5 Performance Max best practices from a PPC expert

March 21, 2024

Watch Autumn explain her 3 biggest tips, then read on for even more insights!

Advertisers are starting to see great success with their Performance Max (PMAX) campaigns. They have been growing in popularity in Google Ads and are now available Globally in Microsoft Ads, too! Many Paid Search managers now consider it best practice to have at least one Performance Max campaign running in their Google Ads account. They are great for finding high-converting customers not only on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) but across all of Google’s other channels like YouTube, Display, Gmail, and Maps.

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PMAX campaigns learn as they go. While they take around 6 weeks to mature, they’ll continue to get more efficient over time. That said, there are several ways to speed up their learning process and set up your campaigns for success. Follow these 5 tips to get the best possible results from your PMAX campaigns.

1. Add high-quality creative assets

Adding high-quality assets is one of the most important steps in setting up a successful Performance Max campaign. Advertisers should add a variety of asset types to ensure that their ad can serve on many different channels and placements. 

Text assets

Text assets include the headlines and descriptions for your PMAX campaign’s text ads.

First, you will want to add headlines. You can add up to 15, and filling all 15 slots with headline variations will allow you to include more keywords in your copy, which will improve ad quality. Think about the keywords that you would want to target if this were a traditional paid search campaign. Then, incorporate those keywords into your ad copy. The more relevant keywords you include, the higher the likelihood that your ad will serve. 

Once you’ve optimized your headlines, you can add up to 4 descriptions. It is best to include a call to action in each of them. Descriptions can have up to 90 characters and it is best to use as many characters as possible to take up more space on the page and include as much relevant information and keywords as you can.

Image assets

Next, let's talk about graphics. There are two different types of graphics to include in a PMAX campaign: Images and Logos. It's best to add multiple variations of each type of asset so that they can appear in a variety of placements with different ideal image sizes. It is important that all images are high-quality.

For image assets, there are three different options to consider: 

  1. Landscape image

Landscape assets should have an aspect ratio of 1.91:1, meaning the width should be 1.91 times the height. The minimum size is 600 x 314 pixels, and the recommended size is 1200 x 628 pixels. The maximum file size for a Landscape image asset is 5120 KB. 

  1. Square image

Square assets must have an aspect ratio of 1:1, meaning the width and height are equal (it’s a square, after all!) The minimum size is 300 x 300 pixels, and the recommended size is 1200 x 1200 pixels. The maximum file size for a Square image asset is 5120 KB. 

  1. Portrait image

Portrait assets must have an aspect ratio of 4:5, meaning the height is equal to ⅘ the width. The minimum size is 480 x 600 pixels, and the recommended size is 960 x 1200 pixels. This asset type doesn’t have a maximum file size limit. 

You can include up to 20 images for each type of image asset, and it’s best to provide as many asset variations as possible. While 20 portrait, 20 square, and 20 landscape images are ideal, it’s not always possible to produce that much relevant creative. It’s critical to have at least one of each type of asset in your campaign, but the more, the merrier! 

Logo assets

You should also add logo assets to make your brand more recognizable in your ads. The options for logo assets are:

  1. Landscape logo

Landscape logos are horizontal and must have a 4:1 aspect ratio, meaning the width must be four times the height. The minimum size is 512x128 pixels, with a recommended size of 1200x300 pixels. The maximum file size is 5120 KB. 

  1. Square logo

Square logos, like their image counterparts, must have a 1:1 aspect ratio. The minimum size is 128x128 pixels, with a recommended size of 1200x1200 pixels. The maximum file size is 5120KB. 

You can include up to 5 logos for each type of asset. Like their image counterparts, including as many logo variations as possible will improve ad performance.

Video assets

Then, there is the option to add video assets. If you don’t add a video asset, Google will create one for you using your headlines and images. Though these videos can see positive results, they may not always reflect your vision of how you would like to present the brand, so it’s best to create your own. 

There’s only one video format for PMAX campaigns, which is specifically designed for YouTube ads, though video ads can also serve on the Display Network. You have the ability to include up to 5 video assets per PMAX campaign, and it’s best to include as many as possible. Videos must be at least 10 seconds long. You can choose between horizontal, vertical, and square aspect ratios. Note that Google may resize your videos automatically to make them fit in different placements.

Grouping assets properly

Keep in mind that when setting up asset groups, you will not be able to control which assets get served together within the group. For example, if you sell both sandals and boots, these different product types should have separate asset groups because you wouldn't want a headline about boots showing up with a picture of sandals. Therefore, you want to make sure all the assets within a given group are cohesive. Separate asset groups will also allow you to set up different targeting for each type of product. Make sure that every asset group has video, image, and text assets. 

Reviewing asset performance

Once your PMAX campaign has run for a while and has gathered data, you will be able to check the Asset Report and see how each different asset is rated. It will state low, good, or best. However, if there are not enough impressions for Google to calculate a performance category, then it will state that there is not enough data. It is best  to switch out low-performing assets with new ones and continually test new assets. But be sure to wait a few weeks before switching out assets so that they gather enough data to receive an accurate quality rating. 

Including ad extensions

While setting up your assets, you should also include ad extensions. Treat the ad extensions as you would in search campaigns and make sure that they are relevant to the campaign and to any asset combinations within the campaign. 

2. Apply specific targeting

Adding targeting when setting up a PMAX campaign will help speed up the learning process. You can use data from existing campaigns with similar products to help decide what targeting to apply. Depending on your goals, you can target more specific audiences that you know will convert, or you can include audiences that have similar interests to expand your reach. 

Audience signals

Adding audience signals to Performance Max campaigns helps guide the algorithm. The algorithm will use these audience signals as suggestions when selecting the right users to serve ads to. Adding all of the possible audience signals is not required, but it will speed up the learning process. To select the right audience signals, use data from active campaigns and audiences and incorporate successful audiences and demographics into your PMAX targeting. 

Interest categories

You can use industry knowledge to select interest categories that are related to the products you sell. Adding interest categories is a good way to capture your target audience as well as audiences that may have similar interests. 

Demographic targets

There are other targeting options, such as demographics, that you can add right away. Or you can let the campaign run, analyze the data, and then set the demographics based on the results. For example, you may notice a specific age range is more likely to convert, and add that age range as a demographic target.  And, of course, you can use data on users who previously interacted with your site, such as website visitors, to create retargeting audiences. 

Search themes

Search themes are words or phrases that you expect your audience to search. These are similar to keywords, but they will be used as a suggestion to the algorithm rather than a requirement. The algorithm can still serve your ad to people who are not searching for those words or phrases. Adding search themes will improve targeting for new campaigns and for campaigns whose targeting settings aren’t specific enough. These are optional but are a great way to provide additional guidance to your campaigns. 

3. Optimize your feed

When creating asset groups, it's important to optimize your product feed. Make sure that the products in each group match the assets. If your assets are split up by content category, then the products in each asset group should be split up the same way. 

Product titles should provide an accurate description of the product, as any confusing language will decrease the click-through rate.

If there are products that are consistently driving low ROI, you should either exclude them from the asset group or put them into their own campaign with a small budget. 

Also, be sure to regularly check that your feeds have been approved. 

4. Don’t just rely on PMAX

It is best to use performance max campaigns alongside search campaigns. Using both will maximize visibility. 

Search campaigns offer more control and the ability to target exact keywords. With PMAX, you can’t control which search queries your ads are served on. Rather, PMAX’s AI-powered technology analyzes your landing page content, product feed, and assets to decide which queries are relevant to your ads. Therefore, it’s best to target specific keywords with search campaigns and allow PMAX to drive incremental conversions with its AI-powered targeting.

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5. Choose the right bid strategy

When selecting a bidding strategy for a new performance max campaign, choose either Maximize Conversions, which will aim to get as many conversions as possible within the provided budget, or Maximize Conversion Value, which will aim to get high-value conversions. The latter may drive fewer conversions, but the conversions it does drive will be more valuable.

Using Target ROAS or Target CPA is still an option, but it is best to wait to use them until the PMAX campaign has matured and gathered sufficient revenue and conversion data for the algorithm to reference.

Final thoughts

We highly recommend testing performance max campaigns to understand what they can do for your advertising program. To ensure the best outcome, set up your PMAX campaigns with quality assets and relevant audiences. The learning period can take up to six weeks, and making changes to the campaign during this period will make it take longer, so try to sit back and let it do its thing.

If you’re looking for a solution that enables you to manage your Google and Microsoft PMAX campaigns in one place, look no further than Marin. In our centralized interface, you can analyze, optimize, and report on all your cross-channel campaigns. Marin can even track your campaigns' performance for you and provide unique, publisher-independent recommendations for improvement. To learn more, click here to chat with a Marin Rep!

Autumn Archibald

Marin Software
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