How to Navigate Google's Performance Max Campaigns

Katie Sullivan Porter
|
October 16, 2022

Recently Google announced that Performance Max campaigns would be a more significant part of the Google Ads platform and therefore a greater part of paid media strategies for marketers at large. Since then, many questions have been raised as to what exactly this campaign type is and how it differs from other campaigns. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a few of the most common concerns coming up for advertisers and best practices to deal with the changes below.

First of all, what are Performance Max campaigns?

Performance Max (PMax) means you can now buy Google Ads across the entire inventory of products from a single campaign, with expanded coverage across a myriad of different placement types, including:

  • YouTube
  • Display
  • Search
  • Discover
  • Gmail
  • Maps

PMax uses a mix of automation and machine learning to help advertisers reach their conversion goals with all of these placement types all within one campaign. Performance Max campaigns should complement keyword-based search campaigns, as well as boost performance across Google's less competitive advertising channels like Gmail and Display.

If paid media marketers invest wisely, this could bring in a whole new set of customers who are not as familiar with online shopping. Previously in Beta and compatible with Smart Shopping and Local campaigns, Performance Max will be a replacement for Performance Max Offline and Performance Max for Retail by the beginning of October 2022, meaning paid specialists need to make the pivot now.

How do Performance Max campaigns work?

Performance Max helps you drive performance based on your specified conversion goals, delivering more conversions and value by optimizing performance in real-time and across channels using Smart Bidding. Performance Max combines Google's automation technologies across bidding, budget optimization, audiences, creatives, attribution, and more. They're all empowered by your specific advertising objective (for example, if you have a CPA or ROAS target) and the creative assets, audience signals, and optional data feeds you provide.

“Performance Max puts your business goals front and center, and prioritizes these above other signals by inputting your specific conversion goals,” 

-Rodney Ip, Global Product Lead, Google Ads

Performance Max are goal-based campaigns, designed to deliver the value that matters most to you. So, to get started, you choose the goals that are necessary for you to reach your marketing objective. Then Google asks you to provide a series of inputs that help the AI tool get campaigns started. These inputs include:

  • Budget
  • Creative assets (like text, imagery, and video)
  • Geo-targets
  • Optional feeds such as: 
  • Google Merchant Center
  • Google My Business
  • Dynamic Ads Feed
  • Other Business Data Feeds
  • Audience Signals
  • First party / remarketing lists
  • Google Audiences / custom audiences

PMax campaigns are then able to take those inputs and invest your budget as effectively as possible, maintaining a core focus on the initial objective you set. Google’s automation goes to work finding the best potential customers and serving those customers the most relevant ad. Bidding and attribution technology then determine the most optimal bids to meet your goals. And of course, it’s all done in real time in the auction. 

Targeting technology, machine learning, and automated bidding all culminate to a campaign with the best possible ROI outcome. In fact, Google’s data thus far indicates Performance Max campaigns average a 13% lower cost per conversion than any other campaign to date. 

How to maximize the effectiveness of PMax campaigns

Because they leverage machine learning and automation to drive performance, Performance Max can leave advertisers feeling like they have given up some control over their campaigns. But there are still some levers you can pull to maximize your PMax campaigns. 

Audience Signals

Adding audience signals to your Performance Max campaigns enhances Google’s machine learning to help you reach the best customers. Google takes your audience data and looks at the audiences for signals to identify similar buyers likely to exhibit the same behaviors and interests. You can add audiences from:

  • Your first party data (customer lists, website visitors, remarketing lists, etc)
  • Custom segments based on search activity, websites visited and apps used
  • In-market customers with interests in products like yours
  • Demographics like age, income level, and family status

Google can then use the information you have provided to inform its targeting algorithms to find customers who are most likely to convert. This is a good way to help jumpstart your Performance Max campaigns and can also continue to inform throughout the lifecycle of the campaign, especially as your first party data changes over that time. 

Offline Conversions

Consider importing your offline conversions to help improve your PMax performance. By giving Google access to offline sales data in addition to your online digital attribution channels, you will give the algorithms a more comprehensive view of what’s working. 

The system can then interpret which leads have resulted in sales and also the assets being used in the ad groups that are ultimately driving conversions. Incorporating these valuable insights will help deliver the best content to the customers most likely to convert. 

MarinOne Engine + Performance Max Campaigns

The team at Marin has been hard at work updating the MarinOne Engine infrastructure which will deliver a powerful experience for advertisers. MarinOne Engine already powers MarinOne's newest and most advanced grids and enables new campaign types, more data, more flexible reporting, and enhanced processing for scalability.

MarinOne Engine will allow us to support additional campaign types from Google including Performance Max as well as local campaigns and additional data for video campaigns. 

As you start formulating your strategy for adding Performance Max to your digital campaigns, the marketing experts at Marin are here to help. Reach out today to schedule a demo and see how MarinOne’s advanced analytics, automation, and optimization tools can work for your Google Ads programs. 

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