Performance Max: Definition, purpose and benefits

Read a breakdown of what Performance Max is and the benefits it can have to your marketing campaign.

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PPC Team


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What are Performance Max campaigns?

Performance Max is a campaign type used by Google Ads. Performance Max campaigns rely heavily on Google’s machine learning and behind-the-scenes data to exhibit ads to customers. Advertisers provide Google with assets and information on performance goals, and have the option of providing custom audience signals to kickstart the campaign’s targeting. If these are not provided, the campaign will develop audiences from the ground up.

Using the shopping product feed, the campaign can be set up to target or exclude specific products similar to shopping campaigns. From there, the campaign shows content across various advertising surfaces, optimising to present the best-performing content to individuals.

Graph depicting growth in performance and data

How are Performance Max campaigns different?

This shift away from the traditional keyword model that Google is known for highlights a clear change, though Google emphasises that Performance Max is intended to complement keyword-based search campaigns and reach new audiences.

This shift towards data-driven asset deployment requires advertisers to be more mindful of the data being collected, as well as the assets being provided, to ensure the platform has the richest content possible.

Once Google Ads takes into account the 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 aligns with the advertiser’s goals. As always, it is essential for advertisers to remain vigilant and aware of performance at a campaign level.

Google Search

An interesting aspect of Performance Max campaigns is the concept of “audience signals” – audience or customer data provided by the advertiser to steer content in the strongest direction. This places a greater emphasis on the data being collected by advertisers in platforms such as GA, with richer data increasing the likelihood of success from Performance Max campaigns.

Our experience of Performance Max campaigns so far

Running tests across multiple clients, we have had mixed results. Some clients have seen a huge uplift in impressions, site traffic and quality conversions, while a small number of clients have had issues with lead quality and spam.

With its launch, optimisations and reporting were limited however Google are continually making adjustments to Performance Max campaigns. They’re now starting to give control (just slightly!) back to the advertiser with the introduction of brand-level exclusions, account-level negative keywords, experiments and asset group reporting.

2 people examining performance max performance

It is crucial to understand context when evaluating campaign performance. If an account requires a more controlled approach, particularly in terms of ad placements, these campaigns may not be suitable.

However, with testing, exclusions, and a proactive approach to monitoring performance, Performance Max campaigns could reveal audiences that standard keyword campaigns may have missed. For our clients, we introduce Performance Max when we have seen positive results across standard campaign types and have access to strong audience data to ensure positive results.

Furthermore, the introduction of Performance Max campaigns emphasises the importance of testing. Performance Max provides an opportunity to test campaigns and asset structures that were previously unavailable, which could lead to improved performance.

For more information on Performance Max campaigns or to find out more about our PPC services in general, please contact us today.

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