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What Are Performance Max Campaigns on Google Ads?

by Charlotte Westlake

Mar 14, 2022

What Are Performance Max Campaigns on Google Ads?

First introduced in November 2021, Performance Max is Google Ads’ shiny new campaign type focussed on driving online sales and generating leads. It will soon be replacing smart shopping and local campaigns with the end of Q3 2022 circled in the diary. With this in mind, we thought we’d delve a little deeper and learn why Google has introduced Performance Max and what you can expect. 


A quick breakdown.

With Performance Max campaigns, Google automates both the targeting and delivery of your ads based on the information that you provide. After supplying Google with a bank of assets that include ad copy, a call to action and images or videos, the rest is taken care of. 

This campaign type uses all of Google’s channels including YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps, to run tests and decide which works best for your brand. 


Automation & Machine Learning. 

Google Ads have been introducing more automation and machine learning on their platform in recent times with Performance Max only building on this further. It is an objective-based campaign type that uses machine learning to show your ads to the right audiences. It combines many of the previously released automation tools into one and is designed to complement your keyword-based Search campaigns. 


What does Google say?

Google lists many benefits of using Performance Max campaigns on its support page with those listed below some of the big ones: 

  1. Find more converting customers 
  2. Easily optimise your ads 
  3. Drive more value
  4. Acquire rich insights

Google also suggests using Performance Max campaigns when you aren’t limited by which channels you want to appear on, you’d like access to all channels through one campaign and you would like to gain additional reach beyond keyword-based search campaigns. Google also advises that these campaigns are the best option if you have specific performance goals – such as driving online sales and lead generation. 


Some of the challenges with Performance Max campaigns.

  • Some marketers have found that Performance Max campaigns end up cannibalizing other, higher-performing individual channels. Although Google has stated that in theory, your existing Search campaigns should be prioritized over Performance Max campaigns if a query exactly matches a keyword within your existing campaigns.


  • It is hard to come to terms with the lack of control over things such as search term & keyword exclusion, placement exclusions, device bid adjustments and all of the other vital optimisations usually available. 


  • Reporting is currently lacking in transparency with Performance Max campaigns. Although this may improve with Google Ads updates, advertisers cannot currently see which channel the ads were shown on, the placements of display ads or which assets have performed best. It also gives very limited insight into data in general, with only one view that provides surface-level insights. 


  • The only bid strategy currently available is to maximise conversions with the option to set a target ROAS should you wish to. Again, this limits the amount of control the marketer has and cannot trial different strategies. 


To summarise, 

It’s no shock to those who have been using Google Ads for a while that each new element of the platform is even more automated than the last, but there are valid concerns that accompany the intrigue. While automation and machine learning is something to embrace, letting go of the control we are used to is tricky business. Like most things, what works for one brand may not work for another and there is only one way to see if it works for you! 


PPC got you perplexed? 

The team at Peaky Digital keep up to date with all the Google Ads updates to make sure that they can help with all questions fired their way. So, whether you’ve dabbled in paid search in the past and need some fresh eyes to offer some new suggestions, or are completely new to paid search, our team can help! Just get in touch today.


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