Change is the only constant in ecommerce, whether that’s fluctuations in search terms or shifting consumer trends. Google’s Performance Max helps you handle that change with automation features that make advertising a breeze across multiple platforms.
Even better—If you’ve already advertised with Google’s Smart Shopping campaigns in the past, your account is automatically upgraded to Performance Max. So whether you’re new to Google Ads in general or just new to this tool, here are some tips to make your campaigns more effective with smarter marketing.
Table of Contents
1. One Campaign, Multiple Platforms
Businesses rarely advertise on just one app or platform. Google Ads’ Performance Max saves a massive amount of time by allowing you to buy ads across YouTube, Google Maps, and Search from a single interface. Now, you can spend less time juggling multiple ad accounts and other administrative tasks and instead invest it into creating campaigns that convert.
This is particularly useful for businesses that have adopted omnichannel marketing. This marketing approach integrates multiple organizational channels and streamlines them into a single consistent brand experience. Whether you’re building a local campaign for a brick-and-mortar store on Google Maps or announcing a recent discount via YouTube Shorts, you’re one step closer to achieving that consistency with a Performance Max campaign.
Google Ads’ Performance Max uses the following inputs to refine your campaigns:
- Your Goals: Google Performance Max is completely goal-based. The most important input that you will have to decide on when creating a campaign is the ultimate end goal. Are you looking to boost online sales (subscriptions, online/in-app purchases), generate leads (form signups, request quotes, phone call leads), or increase offline sales?
- Creative Assets: You can automate ad timings and audience discovery, but not premium creative assets. You’ll still need to upload high-quality copy, videos, and image assets for the Performance Max campaigns. There is a feature that can automate these, but we recommend creating your own for the best results.
- Time: It can be a while before you see results when working with machine learning inputs. Marketers using Google Performance Max shouldn’t expect to see results immediately. Allow for at least four weeks for the algorithm to process audience demographic data and refine targeting.
2. Better Targeting
Just like Shopify’s new Audiences feature, Audience Signals is a Google Performance Max exclusive that could potentially reshape the way we look at ad targeting. Audience Signals uses machine learning algorithms to discover your ideal target audience, these users will be most likely to convert through your Performance Max campaign.
The Performance Max algorithm, powered by Google Ads, is already incredibly adept at figuring out the kind of content that each audience prefers to see. This is an impressive feat considering the size of its user base. In fact, 33% of shoppers say that they’ve purchased products they discovered on YouTube. Audience Max is just another way to harness that powerful algorithm and channel it toward your success.
Google’s revamped Performance Max Customer Acquisition tab also gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of targeting, compared to the earlier dashboard. From here, you can optimize campaigns to focus on acquiring new customers, as well as bid more for them. The popular Smart Shopping feature has more bite to it in this new iteration.
Smart bidding is a valuable feature for any business, big or small. Platforms like Instagram frequently face user complaints over being shown the same few targeted ads, even if they’ve already used the products in question. Marketers can sidestep this issue with Performance Max campaigns, as they can opt to have their ads not be shown at all to existing customers. This can increase the average cost per lead, but having the ability to use Customer Match data and autodetection just might be worth it.
3. Support for New Formats
Viewership for short-form content on YouTube increased by 135% in 2022. It’s clear that customers are consuming more short-form content than ever before, whether that’s on YouTube or Meta. Advertisers have to keep pace with that change to reap the benefits. Google Performance Max puts you in the driver’s seat here by allowing you to upload video assets and create video ads with their in-house builder.
Your Performance Max campaigns can also take advantage of this increased viewership with in-feed and in-stream ads. In-feed ads will place your products right next to relevant long or short-form video content using intelligent tagging. Google Ads and Performance Max can significantly increase the likelihood of conversion this way since viewers will most likely be watching videos about a niche that they are already interested in. Marketers can cover both short and long-form content by advertising in-stream and through shorts.
4. Richer Insights
Google Performance Max’s insights are segmented by audience. You can analyze how a particular audience responds to a video-based ad on YouTube as opposed to a text-based one on Google Search, for example. This level of differentiation is invaluable for businesses that want to make the most of their ad campaigns. A successful campaign on YouTube will differ in many ways from one on Google Maps, and using this feature well can let you know exactly what to do.
Diagnostic insights will automatically let you know why your ads aren’t showing up for audiences or why they haven’t been approved, making each successive Performance Max campaign more likely to succeed. Additionally, you’ll also receive suggestions from Google and Performance Max to help you fix those issues. Combine this with Google’s new Video Indexing Reports feature to optimize your ad performance both offsite and on-site.
Strong automation features are a must-have for any marketer working with a mid-sized campaign. Google Ads’ Performance Max checks those boxes and then some with all-new updates to automation, designed to reduce your workload and also deliver better results while doing it.
- Stay Ahead of Trends: Consumer mindsets are always changing, and keyword research is hardly an exact science for most businesses. Performance Max’s automated bidding features use broad-match keywords to help your product show up for high-performing search terms. With over 80% of Google advertisers already relying on automated bidding, this feature might just have become a necessity.
- Performance Max Campaign Management: Enter your conversion goals for the campaign, whether that’s online sales, offline sales, or lead generation, and Google Performance Max will automatically delegate bidding with machine learning to accomplish those goals.
Smart Bidding, in this case, refers to bid strategies used by Google’s algorithm to optimize each action for a given goal, such as maximizing conversions. This is similar to Google’s Target CPA bidding, another popular tool for optimizing campaigns. Here’s why it’s worth paying attention to Smart Bidding:
- Accurate Predictions: Machine learning processes an immense amount of data to arrive at more accurate predictions for your marketing campaign. The biggest benefit of machine learning is that it can consider a far wider range of conditions than any single marketer or even a small team could.
- Flexible Controls: With Google Performance Max, your goals are your own. You can specify the exact targets that you would like to achieve with the algorithm, and your Performance Max campaign will adapt to meet them. Soon, you’ll also be able to set varying conversion targets for different devices, allowing for a whole new level of customization.
- Detailed Reporting: As seen with Google Analytics, the power to access transparent reporting for your marketing is an invaluable tool. Google Ads’ Performance Max carries this legacy forward with strategy reports that show you exactly what your campaigns are doing for your business’s growth.
One feature that marketers will love is the Bid Simulator. This will allow you to forecast how a different bid might have affected your overall ad campaign. For example, let’s say you’ve got a Google Performance Max CPC budget of $0.75 per click, but you’d like to see what you could’ve done with a budget of $1 per click. The simulator will quickly account for all these parameters and show you an estimate of the number of clicks and conversions that your campaign would have received in those conditions.
Can Performance Max Campaigns Do It All?
Performance Max has all the makings of a great tool that can help even beginners drive effective campaigns, but it can hardly be considered a replacement for the years of expertise that a team of marketing specialists brings to the table. New users can easily fall for some of the more glaring shortcomings of Performance Max, including:
- Ambiguous Goals: Your team needs to be clear on what your goals are for the campaign. A lack of clarity here can be a fatal error, as Google Performance Max isn’t just a button you hit to increase conversions or boost sales. For example, if your sales funnel and copy aren’t optimized to convert and you’re still investing heavily into Performance Max, the results might be less than stellar.
- Limited Insights: Smart Bidding reporting aside, it is still difficult to analyze specific campaign-level insight. Say you’d like to extract Performance Max data for a campaign you were running on Google Search while excluding all metrics for other platforms like YouTube. In its current state, doing so is difficult because platform-specific data isn’t available.
Compared to Google Ads and Performance Max, the granular level of data and customization offered by a dedicated platform like Google Analytics appears to be more valuable than ever. Marketers shouldn’t treat Performance Max as a substitute for the big-picture view offered by Google Analytics. For example, the ability to manually customize goals and get a device-specific look at user behavior is still an area where Google Performance Max is playing catch-up.
- The Pitfalls of Automation: Efficient automation is a powerful tool by any measure, but automation without direction can be a burden. Businesses could find themselves burning through their budget by going all-in on Performance Max campaigns that haven’t been optimized to their needs. What level of CPC should your business target to maximize ROI? Strategy is everything here.
- Mobile Device Exclusion: Marketers can’t exclude mobile users from their Performance Max advertising campaigns. While this won’t be an issue for most businesses that have already made the jump to a mobile-optimized website, those who haven’t should take note. If a high-value lead views an ad for your campaign on their phone, they’ll quickly turn into a bounce after visiting a non-optimized site.
Should you replace your other campaigns with Performance Max? Not at first. Goal-based automation can work wonders for businesses looking to maximize their outreach, but it should be seen as a complement to traditional keyword-based search campaigns. Keep both of these running together and observe what Google Performance Max can do for your business. If the results are positive, feel free to allocate more resources.
Max Out Your Performance
Performance Max isn’t a substitute for keyword-based campaigns, but it is certainly a worthy tool to have in your advertising arsenal. Set up a Performance Max campaign on Google Ads and enjoy easier customer acquisition with machine learning. To learn more about dominating ecommerce with digital marketing, reach out to Coalition Technologies, a trusted agency with a long track record of producing campaigns that deliver results.