What is Performance Max?
Performance Max is the name given to a new type of Google Ads campaign, which is distinguished by almost complete automation. As an advertiser, there are very few decisions to make. In general, you tell the system what your goal is, and the system will then use artificial intelligence across targeting, bidding, budgeting, and creatives to achieve it. For example, even the ad networks are chosen automatically, such as search, display, YouTube, Gmail, Discover, and Maps.
Google describes Performance Max as “a way to compliment keyword-based search,” which indicates that it intends to seek exposure from those who are most likely to convert — i.e., have high intent – rather than just anyone who might view or click.
The Performance Max campaign type can be chosen after selecting “Sales”, “Leads”, “Local”, or “Create a Campaign Without a Goal’s Guidance” in the initial “Choose Your Objective” section of campaign setup.
Keep in mind that when Performance Max is chosen as the campaign type, there are no ad groups. Campaigns only have a single targeting set, which eliminates the need for them.
Targeting is automated in Performance Max campaigns, meaning that Google will focus it’s artificial intelligence on delivering conversions for your configured goal. However, you can give the system some assistance, possibly speeding up optimization, by providing audience signals. This is an optional feature found at the bottom of Asset Group creation.
Here are some types of audience inputs you can use to give the system some possible guidance:
- Particular interests or purchase intentions
- People who searched specific terms on Google
- People who browse types of websites
- People who use types of apps
- Remarketing audiences
- Customer Match lists
Interests and Detailed Demographics
- In-market segments (a.k.a. people shopping)
- Life events (e.g., people planning a wedding)
- Parental Status
- Household Income
To ensure that your campaigns are optimized to drive the best ROI through automation, assign more than one goal and different values to conversion to a single campaign. With a focus on goals, PMax campaigns use automated bidding and targeting technology to help you invest your budget more efficiently.
According to Google, you can get the most bang for your buck with automation by using the same goals for all of your performance campaigns (including Performance Max). This can be achieved by setting a consistent account-level goal.
Account-level brand safety settings are also available so you can tell Google Ads about the tYPes of content where you don’t want your ads to appear.
In traditional Google Ads campaigns, you create ads within ad groups. In Performance Max campaigns, you simply create an “Asset Group” for the whole campaign. This involves adding a collection of elements that Google can pull from when it serves the ads through various platforms, pages, and feeds.
The following elements can be added:
- Asset group name
- Final URL
- Images (up to 15)
- Logos (up to 5)
- Videos (If you don’t have one, Google will create automatically when possible.)
- Headlines (up to 5)
- Long headlines (up to 5)
- Descriptions (1 60-character, and up to 4 others of up to 90 characters)
- Call to action (can use “Automated” or choose from a list of specific options)
- Business name
- Ad extensions (which extensions are available will depend on your chosen campaign objective)
As you create your asset group, you can see a preview in the right panel of how your elements might appear on various networks, such as Search, YouTube, Display, Discover, and Gmail. You can also toggle to see the difference on mobile vs. desktop.
More than one asset group can be added for each campaign.
How to Create a Performance Max Campaign?
Here are the basic steps for creating a Performance Max campaign:
- Click the blue button to create a new campaign in Google Ads
- For the campaign objective, choose either Leads, Sales, Local, or Create Without a Goal’s Guidance.
- Add the amount you’d like to spend per day, on average (budget). Keep in mind that Google might spend more on any given day, but this amount multiplied by the average number of days in a month will not be exceeded.)
- Bidding choices—What do you want to focus on? (Choices are Conversions or Conversion Value)
- Add locations you’d like to target.
- Add languages you’d like to target.
- Choose between “Final URL Expansion” or “Only send traffic to the URLs you’ve provided” (see explanation below)
- Set a schedule of particular days, or times of the day for your ad to run (optional)
- Add URL tracking template (if needed)
- Then you’ll create the Asset Group (see above)
- Lastly, you can choose to input “Audience Signals” (see above, targeting)
When it comes to URLs, there are two possible approaches: Give Google the specific URLs you want to use for landing pages, or let Google decide which URLs it wants to use from your website (a.k.a., “Final URL Expansion”). When Final URL Expansion is chosen, Google will automatically update the headline for each ad to match search intent and drive traffic to the most relevant URLs on your site. Clearly, Google prefers that you choose Final URL Expansion so that it has more flexibility. Keep in mind that if you do choose Final URL Expansion, you can choose to exclude specific URLs so that they are off-limits to be used as landing pages.
When to use a Performance Max campaign?
Performance Max campaigns offer a way to run Google Ads unlike any other. Advertisers might want to consider testing Performance Max for the following reasons:
- As a way to expand beyond search-only, keyword-targeted campaigns, thereby having ads show for high-intent viewers on the Google Display Network, on YouTube, in Discover Feeds, in Maps, and in Gmail.
- As a way to keep things simple, letting Google’s automation make most of the decisions for how the goal can be achieved, such as bidding, targeting, creatives, and more.
- As a way to compare results between this new approach and older campaigns that have been stalwarts of your business
- When you want to create more incremental touchpoints of visibility over all ad network channels
Here are some best practices recommended by Google for getting the best results from Performance Max campaigns:
- Let campaigns run for six weeks or more so that the machine-learning has enough time to learn and optimize.
- Add as many elements as possible to asset groups so Google can do a wider variety of testing with your impressions.
- When building an asset group, use the ad strength indicator (shown in the setup panel) to see if your group is being set up for success.
- Consider using audience signals to help inform the system about your type of prospect or customer and keep in mind that there is a “quality/in – quality/out” aspect to inputting audience signals.