What is Performance Max?
Performance Max is a relatively new ad format that allows users to create ads that use machine learning to automatically optimize for performance across Google’s advertising channels including search, display, YouTube, and more.
Some of the benefits of Performance Max are the ease of setup, the flexibility of the different channels to reach audiences, and the power to optimize for conversions across those touchpoints.
The idea from Google was that Performance Max campaigns would act in harmony with your current search campaigns to fill in gaps your keywords didn’t fill to increase conversions and revenue. Sounds great, right?
Not for many marketers.
When Performance Max campaigns first launched in November 2021, many marketers were skeptical of these campaigns, fearing that it was another way that Google was taking away control and transparency, shielding them from results, data, and optimizations. While some of these gripes are merited, to their credit, Google has listened and made some improvements to Performance Max.
How is Performance Max Changing?
First, marketers wanted to be able to have some level of control with account-level negative keywords and campaign-level brand exclusions, over their brand to exclude that from campaigns.
This is a big improvement as it doesn’t always make sense for companies to advertise on brand searches but these would likely be the first place where people would see ads. Additionally, companies that devote budget to brand campaigns, they don’t want any cannibalization from PMax campaigns.
Additionally, Google is allowing for Page feeds that allow for flexibility to send traffic to specific pages on their site rather than just a single page or any page at Google’s discretion as campaigns are currently set.
Next, they’ve unveiled a video creation studio that makes YouTube advertising easier, even if you don’t have video assets.
Finally, they are giving more detailed data into how different assets are performing by adding asset group-level reporting and budget pacing insights.
All of these optimizations are in the process of being rolled out at this time in March/April 2023.
How to Know if Performance Max is Right for Your Business?
So, how do you know if PMax is right for you? In reality, Performance Max campaigns are an ad type that any business advertising online can potentially take advantage of. However, there are a couple of things that make it more likely to be the right channel for you.
First, having a solid conversion set-up that is essential to your business’s success is essential. Obviously, if you have an ecommerce shop or sell tickets, that is the best, but we’ve had clients see success in lead-generation campaigns as well.
If you aren’t ready to fully take the step or make a larger investment in Performance Max, you can set up an experiment to see how a campaign might incrementally help your account to drive additional conversions and revenue.
What Are the Keys to Success for Performance Max campaigns?
We’ve run performance Max campaigns for a variety of clients in a number of different verticals, and while we haven’t seen success 100% of the time, we’ve seen the most success when there were four things solidly in place.
1. Quality Assets
People aren’t going to click on your ad if your assets are unprofessional. If you don’t have a clear selling proposition, great creative and imagery, you might not be ready for a PMax campaign.
2. Quality Landing Page
It’s not enough to get people to your site, you have to set the page up in a way that will turn visitors into customers. A landing page that has seen proven success at turning visitors into customers is essential.
3. Quality Signals/Conversions
One of the keys to success, when you are using machine learning and AI to power your marketing, is to feed in the correct data. This is where signals or conversions come into play.Since there is no specific targeting for PMax outside of maximizing your conversions, when you set up a campaign, Google asks for a signal or signals that you can enter into the campaign as a hint as to who your audience is.
If possible, we use past converters as that is the best signal for future conversion.
The other important detail here is the conversion itself. The key is to get as close to revenue as possible for your conversions. Ideally, a lead in a lead-generation campaign (or a completed sale) or a sale for ecommerce.
We have run into issues with spam leads or calls from lead generation campaigns in the past, but you can’t fake a sale so setting sales as the conversion is ideal. That said, we have seen success in other lead generation campaigns and even in accounts that initially saw spam and were remade with new signals and have been successful.
4. Compelling Product or Service
Performance Max (or any paid ad for that matter) isn’t going to magically work if your product or service is half-baked. If your product or service is priced too high, not as feature-laden, or has other disadvantages to your competitor, you can’t expect PMax to work wonders.
Performance Max can be a powerful tool for businesses looking to improve their online advertising performance. With its use of machine learning, it can optimize campaigns across multiple channels to reach the right audience at the right time. However, it is important to have a solid foundation of fundamentals in place.
Having assets, landing pages, conversions, and your product in place are essential to seeing success.
If you are considering it for your business, it’s best to start with a small test campaign to see how it performs and then scale up your budget if it’s successful.
Additionally, it’s important to acknowledge that Performance Max isn’t a silver bullet that solves all ills. It is one tactic that should be part of a larger digital strategy.