Ultimate Guide to Google Performance Max in 2022

Ultimate Guide to Google Performance Max

Does anyone else feel like the world is moving faster and faster? Technology is improving at such a rapid pace that it’s almost impossible to keep up! The latest update from Google Ads is a gamechanger and has huge implications for business owners, marketers and anyone trying to reach their target market.  Let’s dive in and discuss what these changes are, who they effect and why they’re so major.

Much has changed over the years, especially with evolving technologies like artificial intelligence. This technocratic trend has driven forward everything in the marketing industry and the digital marketing realm is certainly no different. Tech giants like Google and Meta (Facebook) have tirelessly pursued ways to make their ad platforms as low-touch and automated as sub-humanly possible.

Google’s latest breakthrough in automation, Performance Max Campaigns, was released last November and is geared up to be the next evolutionary step in the digital advertising platform — but is it everything that it was hyped up to be? Is more automation the best decision for you or your business?

What Is Google’s Performance Max?

Performance Max is an ad campaign type that allows you to create a single campaign to promote your products across all of Google’s advertising channels. That means your ads are displayed across Google pages like search results, Maps, and Shopping. But that’s not all! Your ads are also shown on Google sites like YouTube, Blogger, Gmail, plus thousands of partnering websites.

The primary difference between Performance Max and other ad campaigns is that Google automates the campaign targeting and delivery based on the information you provide.

How do Performance Max campaigns work?

Performance Max essentially takes responsive ads and smart campaigns to the next level, combining these features all in one convenient place. In order to run them, you need to provide Google with your:

  • Marketing objectives and goals
  • Budget
  • Creative assets (text, images, video)
  • Geo-targets
  • Feeds (optional)
  • Google My Business
  • Google Merchant Center
  • Dynamic Ads feed
  • Business data feeds
  • Audience signals (optional)
  • First-party Audiences (lists)
  • Google Audiences (manually targeted)

The pros & cons of Performance Max

The main goal here is to make advertising on Google’s networks easier, more accessible and essentially, more enticing to the neophyte user who isn’t quite familiar with how to run Google Ads and is overwhelmed by the number of options available. Let’s run through some pros and cons of Performance Max campaigns.

Pros of Performance Max

  • Beginner-friendly: The concept of one campaign where you can achieve all of your marketing goals without having to set up several other campaigns appeals to those who want to sidestep the usually very technical learning curve.
  • More focus on strategic performance drivers:  Creative optimization, campaign planning, and PPC reporting are much easier to obtain using Performance Max. With a multi-campaign strategy, you may have responsive search ads, responsive display ads, etc. with varying creative and messaging that you’d have to compile from different places or analyze individually. With Performance Max you can test and assess all of these things from one place, allowing you to make strategic marketing decisions faster.
  • Could provide impressive results (when used correctly): If you have the correct inputs (like audience targeting)  in place with clearly defined goals then Performance Max should work for you (in theory)

Pro tip:  I would recommend using first-party data like a list of existing customers as a source instead of relying on the AI to learn who your target audience is. It may save you quite a bit of money to do this.

Cons of Performance Max

The irony of Performance Max is that it inherently should appeal to beginners, yet many of the cons or drawbacks come into play when a user makes “novice” mistakes.

  • Clear goals are key: If you are unclear in your marketing goals or at least the conversion action goals that you are telling Google to optimize for, then your Performance Max campaigns will not perform the way you want them to. This also applies to the quality of ads or feeds. The AI is not going to make your ads magically better, so you have to do everything in your power to place the best and most efficient creative inputs into the system.
  • Less control: The basis of many of the criticisms surrounding smart campaigns, automated bidding, or anything remotely AI is that it takes control away from the advertiser in some form. Those who like to have control over every detail of how their ads are being served may be resistant to the continued automation of their jobs.
  • Limited visibility: Though Google is gradually adding new reporting features, the general consensus is that it’s hard to get individual insights on each campaign or asset combination (as of writing).
  • Machine learning doesn’t mean full automation: Relying too much on machine learning or believing that it will do the job with minimal effort on your end is a mistake you don’t want to make in Google Ads. 

Why is Google Performance Max revolutionary?

It may seem like just another campaign type, but if you have been paying attention, Performance Max is a lot more. For the last five years Google’s strategy has been aiming towards creating a fully automated Google Ads platform. This is part of Google’s bigger vision — full automation. 

With Google Performance Max’s AI capabilities, all of an advertiser’s manual work with targeting, bidding, and ad copy, is now fully automated.   

The goals-based campaign unlocks maximum performance across all Google properties. The targeting is based on the conversion goals that you select in the campaign setup, so your marketing objectives are always prioritized above all else.

The algorithm has full visibility into auction data across Google’s properties and the creatives are completely automated and based on your assets.

Performance Max is such a superior option for retailers and local businesses that Google is scrapping Smart Shopping and Local campaigns next year.

Google says advertisers that use Performance Max campaigns in their account see an average increase of 13% total incremental conversions at a similar cost per action.

4 Ways Performance Max helps you achieve your goals: 

  1. Increasing conversions and value: Capitalize on conversion opportunities in real-time with automated bid adjustments.
  2. Finding new customers: Google’s real-time understanding of user intent, behavior, and context can help you target new audience segments with more relevant ads.
  3. Gaining richer insights: The Insights page now includes data on Performance Max campaigns.
  4. Working together with automation: Drive better results with automation by providing high-quality creative assets and information about which audiences are likely to convert.

If you’re interested in discussing how you can utilize Google Performance Max campaigns in your strategy or simply what more you can do to improve your digital marketing, schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation with one of our Social Geeks.

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