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Everything you need to know about Performance Max

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If you haven’t encountered Google Ads Performance Max campaigns (the new kid on Google Ads’ block), you soon will. That’s because Google Ads just took a giant leap forward in its quest to automate end-to-end digital marketing and help you to engage with your customers, across different channels and devices.

So, even if you’re not running a Performance Max campaign yourself, your phone, tablet or PC is likely showing you someone else’s.

Artificial Intelligence – powered ad campaigns

We aren’t quite at the point yet where we can open a Google Ads account and say, “Hey Google! Here’s £1000. Sell my product for me and make sure I get a Return on Investment of 2:1 (at least).”

But with the new Performance Max rollout, we might be a lot closer.

Why? Because Performance Max brings Google Ads within throwing distance of introducing fully automated artificial intelligence functionality to your ad campaigns.

After all, Google knows which people are engaging with specific messages, and tracks them over almost every channel they use.

What is Performance Max?

 Replacing Local and Smart Shopping, Performance Max is a goal-based campaign type that Google designed to potentially maximise your conversions.

For some of us, that sounds like heaven and for the “control enthusiasts” among us, well… we’ll explain how we think Performance Max works and whether it meets your goals in just a moment.

What’s new with Performance Max?

Performance Max pushes out ads to wherever it thinks your buyers are best placed to see them, this can be over:

  • Display
  • Search
  • Discover
  • Maps
  • Gmail
  • Youtube

If you’re used to Google Ads, then some of the first differences you’ll notice are in audience targeting. Also, you use what’s called ‘asset groups’ instead of ad group and ad levels.

Finally, your bidding strategy is now confined to goal-based targets.

The clever bit about Performance Max is that it uses Google’s machine-learning alchemy to distribute your campaign to where it will get the most engagement, and optimises your ads to attract the people seeing them.

For example, if Gmail and YouTube look like prime locations to hit your buyers or prospects with ads for your plumbing business, that’s where the bulk of your ad traffic goes.

If trends and data change towards search and display ads, your campaign adjusts accordingly.

How do you use Performance Max?

Performance max is managed within the normal Google Ads interface, and if you’re used to running Google Ads campaigns anyway, a lot of things will feel familiar.

Choosing an asset group

You’ll need an asset group that relates closely to your industry and offering.

For example, if you’re putting your plumbing business into your asset list, you need a clear description of your offer, eye-catching before and after videos and images of your proudest boiler installations or bathroom renovation work and many other add ons that lets Google make best use of your content.

Performance Max ads can be sent out over a range of channels, so Google creates your ad from your combined assets and lets you preview how these might look in different placements, depending on how Google customises your asset content.

Who should use Performance Max?

It’s worth considering if you’ve got a sticky segment or geographic location that isn’t responding to your campaigns, Performance Max may increase your results and lower your CPA.

Tracking and reporting 

Like all campaigns, tracking and reporting is super important to understand the results and actual ROI driven by certain campaign styles. We would recommend before you think about using Performance Max (as the campaign style has the capability of getting in front of a huge number of eyes), it’s worth giving your current conversion tracking a health check to make sure it’s working as it needs to.

Our final thoughts

 We’ve done some testing on Performance Max and here are our findings so far:

  • Performance Max is genuinely innovative, AI marketing in action.
  • As an attention grabber, it’s a fantastic tool for getting eyes on your brands and ads.
  • Performance Max saves you money. If you ran a separate campaign for every channel, you’d need a much bigger budget to get the same results.

But (there’s always a but), we’ve found website bounce rates to be quite high. We think that’s because, while Performance Max’s dynamic ads are superb at getting people to your website, they can, perhaps, be too good at outlining what buyers want to see, rather than what you’re actually offering. However, over time and as the campaign style becomes more established with Google, we believe there will be functions added to the campaign settings that will allow further refinement.

We say that Performance Max— currently —is best suited to businesses focusing on brand awareness and online exposure. And for those goals, it’s a powerful tool that will only improve as Google enhances it.

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