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The ability to create Performance Max campaigns is, despite appearances, still relatively new. After all, it was introduced in November 2021, and since then it has managed to gain a wide range of both fans and opponents. Regardless of which of these groups you belong to, if you specialize in running Google Ads campaigns, you need to know how this type of campaign works, what benefits it can bring to your business, what is required to set it up, and how to optimize it to bring the best results. It is this last point that I would like to discuss today, so if you want to master optimizing Performance Max campaigns, you are in the right place!
What are Performance Max campaigns?
For readers of our blog, this is certainly not a question they would leave unanswered. We’ve covered the topic of Performance Max campaigns many times before, and we’ve also provided a brief guide to this type of campaign – “Performance Max campaigns in a nutshell“. However, in order for us to discuss the topic of PMax optimization in more detail, it is worth taking a moment now to remind you of the key points that distinguish this type of campaign.
Performance Max campaigns are a type of Google Ads campaign whose main goal is to improve performance according to a defined conversion goal. They target customers who are engaged across all Google channels, including YouTube, Display Network, Search, Discover, Gmail and Google Maps. All aspects of the campaigns, including bidding, budget optimization, audiences and creatives, are combined with Google’s automation tools. Our ads can therefore be displayed across multiple channels simultaneously, without having to set up separate campaigns for each channel.
Optimizing Performance Max Campaigns – Best Practices
Although Performance Max campaigns rely on automation, there are many methods to tweak them further manually for even better results. Want to learn what we can optimize in Performance Max campaigns? And how to do it? Let’s get down to discussing best practices!
- Add as many creative resources to the campaign as possible
Although you can’t upload an infinite number of images and headlines, their limits for these campaigns are really high. For each group of resources (of which you can create a maximum of 100 in a campaign!) you can add as many as 20 images, 5 company logos, 5 videos, 5 regular and five long headlines, 5 descriptions, and the name of your business. Our recommendation – fill all the free spaces! Remember at the same time, however, that creative resources should be of the highest possible quality, so if, for example, you are hesitating between creating two great videos for your Performance Max campaign, or five that leave much to be desired – go for quality, not quantity.
2. Set the campaign duration to at least 4 weeks
Invest some time in the campaign. Performance Max, like other smart ad campaigns, uses machine learning to determine what motivates ad audiences and then adapts to their behavior in a way designed to deliver the best possible results. Because Performance Max has many areas to explore before exiting the learning phase, Google recommends running the campaign for 30 to 60 days. After that time, we don’t have to abandon the campaign, but it’s a good idea to provide it with new graphic resources, for example.
3. Make sure conversion tracking is properly configured in your account
In English, this topic is called elephant in the room -an obvious problem we don’t like to talk about. But if you’ve been sweeping the challenges of conversion tracking under the rug until now, now is the time to face them. Sure, in a Google Ads account, conversion tracking is always important, but in the case of Performance Max, it’s simply crucial and we can’t overlook this topic if we want this type of campaign to be successful.
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4. Use destination exclusions
We can use this option to narrow the audience and exclude the possibility of our ads appearing on selected YouTube channels, under specific videos, on selected sites, as well as under categories in app stores and on specific app pages. Such an option did not appear until December 2022, and what we need to know about it is that exclusions appear at the level of the entire account, so it is worth remembering that when using this option we should not accidentally restrict valuable users from accessing our ads.
5. Choose the right rate setting strategy
At the campaign setup level, you have a choice of one of two rate-setting strategies – maximize the number of conversions and maximize the value of conversions
As part of the conversion maximization strategy, Google will target our ads to users in such a way as to get the highest number of conversions while staying within the budget we set. It’s worth choosing this strategy if the conversions we care about have a single, fixed value, and the priority for us is simply to maximize their number.
There is also a second option to choose from, maximizing the value of conversions. Among others, representatives of the e-commerce industry will certainly benefit from choosing this strategy. Once it is selected, our ads will, thanks to it, be targeted to users with a tendency to make purchases for a higher amount, i.e. those by whom the conversions made will have a high value.
6. Control the campaign budget (and change it if necessary)
Because Performance Max combines several networks (Shopping, Search, YouTube, Display, etc.), we can expect it to manipulate the budget so as to distribute it among them in the best possible way whenever there is an opportunity to broadcast our ad. Sometimes, therefore, it’s worth increasing the budget of a PMax campaign even if it doesn’t seem to be fully spent. That’s because the daily budget we set is an indication to Google of how much additional money it might spend if it discovers new attractive keyword phrases, market sectors or opportunities in Display or Shopping networks. So follow the daily budget recommendations or manipulate it to be slightly higher than the average daily spend from that campaign.
There is another tactic, however, based on decreasing rather than increasing the daily budget. If you are focused on maximizing the value of conversions and are particularly concerned about increasing the ROAS of your campaign – try lowering its budget. By doing so, you can get a higher % ROAS per ad than by increasing the ROAS goal at the campaign setup level.
7. End URL expansion – enable or disable?
End URL expansion is an option enabled by default in Performance Max campaigns, and it’s quite easy to overlook. Purely theoretically, the use of end URL expansion is supposed to provide us with the most relevant landing page based on the search intent of the user who came across our ad. Thus, the campaign uses permissions to send users to landing pages other than the URL specified at the component group resource level. If we disable this option then the campaign will only use the URLs we specified at that particular level as landing pages. So… better to enable or disable this option?
- Enable if: You want the Google Ads system to use the homepage, subpages and other URLs associated with the landing page you entered into the component group as landing pages for your ads, based on user intent.
- Disable if: You want your ads to redirect users only to the landing page you provide.
8. Monitor your competitors’ activities with the auction analysis tool
Performance Max is one of the three types of campaigns in Google Ads for which we can use Auction Analysis Tool With this tool, you can compare the performance of your campaigns to those of your competitors displaying under the same key phrases in the search network and locate the areas that need improvement to outperform those competitors. To find the listing analysis tool, enter the Performance Max campaign you are interested in, select “Keywords” from the sidebar menu, and “Listing Analysis” from the drop-down list.
9. The Recommendations tab does not bite!
See the Recommendations tab at the campaign level to see Google’s recommendations that can help you optimize your campaign on an ongoing basis. To make the result of optimizing your campaign as high as possible, you can either manually implement the given recommendations into action, or you can use AARs, or Auto applied recommendations, at the account level and choose which recommendations that can be associated with Performance Max campaigns should be applied automatically, without your verification. Unfortunately, at this time, automatic application of recommendations is not possible to implement at the campaign level.
Performance Max is a really innovative type of campaign and is worth using when promoting your business. Properly optimized campaigns can build and increase brand awareness across different channels simultaneously, as well as contribute to increased revenue from product and service sales.
Let’s now summarize the 8 tips I shared in this post, so here’s how to optimize Performance Max campaigns the right way:
- Add as many creative resources as possible to the campaign.
- Add as many creative resources as possible to the campaign.
- Set the campaign duration to at least 4 weeks
- Make sure conversion tracking is properly configured in your account
- Use destination exclusions
- Choose the right rate-setting strategy
- Control your campaign budget (and change it if necessary)
- Extend the final URL – enable or disable it?
- Monitor your competitors’ activities with the auction analysis tool
- Recommendations tab doesn’t bite!
Remember to keep up to date with our blog on performance marketing to learn more about running and optimizing effective Google Ads campaigns and more!