Smart Shopping Upgrade to Performance Max | Key Changes!

In the present era, a substantial portion of overall sales is attributed to online transactions, facilitated either through direct website access or via advertising channels. According to Statista, in 2022, e-commerce represented nearly 19 percent of retail sales worldwide, and the website forecasts that in 2027, this percentage should rise to 25%.

In this scenario, businesses that fail to broaden their perspective to encompass the global market may encounter significant challenges and miss out on crucial opportunities to enhance their revenue.

Thinking about the potential of online sales, Google has taken an important step in the right direction, putting at the disposal of retailers, marketers, and business owners Performance Max, a new type of campaign that considers automated processes and AI as a core of the deployment of advertisements.

This is why Google has decided, at the end of 2022, to replace Smart Shopping, the previous platform to promote products and services of the American giant, and local campaigns with Performance Max campaigns.

In the following lines, we’ll see how Smart Shopping upgraded to Performance Max and all the benefits that this conversion has brought to us and the online sales world.

Performance Max Campaign vs Smart Shopping Campaign: Key Differences

Performance Max CampaignSmart Shopping Campaign
Complete automationVast manual work
Quick setupIntricate setup
Ads across multiple placementsAds displayed on Google Ads, the Shopping Tab, and Google Images
Basic reportingDetailed reporting
You can insert negative keywords at an account levelYou can add negative keywords at both account and campaign levels
Not accurate targeting; at least you use audience signalsVery accurate targeting
No bid adjustmentsBid adjustments

What Was Smart Shopping?

Google Smart Shopping campaing

Smart Shopping campaigns are no longer available since the last days of 2022. Smart Shopping campaigns were very popular in their time as an excellent option to put products and services in the display case and at the front of online sales. It used automated bidding to facilitate the process of reaching the best ad placements for your products and services. This way, shopping advertisements reached a broader audience. 

Some crucial features of Smart Shopping campaigns were the following:

  • A longer period to configure elements.
  • Needed manual testing of elements, such as text and image combinations.
  • Smart campaigns provided complete control over the campaign but with a higher management time.
  • Smart Shopping allowed you to target specific locations, turn off placements, and add negative keywords.
  • Previous Smart Shopping campaigns enabled you to add various landing pages to separate products and test ads.
  • Your products only appeared in search results and the shopping section.

What Is Performance Max?

Performance Max and statistics


Performance Max was originally released in 2021 as a different type of campaign to maintain consistent performance throughout the entire inventory of Google Ads. Google Performance Max ads usually experience a higher conversion rate than their regular counterparts as well as you have less control over its features such as the bid strategy and others. Here, you can find out in detail what is Performance Max in Google Ads.

The core of Performance Max is automation and the possibility to transfer and use your campaign settings, such as goals, assets, budget, and bidding for a better performance of ads. This way, new Performance Max features allow you to leave it in Google’s hands to decide the best sites and audiences to target.

To use PMax effectively, you must provide Google Ads with the following data:

  • Marketing objectives;
  • Creative assets (text, images, video);
  • Budget;
  • Geotargeting;
  • Product feeds (optional);
  • Business data feeds;
  • Audience signals (optional)
  • Targeted Audiences;
  • Google My Business account;
  • Google Merchant Center account.

Benefits of New Performance Max Campaigns

PMax benefits

Smart Shopping Campaigns advertisers have particularly benefited from the automatic upgrades from Smart Shopping to PMax. Thanks to each self-upgrade tool, retailers, marketers, and advertisers will experience the following benefits:

  • They create a single consolidated campaign. When they upgrade Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max, marketers will manage a single campaign containing all the assets of all other Google Ads campaigns.
  • They minimize efforts and get the best results. Just by providing crucial information, such as creative assets, objectives, ad groups, and more, Performance Max will do the best for your purposes. 
  • They leverage AI from a new Performance Max campaign. When starting automatic upgrades, marketers will empower their campaigns thanks to AI, which will display compelling advertisements to potential customers.

Smart Shopping Upgrades

It‘s worth mentioning that, among all the upgrades that Smart Shopping offers, there are three that revolutionized the functionality of this and other campaigns. Let’s discuss them.

Smart Shopping upgrade to PMax
  • New ad inventory available. With the release of Performance Max, you can make a significant jump from Smart Shopping ads to PMax ads across all the Google inventory, such as:
    • Search.
    • Display.
    • Discover.
    • YouTube.
    • Maps.
    • Gmail. 
  • Optimized bids. In Smart Shopping, you could create different campaigns with unique goals and bids. Performance Max uses automated bids to optimize performance according to historical data on your account. We’ve explained thoroughly how to optimize Performance Max campaign if you want to learn more. 
  • New automation insights. Thanks to machine learning, Performance Max, as a good improvement of Smart Shopping, includes robust reporting for deeper insights into audiences and ad behavior.

Performance Max vs. Smart Shopping – Main Differences

PMax vs. Smart Shopping campaign

Source: Mycodelesswebsite.

Let’s delve deeper into the most important section of this article, where we face Smart Shopping vs Performance Max to clarify the main features and possibilities.

Various Types of Formats

With the implementation of Performance Max, and the lack of need to start new Smart Shopping Campaigns, you can utilize several types of formats, which include text ads, display ads, shopping ads, and more. This way, you can access additional inventory and display a wide range of formats and assets in a single campaign.

Asset Groups Are Crucial in Performance Max

Assets groups are a sum of “creatives” with a similar topic or theme that are focused on a particular targeted audience. Images, videos, headlines, long headlines, and descriptions constitute creatives. All creatives are put together in a single group. Previously, in Smart Shopping, you managed asset groups containing similar assets.

In this context, a good practice is to add as many assets as you can. Keep in mind that now all your multiple campaigns will be together in a single Performance Max campaign, so having the most assets possible is the best. 

In Performance Max, You can Select Different Conversion Goals

Performance Max conversion goals

Contrary to Smart Shopping, where you had to select just one goal, for instance, clicks or sales, In PMax, you can select different conversion goals with various conversion values. In PMax, there are five options available. Leads, Sales, Local Visitors, Website Traffic, and Promotions. This way, when selecting different conversion goals, you can give them different priorities. Besides, PMax also gives you the possibility of not selecting a particular goal. Among all campaign types, this option lets Google choose the best goals, placements, and ads.

You Can Add Audience Signals for Automated Targeting

Signals are suggestions that Google gives you according to your visitors and ad performance that automate targeting. Audience signals generally come in the form of data or statistics that Google analyzes according to the general search results pages and more.

Audience signals also allow you to add personal suggestions by using lists, such as customer lists, app user lists, email lists, and subscription lists.

You Can Also Use Listing Groups

Smart Shopping used a product feed that you linked to the Merchant Center. It incredibly facilitated things for novice retailers that wanted to leverage the capacities of this campaign type. However, since Smart Shopping is no longer available, you can still list groups where you put together products and collections. 

For instance, you can join assets, products, retail data, and much more to create a more complete campaign. Note that listing groups are the lists of products you previously used in your pre-existing Smart Shopping campaigns.

Budgets Are Combined Across Google Ads Inventories

In Smart Shopping, generally, the budget was separated from goals or the network, being an independent factor that only determined your ad ranking. In Performance Max, your budget is strictly related to inventories and performance statistics. This way, the budget is shared across multiple networks and assets in an intelligent way to enhance performance and results. 

How to Upgrade Smart Shopping to Performance Max

Ways of upgrading Smart Shopping to PMax

Source: Takesomerisk.

When will Performance Max complete automatic upgrades? Smart Shopping upgrade to Performance Max was completed in September 2023. Every ad campaign based on Smart Shopping was automatically upgraded by providing it with additional inventory and automation for better results.

Upgrade automatically: During July – September 2023, your Smart Shopping campaigns had to be automatically upgraded. It means e-commerce businesses and general retailers will no longer be able to start new Smart Shopping and Local campaigns. Still, this scenario has been left in the past, and now, all the incumbents should be capable of deploying standard Shopping campaigns through Performance Max by considering its advantages. 

The automatic upgrade process concluded at the end of September of the same year to ensure all the interested ones are well-prepared to use Performance Max for the 2022 holiday season.

Manual upgrade. Users who haven’t experienced an automatic upgrade should use the Upgrade Tool. To access it, users must explore the Campaigns page, the Google Ads Notifications, and Recommendations.

Regardless of the asset group you’re using or the size of your campaign, all the data gathered and gained from previous Smart Shopping campaigns pass directly to Performance Max. Google Ads will start automatic upgrades and will make sure that your advertising efforts keep working.

Smart Shopping vs. Performance Max – Which is Better?

Even though this question can be a bit irrelevant at this point of the match, Performance Max undoubtedly represents an advance in functionality improvements in all the existing campaigns currently in Google Ads. Marketers and retailers looking to cover a wide spectrum of audiences and networks should leverage the potential of PMax to facilitate reaching customers, achieve goals, and improve the campaign’s performance.

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