Google Ads

24 May 2022

David Mooney

Top Tips for Performance Max

A look at Performance Max, Google’s newest campaign type.

Last year, Google announced a *shiny* new campaign type called Performance Max. Now, new’ products from Google are often met with a sizeable groan (from me), as in my experience, it typically takes a few months (or years in some cases) before they’ve ironed out the kinks, and the product actually performs well.

However, with this announcement came the news that Performance Max campaigns were to replace Smart Shopping campaigns entirely by the end of July. With that in mind, it was important that we got up to speed with Performance Max before we were forced to!


So what is it?

Despite what it sounds like, Performance Max is not Google’s new brand of condoms. Instead, they are fully automated, all-in-one campaigns that cover Google’s entire inventory. That’s right, its a Search/Shopping, YouTube, Display, Discover, Gmail and Maps campaign in oneThere’s no keyword and audience targeting, as instead, Google is tracking and targeting users as they move around the Google landscape.



Is it any good?

This isn’t Google’s first foray into all-in-one campaignsfollowing the disastrous (believe me, they were) ‘smart’ campaigns they tried to launch three or four years ago. These were thankfully replaced with Smart Display and Smart Shopping campaigns, which have fared slightly better.

I will be honest though – I was sceptical about Performance Max when it was first announced. The level of automation and lack of optimisation available felt crude. The fact that you can’t add negative keywords, block dodgy websites, or even see which platform a user was on when they clicked an ad was surely giving Google too much control. That said, we’ve been using Performance Max for a while now, and there are some benefits. Most notably – we are now spending less time doing boring manual work, and more time doing fun strategic work.

However, even with the misgivings of the new campaign type (and there are plenty); given that Google will be migrating Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max this summer, it makes sense to get to grips with them sooner rather than later. Here are our top tips:


1. Revert to (some) standard Shopping

We have found that setting up Performance Max campaigns without opting into shopping (yes that’s possible), is a good way of testing the water. You’ll get a sense of the performance, without clashing with your existing shopping setup. On top of that, we’ve set up some standard shopping campaigns that perform at least as well as smart ones for priority products. By doing so, we can still maintain bids and search terms in key areas.

2. Optimise your shopping feed

Even before Performance Max, you should have been optimising your shopping feed with the use of a third-party tool, or rules within the Merchant Center. Such tools allow you to optimise headlines and descriptions so they are more keyword friendly, add custom labels to help push priority products, and structure the feed in a cohesive way. Given that a big part of Performance Max campaigns will be using shopping, you should be optimising your feed to get the most out of them.

3. Watch Final URL expansion

This is a slightly technical one, but when you are setting up your campaign, you’ll have the option to opt into Final URL Expansion. This will match the most relevant page on your site to the user’s query and also change headlines to match intent. I would suggest opting out of expansion for the time being.

4. Add negatives

You can add negative keywords to Performance Max campaigns, but only at the account level, and requested under ‘brand safety’ concerns. We suggest you request to add negative terms because of historic performance issues under the guise of ‘brand safety’ to improve efficiency.

5. View your search terms

It is possible to see search terms within the campaign under the ‘Insights’ section, although you can only see week-on-week or month-on-month data. Still, it’s well worth understanding the terms that are driving better performance.


What should you do now?

The sooner you get on board with Performance Max the better, as Google will be it pushing hard over the next 6-12 months. I’d suggest running limited amounts to begin with and ramping up off the back of good performance. If you’d like a chat about Performance Max or anything digital marketing, get in touch.

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