Performance Max vs Smart Shopping: Which Ads Will Let You Rule the World in 2023?

The Google Performance Max vs Smart Shopping has been quite a debated topic recently, especially after Google announced last year it would gradually upgrade all the accounts, making PMax the only available campaign type for advertisers.

This left a lot of people (including us) wondering whether Performance will be better for their digital marketing campaigns and, if so, how exactly. Having given this a bit of thought, we at Zwebra came up with our own take on the smart shopping vs performance max problem – here it is.



What Is the Difference Between Smart Campaigns and Performance Max?

At a glance, the two types do not differ all that much, as they essentially do the same thing using the same tools. So, what is the difference between PMax and shopping campaign? It mostly has to do with the approach and user experience.

Generally, Performance Max campaigns rely more on AI, meaning there are fewer strategies and manual settings, which prevents experienced advertisers from fine-tuning their ads. Also, one has to have to create lots of content for Display Network and YouTube, as well as sign up with Google My Business and connect it to your account.

What Is a Performance Max Campaign?

Google Ads Performance Max is the newest, latest campaign type, which can be seen as a logical evolution of Smart Shopping (see below). According to Google themselves, Performance Max is a goal-based campaign type that allows performance advertisers to access all of Google Ads inventory from a single campaign.

So, what is Performance Max in terms of functionality? PMax combines the features of the Standard Shopping campaigns (ads shown on Google search) with the retargeting aspect of Smart Shopping and a dynamic search aspect that can make text ads for you inside Google Search. Does Performance Max include shopping? In that regard, yes.

In addition to the already existing YouTube, Search, Display and Gmail, two new placements have been added to PMax campaigns:

  • Google Maps
  • Google Discover

What Is a Smart Campaign in Google Ads?

Now that we’ve shed a little light on the PMax campaigns, let’s cover the “What is a Google Smart Campaign” question as well. Long story short, Smart Shopping campaigns came to replace what would be later referred to as Standard Shopping campaigns in May 2018.

This new campaign type was aimed at a wide audience of people with little to no experience in online ads. Naturally, the user interface and the whole campaign setup process were simplified to the point where it took less than 5 minutes on average to launch a campaign.

The downside, however, was the fact that a lot of settings and data that users could previously control in Standard shopping campaigns were not available anymore as Google’s AI took over. This upset some of the more experienced advertisers while expanding the audience of Google Ads greatly. 

So, what is a Smart Campaign Google Ads? Here are its main features in a nutshell:

  • The easy and quick setup process
  • Relies on automation
  • More network placements
  • Requires historical/conversion data to learn before yielding positive results
  • Limited insights are given (compared to Standard)

So that’s the answer to the “What is Google Smart Shopping campaign?” question.


Is Performance Max Replacing Smart Shopping?

Google is not making PMax an optional update – since April 2022, they have been upgrading advertisers with a one-click tool. So, if you have a Smart Shopping campaign running right now, it will probably be automatically transitioned into Performance Max sometime soon (if it hasn’t already).

Is Performance Max better than Standard Shopping? As of yet, there is no definitive answer to this question, as so many factors may be involved (type of business, ad budget, campaign goals, etc.).

Speaking from our own experience, we’ve seen Performance Max campaigns showing better results for long-term campaigns. 

Should I Use the Performance Max Campaign?

Well, it’s not really a matter of choice, since Google has already decided on that for us. However, if you’re still on the fence about PMax campaigns, we strongly suggest you give them a try.

While doing so, don’t make quick judgements though – let a campaign run for 2–3 months before deciding whether it’s the right fit for your business.

How Can Zwebra Help with Digital Marketing of Your Online Store?

We are a Toronto-based team of e-commerce experts offering professional digital marketing services to anyone who’s willing to get more out of their ad campaigns: better ROI, more customers, and growing brand recognition.

We will help you to create a digital marketing strategy that will work best for your business, your niche, and your audience. As we don’t believe in the ‘one size fits all’ approach, our specialists always pick the tools and methods that will deliver noticable results for a particular campaign, whether it’s Google Performance Max or something else.

Ready to get started? Rech out to us using the form below or simply browse our case studies to see what Zwebra can do for your business.

Let’s Talk
About Your Project

Keep Reading

PPC for Ecommerce: Things to Focus On in 2023

PPC for Ecommerce: Things to Focus On in 2023

What is eCommerce PPC marketing? How do I do PPC for eCommerce websites? What are the trends of eCommerce advertising and marketing in 2022 and what you should focus on in 2023?