

You may wonder why these aren't lumped into the general category of Google Local Campaigns, but they are–in fact–a different beast.

The main difference between Google Local Campaigns and Google Local Services Ads is that Local Campaigns are simply advertisements for businesses, while Local Services Ads are business listings with enhanced features. These features include the ability to show star ratings, hours of operation, a map, a Google Screened or Google Guaranteed badge, etc. Local Services Ads also have a lead form that customers can fill out to request more information or set up an appointment.

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Why Upgrade Your Smart Shopping & Local Campaigns Now

We recommend upgrading your client’s Smart Shopping and Local campaigns manually instead of simply waiting for Google to automatically do it for you. Upgrading manually means you’ll be able to:

  • Keep an eye on performance and make adjustments as needed.

  • Ensure all the settings you need are migrated correctly or adjusted for the new Performance Max experience.

  • Test the migration process on a lower-value campaign to see how the new campaign type works for your specific client. 

  • Pick a time that works best for your agency when you can have all hands on deck to adjust and optimize after the migration.

  • Migrate one campaign, one client, or one type (Smart Shopping vs. Local campaigns) at a time rather than trying to adjust all of your client’s campaigns at the same time.

  • Create backup strategies in case the Performance Max campaign migration negatively impacts performance. 

How To Upgrade Smart Shopping and Local Campaigns To Performance Max

First, you’ll want to log into your Google Ads account. Once the self-upgrade tool becomes available to you, you’ll be prompted to upgrade via a notification (see notifications panel in the top right corner). If you have Smart Shopping campaigns and Local campaigns currently set up, you’ll see a notification to upgrade each type of campaign separately. The upgrade process is the same for both campaigns. 

Second, you should know that there are two options to upgrade your campaigns to Performance Max: 

1. Bulk upgrading all your campaigns at once:

How to bulk upgrade your campaigns to Performance Max in Google Ads

Begin by checking your notifications panel. Depending on which campaigns you have running, you should see a notification that might say, “upgrade Smart Shopping campaigns,” “upgrade Local campaigns,” or both. 

Click the blue ‘Apply’ button to easily upgrade all of your client’s Smart Shopping or Local campaigns to Performance Max. If you have both Smart Shopping and Local campaigns, you will need to upgrade them separately. 

You’ll be prompted to confirm you’d like to upgrade all your campaigns at once. Click ‘Apply All’ to confirm. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see a confirmation that your client’s campaigns are being upgraded! And, you’ll be notified when the upgrade process is complete, which should typically take less than a day.

You can also switch to Performance Max through your Recommendations page by selecting ‘Apply All.’ 

2. Selecting specific campaigns to upgrade at the same time:

Selecting specific campaigns in Google Ads to upgrade to Performance Max.

Selecting the campaigns you’d like to upgrade lets you customize when and how you upgrade your client’s Smart Shopping and Local campaigns. You can do this on your Recommendations page or Campaigns page.

On the Recommendations page, click the' View' option instead of clicking ‘Apply All’ on the card recommending Performance Max. This will take you to more details about Performance Max and the upgrade process.

Now you can go ahead and select the individual campaigns you want to upgrade. Next, you’ll click ‘Apply’ at the top of the page, and that’s it! 

If you’re upgrading your client’s campaigns on the Campaigns page, make sure you filter for ‘Smart Shopping’ or ‘Local campaigns’ or both. This will make it easier to see the campaigns that can be upgraded to Performance Max. You can also filter by ‘Campaign type upgrade status’ if you want to see whether an upgrade is available, in progress, or completed. 

How to filter by campaign type in Google Ads

Next, choose the campaigns you’d like to upgrade. Click ‘edit’ at the top, then click ‘upgrade to Performance Max.’ Confirm your selections by clicking ‘Apply’ on the popup window, and that’s it!

Whichever way you choose to upgrade, you can keep track of your client’s progress on your Campaigns page. Your existing Smart Shopping and Local campaigns will continue running until the upgrades are complete. 

Agency Tip: If you hover over ‘Performance Max Upgraded’ under the ‘Campaign type’ column, your old Smart Shopping or Local campaign will be linked. The old campaign will now be removed and no longer editable, but you’ll still be able to view historical data from your client’s previous campaigns.

How to view previous Smart Shopping or Local campaign data in Google Ads

New Features To Grow Your Client’s Business With Performance Max

According to Google, advertisers who upgraded their Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max (during the early beta testing days) saw an average increase of 12% in conversion value at the same or better return on ad spend (ROAS).

Although Performance Max has the same foundational features as Smart Shopping and Local campaigns, there are some brand new inventory and automation insights you’ll want to take advantage of. 

1. Focus on new customers:

The new customer acquisition goal in Performance Max is ideal for advertisers looking to generate leads or increase online sales. This was previously available for retailers using Smart Shopping campaigns but is now expanding to more advertiser goals in Performance Max.

Select customer acquisition goals in Google Ads Performance Max to optimize new customer bids

This goal will allow you to either bid more for new customers compared to existing customers or focus your optimizations on new customers only while maintaining your cost efficiency. You’ll also have more flexibility when identifying new customers, like providing your first-party data through Customer Match lists, setting up conversion tags, and using Google’s autodetection method.

2. Guide your campaigns with helpful insights:

The Insights page helps agencies understand decisions guided by automation and find ways to improve results in your client’s campaigns. And, consumer interest insights will help you uncover search themes that deliver conversions. Two new types of insights are also arriving for Performance Max.

With asset audience insights, you’ll be able to understand better how your text, image, and video assets resonate with specific customer segments. For example, if one of your clients owns a clothing boutique, you may notice that their customers engage more with images of people wearing the items, rather than a generic product image. You can tailor the creative and influence the broader marketing strategy using these insights.

After creating your Performance Max campaigns, diagnostic insights will provide a snapshot of outstanding setup issues preventing your client’s ads from showing. Each issue will include suggestions to resolve them, so you can easily and quickly get their campaigns up and running. For example, if the creative assets are disapproved, you’ll be prompted to fix them so you can start serving their ads and avoid missing out on conversion opportunities.

Challenges Agencies Are Experiencing with Performance Max

There will always be differing opinions whenever more automation is introduced to digital marketing platforms. Some challenges that agencies are experiencing so far with Performance Max include: 

  • Traffic Drops Dramatically: When selecting ‘optimize this campaign for acquiring new customers,’ you will see a decrease in traffic. Our PPC expert and Performance Max tester, Lindsay, suggests agencies test the recommended setting of bidding higher, including for new customers. 

  • Conversion Goals Must Be Clear: You run the risk of your campaigns underperforming if you are not clear about the goals your agency sets. 

  • Limited Data: Extracting specific insights for campaigns or asset combinations is currently a bit difficult. Google is adding more reporting features, but currently, agencies are unable to clearly understand where platform-specific traffic is coming from, ie., YouTube, Search, or Display. 

  • Wasting Client's Money: Agencies need to properly set up and optimize Google Performance Max campaigns, otherwise, you could waste a lot of your client’s money on poorly crafted campaigns. 

  • Loss of Control: The automation of Performance Max takes away the control agencies are used to when it comes to going through data and optimizing campaigns.

However, keep in mind that despite some of these initial drawbacks, your agency only has two choices. Upgrade now or upgrade later. The choice of whether or not to upgrade at all is currently off the table.    

Best Practices & Tips For All Business Types: 

Google’s practice guide recommends utilizing these best practices to properly set up your client’s Performance Max campaigns to achieve success and help further optimize results if needed:

  • Run campaigns for at least 6 weeks to allow the machine learning algorithm to ramp up and have sufficient data to compare performance.

  • Add at least 5 versions of text assets (4 headlines, 5 descriptions) to your asset group.

  • Add at least 5 versions of image assets, including (1200x1200), to your asset group.

  • Use as many assets as possible, including video assets. If you don’t include video assets, Performance Max will create them out of the assets you’ve uploaded. There is currently no way to opt-out of this, so if you want control over the videos shown, you need to provide them. 

  • Use relevant audience lists as Signals to speed up machine learning ramp-up. This helps optimize campaigns faster and acquire additional customers for your clients.

  • Set the right budget and corresponding bid strategy. If your daily budget is too low and your target CPA is too high, your campaigns likely won’t be super successful. Your budget and bid strategy should be complimentary of each other.

  • Utilize Google Ads Conversion Tracking rather than Google Analytics conversion import to track video views or cross-device conversions. 

  • When testing your Performance Max campaigns, try not to run existing targeting enabled on other campaigns. Performance Max campaigns will take priority over other campaign types such as Smart Shopping. 

Be sure to reference Google’s full list of optimization tips for online sales, lead generation, and more here. 

Automated PPC Reporting for Agencies

Agencies have been getting used to the idea of automation - bidding, rules, dynamic text, and more - but whether you love it or hate it, Performance Max is here to stay. And, if you want to maintain some level of control before Google automatically updates your campaigns for you, update your existing Smart Shopping and Local campaigns before September 2022.

Why stop there! Automating the data-retrieval process saves your agency many hours of manual reporting each week and gives you back control over your time. Access all your clients’ live PMax campaign results in a Google Ads dashboard. With updates in real-time, your agency’s dedicated team members have access to the data needed to monitor and make important tweaks to campaigns. 

And chances are that your agency runs more than just Google Performance Max campaigns for its clients. This means a lot of data to collect regarding client reporting. Automated PPC reporting software helps you set up your customized, white label reports in minutes. Once each client is set up, put your whole reporting process on autopilot.

AgencyAnalytics’ Google Ads Reporting tool gives your agency a seamless PPC reporting experience so you can sit back and watch as reports build themselves. Start your free 14-day trial today.

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Written by

Richelle Peace

Richelle Peace is a joyful writer with a degree in Journalism. She loves writing web content, blogs, and social media posts. Whatever the topic, she’s fascinated by learning and sharing.

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