Performance Max: Dos and Don'ts

By
Linsey Knerl
October 10, 2022
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By now, everyone (including you) should be using the new Google Performance Max campaigns feature instead of the older Smart Shopping and Local ad campaign formats. While it seems rather simple on the surface, early testers are noting a few small details that can help you get the most out of this upgrade. 

Whether you're running your first Performance Max campaign or you've been playing around with it for a while, consider these best practices for getting the best value for your ad dollar.

Performance Max Dos

There’s a lot of flexibility with the Performance Max inputs, but some strategies will simply work better than others.

1.  Do use for the right conversion goals

Customer acquisition may be the preferred use for Performance Max, and it's certainly possible to flip the switch and see brand-new leads come into your funnel. In fact, you will probably see better numbers than if you set your goals to capture bottom-of-funnel sales conversions. Whatever you do, be realistic about the goals you set; new leads acquisition and final conversions will naturally not show the same level of success. 

You'll also need to have more than enough assets to fill both of these pipelines uniquely and have branding messages for each that speak to the unique audiences targeted by each goal. Those who have never heard of your brand should get their own assets.

2.  Do include at least one video asset

We really shouldn’t have to tout the benefits of video, especially video that is well-optimized. The stats overwhelmingly support having fully-optimized video as an integral part of any ad campaign, with “50% more conversions per dollar and at least 40% higher conversion rates” compared to those that don’t optimize video.

Unfortunately, the resources needed to create a robust video asset may scare off new advertisers or tempt them to skip video for now. Instead of potentially missing out on one of the more effective asset types, take your time to include video (even if you have to outsource the job.) Otherwise, Google will make one from you using their templates, which takes away your creative control completely.

3.  Do create audience signals

An audience signal may be new to you, but it’s a must for running a Performance Max campaign. You will essentially tell Google the kind of user you want your ads to be shown to, but this is merely the foundation for where Google will go from there. Using its own massive data pool, algorithms, and increasingly proficient AI, it will tweak your audience to include those most likely to respond to your ads, even if they aren’t firmly in that pool you originally outlined. It's a little out of your control but in the best way possible.

4.  Do implement well-established tracking tools and parameters

Google offers so many automated and AI-based features with Performance Max that it's impossible to really see all that's going on behind the curtain. For this reason, you can't necessarily pinpoint each detail that's making your campaign a success or failure. What you can do is work with the information you have, such as how those who are shown your ad interact with it.

If you haven’t set up your Google Analytics to include a segment for Performance Max ads, do this now. The insights you do get can tell you a lot about the quality of your assets, how consumer trends change over time, and what users respond to best.

5. Do differentiate your product groups into their own campaigns 

For eCommerce brands especially, this is a helpful strategy if price points and margins vary between products. Creating unique campaigns can help you maintain internal efficiency targets and leverage smart bidding. 

"Performance Max campaigns help you increase conversions across Google’s full range of advertising channels and inventory." Source: Google
Performance Max Don’ts

If something isn’t working for you again and again with Performance Max, by all means, stop doing it. Beyond that, there are a few technical snafus that can degrade the quality of your campaign.

1.  Don’t ignore URL expansion

This small detail in setting up ads can send users to the wrong place on your website. Here's how: Currently, Performance Max can take your "final URL" and look for other landing pages based on that URL that may be more relevant for searchers. So, an ad set up with your homepage of www.abc.com could send users to pages on your site, such as www.abc.com/mug, if they recently looked for mugs for a holiday gift. In theory, this can be a great way to drive more relevant traffic, but if you don't actually want users to go anywhere other than the pages you specify in the campaign, you’ll need to turn this feature off. Google details how to opt-out of this technology on its help page.

2. Duplicate merchant feed imagery

Connecting your merchant feed to your Performance Max campaign ensures Google has access to all those product images by default. You don't need to add them again. Instead, focus on lifestyle shots or those that evoke the feeling of your brand. As time goes on, you will get data on what's working best, so you can concentrate on creating new imagery with a likelihood of success. 

Bottom line: Performance Max has a bit of a learning curve, but taking the time to jump on board now gives you the best chance of overcoming early challenges well before the peak holiday shopping season. 

Linsey Knerl

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