Optmyzr Blog

Performance Max Campaigns Guide for 2023

Frederick Vallaeys

Co-Founder & CEO



Performance Max campaigns are a new campaign type in Google Ads in which advertisers can create one campaign and get their ads wherever users are interacting with Google’s services, whether that’s on Search, Display, YouTube, Maps, Discover, or Gmail.

It promises to simplify advertising in a world where user behavior has become more fragmented. It’s an especially appealing promise for new advertisers who may have not known where to start with Google Ads.

But for existing advertisers, the introduction of yet another campaign type may be confusing. So here I’ll shed some light on how to think about Performance Max.

If you want to learn how to manage and optimize your Performance Max campaigns, read this post.

I also got a chance to speak to Google about it where they shared some best practices and even answered several FAQs from the PPC community. Here’s the full conversation:

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Is Performance Max Replacing Other Campaigns?

At the end of September 2022, Performance Max replaced Smart Shopping and Local campaigns. Other campaign types will continue to exist until further notice according to Google.

Where Do Performance Max Campaigns Run?

Performance Max provides the equivalent of running the following current Google Ads campaign types: Search, Display, Shopping, Video, Gmail, and Discovery. It can then place ads across Google’s vast number of pages and properties as shown below.

Source: Google

What Do the Experts Say About Running Performance Max Instead of Other Campaigns?

As of writing this blog post, Performance Max campaigns have been around for over a year. Many advertisers have tested the campaign type, ran experiments with it, and learned a lot in the process.

I got a chance to speak to Menachem Ani and Andrew Lolk, two experts and practitioners on PPC Town Hall 71 to understand what they’ve learned from running Performance Max campaigns for a full year.

They’ve covered a wide range of topics from structuring asset groups to attribution and negative keywords.

Watch the full conversation below.

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What Inputs Do I Have With Performance Max Campaigns?

When setting up a Performance Max campaign, Google will ask you to provide the following inputs to help their artificial intelligence get started with good ads:

  • Your marketing objectives and goals
  • Budget
  • Creative assets including text, images, and video (optional, since this will auto-generate)
  • Geo-targets
  • Optional Feeds such as Google My Business, Google Merchant Center, Dynamic Ads Feed, and Business Data Feeds
  • Optional Audience Signals such as First-Party Audiences (including Remarketing Lists) and Google Audiences (including Custom Audiences)

With that information, automation is off to the races and will try to show your ad where it expects it may lead to a conversion.

Latest updates to Performance Max (as of February 2023)

Google announced some major updates to Performance Max on February 23, 2023, to provide greater control, flexibility, and insights to advertisers.

Here is the list of updates:

  • Campaign-level brand exclusions
  • Page feeds to refine Search inventory results
  • Video creation tools
  • Additional reporting available at the asset group level, along with budget pacing

Learn how you can profit from these updates here.

What About Performance Max for Ecommerce?

We spoke to Mike Rhodes and Cory Lindholm, who have run several experiments on Performance Max, on the 66th episode of PPC Town Hall.

Mike revealed some fascinating results from his scripts and Cory shared an in-depth checklist to diagnose your Performance Max campaigns.

Read more: Cory Lindholm’s Performance Max for ecommerce diagnosis guide

You can watch the full episode below:

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Performance Max Campaigns: Frequently Asked Questions

Google answered several common questions asked by the PPC community in our PPC Town Hall 53. Here are a few of them:

Can I pick and choose the channels to run my Performance Max campaigns?

No. According to Google, Performance Max campaigns are goal-oriented campaigns. However, Google says that if you express the goals that matter to your business correctly, its bidding system will prioritize the channels that help reach those goals and ignore the channels that don’t.

Will Performance Max cannibalize traffic from my Search, Display, or other campaigns?

Google says when you’re running a Performance Max campaign alongside a shopping campaign for a product, the ads from the Performance Max campaign will be prioritized or shown to users instead of the ads from the Shopping Campaign.

How does Google prioritize conversions in the lower funnel versus the upper funnel?

According to Google, Performance Max is primarily a performance-driven campaign that relies on conversion goals as the target which are usually in the lower funnel.

So for KPIs that are outside performance like driving awareness or consideration, Performance Max is not really a good choice.

How can I prioritize getting new customers?

To optimize towards getting new customers, you’ll have to ensure that you’re either indicating how you value these customers so that your campaigns can bring you more of those or specifying directly that you’re interested in new customers only.

What budget settings can I optimize? In other words, can I set different monthly budgets by different channels?

No, you cannot allocate specific budgets to channels. But Google’s machine learning systems take care of your budgets dynamically in real-time across all channels. They optimize for your goals and prioritize the channels that best help it achieve those goals.

How many conversions do I need for a Performance Max campaign to be effective and provide new insights?

There is no specific number to how many conversions a Performance Max campaign needs to be effective or provide insights.

Does Google plan to show more metrics or richer data in Performance Max campaigns?

Yes, Google said it does plan on showing more data in the future to advertisers running Performance Max campaigns.

How do I make sure results from my Performance Max campaigns lead to real results in my business?

Make sure your Performance Max campaign is targeting the right conversion goals that drive results for your business. If that is a store visit or an online sale or lead generation, then make sure you’re targeting those conversion goals with Performance Max.

Plus it’s good to use values with conversion goals so that you can tell Google’s automation how important each goal is to your business and that automation can prioritize driving those high-value conversion goals over less important goals.

For lead generation advertisers, Google advises using the offline conversion upload feature to tell its automation which sort of leads are resulting in sales and generating revenue for their business. And for retailers, it advises uploading your Google Merchant Center feed to Performance Max campaigns.

When to not use Performance Max campaigns?

Google suggests not using Performance Max if your primary goal is to drive awareness or increase reach. It recommends Performance Max for campaigns that have specific conversion goals to achieve.

What is the downside to not using Performance Max campaigns?

Google’s general recommendation is to start testing this campaign type because it says there’s value to be had here in terms of delivering more conversions for your business. It generally says that you might miss out on some really valuable features that improve business value if you don’t get on board with Performance Max campaigns.

Of course, you should never give up control of your Performance Max campaign and let automation take over, which brings me to the concept of automation layering, which in simpler terms means adding a layer of your own automation over that of Google’s to safeguard your campaigns.

How Can I Safeguard Performance Max Campaigns?

At Optmyzr, we’ve built several tools (and more are coming soon) to help you take back control of your Performance Max campaigns.

We’ve covered it in-depth in this blog post.

You can also follow our roadmap, suggest new features, or upvote capabilities that are on the roadmap.

And if you want to start optimizing your Performance Max campaigns right away, take a 14-day free trial now.

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