Google Performance Max Campaigns 101 & Best Practices

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Google Performance Max Campaigns 101 & Best Practices


Google Performance Max Campaigns 101 & Best Practices


By now, you’re well aware of Google sunsetting Smart Shopping to make way for the next generation of Google Ads campaigns–Performance Max. With rollouts mostly complete, Google Performance Max updates will officially be the go-to Google Ads campaign sometime this month, ensuring businesses are well prepared to crush their marketing goals for the holiday season.

If you’re wondering what changes Google Performance Max will bring to your marketing efforts, you’re not alone. Today, we’ll walk you through the basics of Performance Max, including the most prevalent benefits, potential downsides, and a few best practices for optimizing your Performance Max campaigns for the utmost success.

What is a Performance Max Campaign?

Performance Max is a fully automated, goal-based Google Ads campaign driven by AI, machine learning, and your inputs to achieve your most important performance objectives.

Performance Max Google Ads unlock your campaign’s full potential across all Google Ads inventory (Shopping Ads, Gmail, Display and YouTube, Google Search, Discovery, and Google Maps), delivering a fully automated campaign that saves you time while improving your odds of reaching your intended audience. Oh, and it’s all done from one single campaign. Cool, right?

Here are four key benefits of Performance Max campaigns you should be aware of:

Find More Customers Based On Your Goals

With the entire Google Ads library at your fingertips, you can engage with customers across all Google inventory from one single campaign based on the goals set forth at the beginning of the campaign.

Performance Max campaigns allow you to set different values for your conversions in order to drive the highest ROI, whether those conversions are for online sales, lead generation, or offline sales.

Leverage Automated Bidding & Drive More Value From Your Budget

With your goals set in place, Google Performance Max will leverage automated bidding and targeting technology to deliver tailored ads to your target customer, wherever they might be across the Google Ads inventory. 

This automated bidding strategy effortlessly allocates spend to the highest-ROI opportunities discovered. Add data-driven attribution to the mix (an optional feature), and you’ll have additional opportunities to convert browsers into buyers.

There are also options to use Maximize Conversions With tROAS or tCPA, which basically allow you to choose where Google should set their bids. It’s recommended that you use Maximize Conversions with tROAS primarily to control and set the original bid Google should target, then make changes within that to help guide the automation throughout the course of your campaign.

Learn About Your Audience Through Rich Insights & Transparency

Performance Max Google Ads also help streamline daily performance insights so you can gather the most relevant information on your campaign performance. This extensive data library can help you quickly identify strengths and weaknesses in your campaign for quick adjustments and better results down the road.

Steer Automation with Google’s Best Automation Tools

With Performance Max, you’ll also have access to top Google Ads automation tools and property auction data to identify user inputs, accelerate the campaign learning period, and steer automation for better results in less time.

Potential Drawbacks of Google Performance Max

Since the Performance Max rollout, we’ve noticed that accounts with less than $10k in Performance Max/month often experience longer learning times than accounts with larger ad spend budgets. Additionally, Performance Max may cannibalize other campaigns based on its determination of “not enough budget” or “low ad rank/lack of negatives,” both of which can really attack branded ads.

As of now, Performance Max Campaigns have way more volume than Smart Shopping (and better performance in most cases). Because of that, you also have to be super targeted and diligent about the changes you’re making to your campaign. 

Any changes made during the long learning period can have drastic effects and need to be carefully measured. If you’re going the fully automated route, don’t change any assets for 2-4 weeks. If you’re choosing to use maximize conversions with tCPA or tROAS, make small tweaks once a week to guide performance as needed

How to Optimize Performance Max Campaigns

Learn how to create a Performance Max campaign that shines, and you’ll improve your chances of a successful campaign. Here are a few key factors to pay attention to.

Creative Assets

Performance Max uses your assets to create various ads for different channels. Since Performance Max will auto-generate ad formats, you’ll want to ensure you have as many versions of fresh, quality creative assets as possible to go along with them. These include text, image, and video assets. Here is what we recommend–coincidentally, it’s the same amount that Google Performance Max allows you to have at one time 😉:

Text Assets

  • Final URL
  • Five headlines
  • Five long headlines
  • Description
  • Short description
  • Business name
  • Call-to-Action
  • Display URL path

Image Assets

  • Up to 15 Landscape, square image, and portrait images
  • Up to 5 square and landscape logos

Video Assets

  • 10 seconds of Horizontal, vertical, and square videos

Audience Signals

Audience Signals are a beneficial tool that can speed up and improve performance. As you build your Performance Max campaign, Audience Signals allows you to share pertinent audience information about which audiences are more likely to convert for a particular asset group. 

Due to the extended learning period of Performance Max, it’s recommended that you use a customer list from the last 365 days, plus a custom audience with your top keywords and competitor keywords to guide your campaign. If you’re not using a custom audience you should use an in-market audience that suits your business best.

Excellent Ad Strength

The Performance Max Ad Strength tool is a real-time feedback tool intended to help guide you on how strong or weak your asset group set-up is. You’ll want to take advantage of this feature to ensure you have the best mix of quality assets on your campaign for optimal performance. “Good” is good, but “Excellent” is the goal to strive for!

The Bottom Line

All-in-all, Performance Max has vastly increased the performance of many accounts and is a better version of Smart Shopping. With proper setup and regular monitoring of your campaigns, the audiences it’s showing for, and the search terms it’s showing ads for, you’ll most likely see great performance. Even still, we wouldn’t recommend Performance Max as the end-all-be-all to your ad efforts. Here’s why:

Just because Performance Max can run ads across all channels, it doesn’t mean you should or even need to. You may be better off with a robust setup for all the places you want to advertise that you can control, including what gets bid on and what you leave out of your campaign.

As a data-driven paid search agency, we understand the complexities of building a solid paid ad strategy (the foundation of your entire marketing campaign) and have the industry experience and know-how to ensure every penny is wisely spent. Contact us today to discuss whether a Performance Max campaign is right for you and to learn how our PPC services can boost your existing paid ad efforts.

About the Author

Austen 1

Austen Wiley

Hey everybody, Austen Wiley here, PPC Manager at Digital Position! I'm great at PPC, but even better at being a father of two children and husband to a wonderful wife. I've lived in Texas my whole life, and so has my family.

I golf at least once a week, and I'm actually pretty good at first-person shooters, so I'm transitioning from my 20s to my 30s with ease!

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