Performance Marketing

Unleashing the Power Of Google Ads With Performance Max

Performance Max is the future of Google Ads. So, what exactly is Performance Max (PMax) and why should you care?

BY: Matt Freeman Senior Director Paid Search

PUBLISHED: 9/14/2023

MERGE delves into the world of Performance Max, exploring its features, benefits, limitations, and how it could potentially revolutionize your advertising strategy.

What Is Performance Max?

Performance Max is a conversion-based campaign that takes advantage of all of Google’s inventory to serve ads and drive conversions that are most important to your business. Performance Max is built around one core concept: automation. PMax uses machine learning and AI to serve ads to the right customers at the right time. 

Performance Max is designed to work in tandem with your existing search campaigns and find new, highly qualified customers across all of Google’s inventory. This includes Search, Shopping, Display, YouTube, Gmail, Discovery, and Maps. So how does PMax work? It drives conversions by optimizing performance in real-time and across channels using AI and smart bidding. It looks at things like bidding, budgets, audiences, creative, and attribution, and determines how and when to serve a potential customer an ad. The beauty of Performance Max lies in its adaptability to your specific advertising goals, whether it's achieving a target cost per acquisition (tCPA) or a target return on ad spend (tROAS). And the best part is, while it serves on these other traditionally more mid- and upper-funnel networks such as Display, YouTube, Gmail, Discovery, and Maps, it is still charged on a cost-per-click model, so you get the best of both worlds - reach and conversions. 

When to Embrace Performance Max?

Nearly every advertiser in every industry can make a case for Performance Max. After all, it’s a performance campaign and it’s designed to drive conversions. For eCommerce accounts, PMax is a no-brainer as it will fully replace smart shopping campaigns. While Google is still fine-tuning its potential for lead generation, dipping your toes into Performance Max with lead generation campaigns will give you an advantage over your competitors – especially if it aligns with your goals or budget. 

For optimal results, Google advises that Performance Max works best for lead gen when offline sales/conversion data is imported into Google Ads. No matter the vertical, Performance Max campaigns streamline the process of reaching the right audience with the right message through automation, creating efficiency within the Google account and for the marketers themselves. 

Although Performance Max was designed as a performance-driven campaign, Google has rolled out a new customer acquisition goal for the campaign. This new goal allows you to efficiently acquire new customers through your Performance Max campaign by bidding higher for new customers or optimize the campaign to exclusively bid for new customers only. This new feature allows advertisers to continue maximizing revenue, while also driving more new customers within a single campaign. The “new customers only” feature is specifically designed for advertisers with dedicated acquisition budgets. 

Exploring Limitations and Drawbacks

It can’t all be good, right? Well, almost. One of the main limitations of Performance Max is lack of control. As marketers, we love to have our hands in everything. We love to tinker with bids, ad copy, and pull as many levers as we can to drive the results we want to see. With PMax, almost all of that is taken away…on purpose. 

There is very little control to optimize the campaign outside of implementing a target ROAS/CPA bid strategy. But it’s important to remember, this is a PERFORMANCE driven campaign. If the campaign is hitting its goal, that is the only thing that matters. It shouldn’t matter how many impressions are being served on YouTube, or what percentage of the budget is being allocated to Display. Here at MERGE, we let the data speak for itself. So, if the PMax campaign is meeting or exceeding the goal, the campaign is doing its job. 

Key Factors for Success

A robust Performance Max campaign hinges on several crucial factors:

- Clear Goals or Objectives: Define measurable campaign goals. It can be conversions, traffic, reach, new customers, etc. This will guide your campaign strategy.
- High Quality Assets: Create compelling and engaging ad assets, including headlines, descriptions, images, and videos. These assets should be visually appealing and relevant to your target audience. Follow Google’s asset best practices, especially for videos and images, and use the maximum number of assets available at all times.
- Finely Tuned Product Feed (eCommerce advertisers): A fine tuned, frequently optimized product feed is essential to the success of any Performance Max campaign as it increases serving eligibility and enables dynamic, real time information to drive the strongest results possible
- Accurate Conversion Tracking: This will ensure accurate measurement of the campaign. With the recent addition of GA4, our Analytics team has been able to get more accurate reporting data which leads to better insights.
- Audience Targeting: Define your target audience based on demographics, interests, behaviors, etc. Utilize first party data to ensure you are targeting the right audience. This enhances personalization and ad relevance which should improve engagement, conversions, and overall campaign success.
- Limit Restrictions: Try to avoid applying too many restrictions to Google’s automation. Enable landing page expansion, avoid restricting demographics, avoid over-segmentation of asset groups/listing groups, and let the Audience Insights guide your Audience Signals.
- Flexibility: Don’t be afraid to make adjustments or changes as you gain learnings from your Performance Max campaign.

PMax is here to stay, it is time to define your future. Contact MERGE’s team of Paid Search professionals today to take the next step in outflanking the competition!