Now that Google has launched the new Performance Max (PMax) campaign type, the search community is attempting to learn how it fits into their ongoing search strategy. Once you get past all of the basic questions, start feeling comfortable and prepare to launch, there is one final important question: How will we handle reporting for this somewhat ambiguous campaign type? Let’s explore.
The Current State of PMax
While this blog expands on reporting and insights in its current state, we anticipate this not being the final state for PMax’s capabilities. In fact, we have already seen Google make updates to the functionality of PMax campaigns. PMax was introduced in Q1 2022 and was housed exclusively in Google Ads. As of May 25th, just months after its introduction, Google updated the campaigns to have full Floodlight support with the ability to integrate into Search Ads 360 (SA360). Judging by this example, we can likely expect some further improvements and changes in the future, but exactly what those look like remains to be seen. In the meantime, let’s take a look at what’s available, starting with the Insights Tab.
In a nutshell, the reporting capabilities of PMax are somewhat limited in its current form. As you click into a live campaign, you can see a list of options alongside the left handrail in Google Ads that expand and include an Insights tab, Asset Groups (similar to Ad Groups in a traditional search campaign but including the video and display assets), Listing Groups for your shopping feed if applicable, Extensions and Product breakdowns for Shopping assets if applicable.
As you click into the Insights tab, you can select either a week-over-week or month-over-month view and you’ll see a table below populated with conversion value, cost, ROAS and conversions for your selected period. Scrolling down further, you can see search terms grouped into categories and the number of searches that have occurred within each category for the period, along with the corresponding conversion value and a rough estimate of search volume. The high level of insights available in this tab seems on trend with how this campaign type is managed, having the idea that you provide all the assets and audiences and then let Google’s automation take the reins while you see conversions come in. While it does seem that Performance Max is living up to its name thus far, many might appreciate some more advanced reporting.
Within the Asset Groups tab, you can manage what assets are in each group, but there are currently no metrics or reporting capabilities. As you look further down the list to Listing Groups, you can see a table with columns very similar to what you would see in any other Google Ads campaign. You can edit columns here to include most metrics (clicks, impressions, CTR, cost, conversions, etc.) and this will show you the data for each of your product lists if you have included a shopping feed with your PMax campaign.
The next bit is more of a workaround than an actual reporting function but will get you a high-level idea about which channel is driving your data from PMax. If you back out from your PMax campaign and look at the “All Campaign” view in Google Ads, you will see the normal table populated with whichever columns you choose (clicks, impressions, CTR, cost, conversions, etc.). You can subtract the data you’ve seen in the Listing Groups tab from the data you see in the “All Campaigns” view to get the division of volume between the shopping aspect of PMax and the other assets (traditional search, video & display). While this will not show the data-driven specifically by each channel (search, video & display), it will let you know the overarching division of Shopping vs. Other.
Another workaround lets you see which landing pages are driving data from your PMax campaign. When in Google Ads, you can navigate to the Reports tab, hover over Basic and select a Landing Page Report. Once that report populates, you can filter “Campaign” to only show your PMax campaign and you will see which landing pages your users are being driven to. With this information, you can take some of the lower-performing landing pages and set them as landing page exclusions within your campaign settings, which could potentially help you run your campaign more efficiently.
Additional Tips and Considerations
- Building Custom Reports: Building a custom report, or even using the predefined reports, can get you a bit more granular in the PMax data, but you will still run into similar roadblocks here that you would within the campaigns tab itself. You can see additional metrics such as device breakdown, final landing page, etc. However, when you add in “Network” in an attempt to see data serving on search partners vs. display partners, everything is listed as “Cross-network”. Similarly, when you add in the dimension “Click Type,” all of your data is listed as “Mixed,” which leads you back to the ambiguity of not knowing which channel is driving which data. Lastly, when you add in traditional search metrics such as “Headline 1” or “Keyword ID” in an attempt to separate out the traditional search data, you get the overarching response of “No statistics match your filter”.
In general, building a custom report could be useful to get you some additional data, but it will not differentiate between channels. While the latter seems to be the big-ticket item most users are wanting with reporting, the former can still be helpful when assessing your campaign performance.
- Run Performance Max with as few constraints as possible. Because PMax campaigns are heavily automated, Google will optimize your campaigns best when it has maximum flexibility to capture conversions. Keep a close eye on any flags for budget constraints when launching your campaigns and increase budgets promptly to ensure you get a fair and accurate test and do not miss out on conversions.
- For any users currently running Smart Shopping campaigns, keep in mind that these will be automatically switched to PMax campaigns in the coming months. Google has released a plan that will go into effect between July and August 2022.
- Integrate your campaigns with SA360 (if applicable) ASAP. The value of using Floodlights for bidding is extremely high if you are already utilizing it for other campaign types and even more so if you have multiple platforms in your Google toolbelt like Display & Video 360 (DV360) and/or Campaign Manager 360 (CM360). The inclusion of Floodlights for bidding brings in a whole new degree of accuracy and efficiency for SA360 users who utilize Floodlights for advanced bidding compared to traditional bid strategies.
- Add as many assets as possible (including a shopping feed if available), especially a video. From our conversations with representatives at Google, the video portion is the most important asset in the PMax campaign. Additionally, if you do not provide your own video, PMax will take your display assets and create a video for you that views like a slideshow. While this will fulfill the video requirements, you should avoid it if possible as it is not optimal for driving relevant traffic.
Ultimately, there needs to be a certain amount of trust in the system as it pertains to the limited reporting capabilities with PMax. As 2022 progresses, we anticipate that there will be further improvements on reporting and insights, but even keeping all of the limitations in mind, the ROI seems to be positive which is the most important factor when it comes to any marketing efforts.
We are very excited about the new updates coming from Google in 2022. Keep an eye on the Adswerve blog for more info. And if you still have questions, reach out and we will be happy to help.