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24.01.2022

4 min read

What are Performance Max campaigns?

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

As what can only be described as a pre-christmas treat, Google ads introduced ‘Performance Max’ campaigns to advertisers, a campaign type that ‘allows performance advertisers to access all of their Google Ads inventory from a single campaign’.

Put simply, these campaigns allow Google to take on a more ‘hands on’ approach with management, utilising Google’s automation and machine learning to show ads across the search and display networks.

Now that we’ve had a couple of months to see the early results of these campaigns, we’ve popped together some information below on the who, what and why of this new campaign type to see if it really does take performance to the ‘max’.

So what are they?

Performance Max campaigns make greater use of Google’s machine learning and behind the scenes data to show your ads to customers.

Advertisers provide Google with assets alongside information on performance goals/aims. There’s also the option of providing custom audience signals to give the campaign’s targeting a kickstart. If these aren’t provided, however, the Performance Max campaign will build audiences from the ground up. The campaign can then be set up using the shopping product feed, targeting or excluding certain products similarly to shopping campaigns. From here, the campaign shows content across a range of advertising surfaces, optimising accordingly to show the best performing content to individuals.

This indicates a clear shift away from the traditional keyword model that Google has built its reputation on, though Google themselves do emphasise that Performance Max is designed to ‘complement’ keyword-based Search campaigns and reach new audiences. This shift towards data-driven asset deployment means that advertisers and businesses have to place greater consideration around both data being collected as well as assets being provided, to ensure that the platform has the ‘richest’ content possible.

Performance Max campaigns ensure assets show across a range of Google networks
Performance Max campaigns ensure assets show across a range of Google networks

What does it do?

Once Google ads has taken into account objectives, assets, targeting and aims it runs content across placements such as Search, Display, Youtube Gmail and Discovery, regularly testing content to ensure that performance best aligns with your goals.

As is always the case, it is crucial for advertisers to stay vigilant and aware of performance at a campaign level as there is a greater importance of providing relevant data and assets to ensure the platform has the greatest chance at success.

An interesting aspect of Performance Max campaigns is the concept of ‘audience signals’ – audience/customer data provided by the advertiser to help steer content in the strongest direction. Whilst this is not necessarily a new idea (with custom segments being around in accounts for a long time now), it places a greater emphasis upon the data being collected by advertisers in platforms such as GA. The richer the data, the greater likelihood of success from Performance Max campaigns.

Audience signals. An audience signal is designed to reach the right audiences faster. Users are prompted to create an audience signal for performance max campaigns.

The major downsides of this new campaign type are the inability of breaking out campaigns by brand or generic and the inability to exclude keywords. This once again highlights the greater influence Google will be taking over campaigns.

How have they performed?

With these campaigns being introduced just before the festive period, there hasn’t been a massive amount of time for in-depth analyses to be carried out. This, combined with seasonal trends means that any review would probably best be served as an indicator of performance.

That being said, initial results across some campaigns within Impression have been strong.

One account noted a 41.34% reduction in spend for search campaign performance

but a 34% increase in conversions comparing month to month. Moreover, account wide performance saw impressions rise by 2.35% but costs reduce by 32.3%.

As with all campaigns, it’s crucial to understand context. If your account requires more of a controlled approach, particularly in terms of ad placements, then these campaigns may not be for you. That being said, with testing, exclusions and a proactive approach to monitoring performance, Performance Max could be unearthing audiences that standard keyword campaigns may have missed. For our clients, we’re introducing them to performance max when we have seen positive results across standard campaign types and have access to strong audience data to allow for positive results.

Moreover, the introduction of Performance Max only serves to highlight the importance of testing. What Performance Max offers is an opportunity to test campaigns and asset structures that previously were unavailable, thus testing such campaigns could (that magic word!) lead to improved performance.

For more information on Performance Max campaigns, PPC in general or anything else, get in touch today!