Google’s performance max is now available to advertisers worldwide and offers a streamlined solution to consolidate your ads across every google channel all in one single campaign. This means more inventory for your buck! This campaign type has come in and replaced Smart Shopping entirely so there are many questions around what it is and how it works. This is a very exciting time as it indicates the market is competitive which inevitably drives innovation.


What Is Performance Max?


Performance Max is a goal-based campaign type that aims to increase conversions across all of Google’s range of advertising channels by optimising ad performance in real-time using smart bidding. This includes Search, Display, Discovery, Shopping, Maps, Gmail and YouTube. This allows advertisers to increase their presence across different ad formats. Performance Max will be replacing smart shopping by the end of September.


How Does It Work?


Advertisers upload various assets (images, videos, copy) appropriate for each channel. Then Google’s machine learning tests which combinations work best for your campaigns.


You choose which audiences you want Performance Max to use as a starting point to serve ads. It is advisable to use first party data to help Google find the right audiences for your brand. Then, once it starts gather data, it will start to find other audience segments of people who exhibit behaviour that suggests they are likely to convert.


The intention is to have single-campaign optimisation across all advertising platforms. Targeting for these campaigns is based on audience signals and is also dependent on your bid strategy.


Why should you test it?


Sometimes we fall into the trap of intuitively thinking a certain channel might work best for our brand however when you test across multiple channels you might find that another channel performs better.  This is one reason why PMax is potentially a more efficient campaign as it tests multiple channels, and the algorithm will work out which channels are delivering your goal and will then optimise towards those channels.


The same can be said for audiences. With Google’s real-time data on shopper intent and preferences, PMax can help you discover new audience segments that you might’ve been unaware of. This can help you get your ads in front of more interested shoppers. Whilst also allowing us to translate these new audience segment learnings across various forms of media targeting.


Google allows you to create asset groups which include a set of assets that can be related to a single theme/audience. Multiple asset groups can be created per campaign. For example, if you split your asset groups by age demographic you could tailor your creatives and copy to include specific discounts that apply to that age group making the ad more relevant to that audience. This is where advertisers/brands can get creative and create personalised journeys for each audience. Google provides insight reports on which assets perform the best together which will help you get ideas for future assets to upload.


Current Barriers


It should be noted that performance per channel within the Performance Max campaign cannot yet be segmented, therefore creating a barrier when reporting back on the successful channels. We also cannot gather information on the top performing audiences and assets, for now you can only see metrics by asset group which is why you need to tightly theme your asset groups.


There is also feedback for current users that this type of campaign does not optimise well for lead generation just yet, as advertisers are reporting that there have been high levels of bot traffic that Google is not recognising and is therefore optimising towards.


Altair’s Top Tips:


  1. Spend time on making sure you have high quality creatives and have different variations for each audience type
  2. Think about how asset groups can be used for the different audience types and use bespoke assets accordingly
  3. Know your audience, their interests and demographics
  4. Make sure you have your CRM audience lists ready – this can help the algorithm by showing Google what your existing customers look like
  5. Videos are proven to be really good at engaging audiences and we know that on average people in the UK watch 71 minutes/day of YouTube


So What?


What does this mean for our clients?


As Performance Max has now replaced smart shopping we should be embracing the change and focusing on how we can start maximising performance especially for e-commerce brands. Retailers have already found huge success with Performance Max so if your client is a retailer, you should be testing this asap.


Google released Performance Max over a year ago which means that a lot of the bugs that you often see in new features will have been fixed. It also means that advertisers and brands have already started to test this campaign type so there is more information online on what is working well.


The tool uses advanced machine learning about where and how their product is made visible. It’s all about making sure Performance Max has the right information on your brand, and then it can find the customers for you.

So, we need to start testing different creative and copy assets on performance max now so that when the market gets more competitive, we know who our customers are and what creatives we need to be successful.

By Emma Yong,
Senior Paid Search Manager

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