Table of contents

    Performance Max campaigns are a fairly new type of campaign in Google Ads. They had their premiere in beta version, that is, the version available only for certain ad accounts, on 22.07.2021. The tests were successful and, as a result, from 2.11.2021 all advertisers can create Performance Max campaigns. Let’s start with what this type of campaign is in general.

    Performance Max campaign - is it for me?

    What are performance max campaigns?

    These are campaigns very much based on the performance of self-learning algorithms. As we all probably know, this is not a complete novelty from Google. We’ve already had flexible search network ads, Smart Display campaigns, app promotion campaigns or smart product campaigns for a long time. OK, then, what do we really have here that is new? Performance Max provides us with something more, namely the optimization of ads across multiple channels, namely the search network, the ad network, on YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps or Discovery Cards A whole range of Google services within the reach of a single campaign. Now that we know what these types of campaigns are, how can we create them?

    T create performance max campaigns

    Everyone is able to find how to create a Performance Max campaign step-by-step, so I’ll just provide here a few interesting tips to help when creating a campaign and point out what to pay attention to.

    • Pay special attention when setting the campaign goal, by choosing the wrong one, the campaign will optimize just for it, thus losing valuable time and money by gaining conversions that are not the most important for us
    • in the beginning it is recommended not to set a target cost of action or return on advertising expenditures, this can slow down the learning process of the campaign
    • set the preferred duration of the campaign specify a period of at least 4 weeks
    • we can choose whether we want to target a specific URL of our choice or the campaign can itself “select” the most appropriate URL from our site (here we can exclude URLs to which we do not want to target users) and optimize ads for it. If we have selected advertising resources strictly tailored to a specific URL, it will be obvious to choose the first option.
    • When adding resources in the “resource group”, we can add our own video, or not add it and entrust its creation to Google Ads, but noticeably worse results have resource groups with an automatically generated video, which in my opinion is not unusual, as it looks like a poor Power Point presentation. We can preview it by viewing “resource details”.
    • In the case of accounts connected to Google Merchant Center, a product feed will also be among the resources. In this case, we do not need to add any other elements to the resources.
    • we may or may not need to complete the “Audience Signal” field. However, I recommend doing so, it will speed up the learning of algorithms, and thus the benefits of this campaign
    • we do not have the ability, at this point, to add exclusionary keywords from the panel, we need to contact our account manager or simply support, we will be sent a request authorizing Google to make changes to our account for these specific campaigns, without prior notice. It must be filled out with a maximum of 1,000 words to be excluded, we specify them, of course, with the type of matching we care about. The ability to add exclusions from the Google Ads panel is expected to appear soon.

    Campaign set and what’s next?

    After setting up the campaign and enabling it and the resource groups, we have to wait a few days until we get any statistics about our ads or the campaign in general.
    Very soon, we get information about the effectiveness of our ads in the “Overview” tab.

    By going to a specific group of resources and displaying “resource details” we can view which resource has received the lowest effectiveness and change/improve it so that our ad effectiveness increases.

    After a longer period of time, about a week, we get the data in the “statistics” tab, much needed for us to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign. It is important to note that in the analyzed data we can not set a specific date range. We only have the option to compare statistics on a weekly or monthly basis.

    On the screen, we see the classic for Google, modifiable graph with data analysis. Lower down we have access to the “customer study”. Here we have shown keywords on which our ads are displayed. It is worth paying attention to this when submitting the form to Google support with exclusionary keywords for Performance Max campaigns Some clients, do not express a desire to display on their brand, from my own experience I know that excluding brand words, the campaign performs no worse than before this.

    You may get the impression that Google is very frugal in providing us with data with this type of campaign. Correct, but would more data change much? We get data for those aspects of the campaign that we are able to change. Other things we don’t really have control over, and we have to “trust the algorithms”.

    There is another interesting possibility, not so obvious. We can check the destinations where our ads are displayed
    Here’s a quick guide:

    • In the Google Ads dashboard, enter this type of campaign (campaigns tab)-> click on reports (between the graph and the campaign results) -> Other -> Performance Max destinations -> Attributes (on the right side) -> Performance Max campaign destination type (hover over it and click the plus “row”) -> in the destination column, “Displays” should appear. 

    Although, as I said, there’s not much we can do with this, because neither will add destination exclusion lists or individual exclusions, but maybe we can use this information for other campaigns. There’s never enough data 😉.

    This is such the most necessary, basic information for creating and optimizing Performance Max campaigns. The most important question remains, which we should actually ask ourselves at the very beginning. 

    Is a Performance Max campaign for me?

    Of course, it depends! There are some important points to consider.
    Google tells us that “Advertisers using Performance Max, on their account, see an average increase in conversions of 13% at a similar cost per action.” This is very encouraging. In the campaigns I have on my clients’ accounts, these results vary widely, on some I have a much higher increase in conversions at a lower cost, on others the conversions are more, but the increase is proportional to the cost per conversion, and on still others the results are downright worse. On the accounts that the Performance Max campaign “weakened” I noticed a tendency that this may have been caused by the auto-generated video, every time I add it myself, the results increase significantly. I’ll also mention that for those weaker results, the campaigns run for quite a short time, so there’s still hope 😊.

    Generally Perfo-Max works great for lead customers, where the main goal is to get a contact. This is also what Google recommends to us. It complements us very nicely with other channels already present in the accounts.

    Another VERY IMPORTANT thing, let’s not treat this type of campaign as something that can work for us in an account on its own, as the only type of campaign. This is not a good idea. Mainly because of the inability to control the traffic our ads generate. Performance Max is designed to fill in the gaps that are unfilled by campaigns in other channels. You could say that we “feed” this campaign with data and results from other campaigns. Perfo-Max can generate most of the conversions, yes, but without this “feeding” it with data from other sources, we will not get such good results.

    Another important piece of information is that iPLA and local campaigns, from 07.2022 will be automatically transferred to Performance Max, and from 09.2022 will completely disappear on all accounts. That’s why it’s a good idea to get gradually accustomed to Perfo-Max now and quietly transfer your campaigns to it.

    While we’re at PLA campaigns, it’s important to remember that when you create a product-based Performance Max campaign on your account, it takes priority over a regular PLA campaign. So if PLA is performing poorly for you then it will definitely be worth testing the advantages of the new campaign. 

    I also found a lot of vague information regarding the priority of ads in different campaigns with Perfo-Max. Fortunately, Google comes to our aid and provides us with a very clear table, which I have briefly described below.

    In the case of YouTube and Discovery, the most important thing is the ranking of the ad, the better it is, the higher priority the ad has in displaying. In the case of the search network campaign, if we have added keywords in close match (to the search campaign), then we can be sure that the ad from this campaign will be displayed before the search ad from the Performance Max campaign.

    An interesting piece of information that may convince us to use this type of campaign is that – according to Google – the user’s conversion path extends strongly, in some cases reaching up to 500 points of user contact with ads before a conversion occurs This is where only an efficient, fast-learning algorithm will really help. 


    Performance Max type campaigns are very much in line with the trend that Google and digital agencies are heading. Millions of algorithms, learning systems, artificial intelligence, etc. are the definition of our future. The role of today’s SEM specialist is evolving day by day. We need to keep up with the trends in order not to be left behind along with our clients. The accelerating development of Google Ads raises the question, will SEM specialists be needed in the future in general? Will all the work be taken over by algorithms for us?

    I believe that there is no need to be afraid of “this future”. It is inevitable, and instead of panicking, it is better to prepare for it properly by implementing solutions such as Performance Max, or at least reading about them. With the right experience, skill base and an open mind, we won’t be frightened by any novelties or changes that are already taking place in the places we know so well (e.g., moving away from ETA ads). 

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    Norbert Waleszczyk
    Norbert Waleszczyk

    I have been passionate about technology and programming for many years. I specialize in JavaScript and TypeScript, which allows me to create dynamic and flexible web applications. Over the course of my career, I have gained experience in a variety of projects, from simple websites to complex systems integrated with databases. I'm also a fan of JAMStack technology, which allows me to create fast, secure and scalable applications, which is crucial for me when it comes to the quality and usability of the products I create. In my free time, I love experimenting with new technologies and constantly evolving.