What is Performance Max in Google Ads?

Performance Max, or P-Max as it is otherwise known, was introduced by Google in late 2020 as a new way to advertise across the whole Google network in one campaign. It was launched to the public after a year of beta testing in November 2021. Performance Max aims to maximise the performance of Google Ads in terms of increasing conversions and offers access to all of Google’s advertising channels, including Google Search, YouTube, Gmail, and Shopping. However, some have criticised Performance Max for its lack of control and limited visibility into the campaign and ad insights, as well as its potential to negatively impact Search campaigns.


How does Performance Max work

P-Max uses automation and machine learning to target and deliver ads to users. Advertisers provide information such as campaign goals, creatives, budget, and target metrics, and Google’s Smart Bidding technology takes over to optimise for conversions across all channels, acting as a full-funnel campaign.

Smart Bidding allows for real-time management of various elements including bids, budgets, audiences, creatives, and attributions. P-Max also utilises machine learning to improve over time, but it may take about 6-8 weeks for stable performance to be achieved.

Despite its automated features, it is still important for advertisers to actively manage their P-Max campaigns to ensure their success.


When To Use Google Performance Max Campaigns

Google recommends using P-Max for campaigns that meet the following criteria:

  • Have specific advertising and conversion goals (it is advisable to set SMART goals for optimal results)
  • Are not limited to a specific channel and allow for flexibility to adapt in real-time
  • Seek an all-access pass to Google’s advertising channels through a single campaign
  • Want to enhance keyword-based Search campaigns by reaching a larger audience and increasing conversions.


Finding new customers

P-Max now offers a Customer Acquisition conversion setting, which was previously only available in Smart Shopping campaigns. This goal allows advertisers to prioritise targeting new customers and makes it easier to identify them through Customer Match lists, conversion tags, and autodetection. Advertisers can bid more aggressively for new customers or optimise their campaigns to only target them.

While this setting may reduce traffic and increase the cost per lead, it prevents existing customers from seeing the ads (or reduces their visibility if the lower bid option is selected). Advertisers can easily set up this feature by checking a box and confirming their audience list of customers.


Audience signals

P-Max campaigns have a unique feature called Audience Signals, which allows advertisers to suggest audiences to Google’s machine learning algorithms to optimise conversions. While it is optional, Audience Signals can be a valuable tool for guiding the machine learning algorithms towards audiences that are more likely to convert.

It is important to use strong, specific audience lists to avoid showing ads to a large, irrelevant audience. Using Audience Signals can help ensure that P-Max campaigns are targeted towards the right audiences.


The benefits

Performance Max offers several benefits to advertisers, including:

  • Access to the entire Google Network, which can enhance keyword-based search campaigns through targeted ad delivery
  • Automation of the bidding and ad buying process through Smart Bidding, including the generation of ads based on provided creative assets
  • Audience signals to guide machine learning algorithms towards more effective audiences
  • Improved insights through features like Asset Audience Insights and Diagnostic Insights
  • Goal-focused campaigns to help achieve marketing objectives.

Overall, Performance Max is designed to make it easier to set up Google Ads campaigns and optimise performance in real time.


The negatives

P-Max is intended for users with less knowledge and experience in Google Ads, but this can lead to some pitfalls for novice users. These include:

  • Unclear goals leading to underperforming campaigns
  • Limited performance visibility, making it difficult to understand which channels are working and to provide actionable reports to clients
  • Relying too heavily on automation and losing control over campaigns
  • Lack of ability to extract specific insights for campaigns or asset combinations, such as performance data by platform. It is important for advertisers to be careful in setting up and optimizing P-Max campaigns to avoid wasting money on poorly crafted campaigns. Additionally, the concept of automation can reduce control for marketing agencies, who may be used to analyzing data and finding optimization opportunities themselves.


The conclusion

You can decide if P-Max Campaigns are the right campaign type to help you reach your marketing objectives and goals now that you understand a little more about how they work.

Here at Byte Digital, we have a standard operating procedure for setting up successful Performance Max campaigns. Contact us if you would like to know more about how we manage Performance Max.

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Posted by Gareth Allen

With over 22 years of expertise spanning various industries, Gareth Allen is a seasoned digital marketing specialist and Project Lead. His career journey has blended his design background with technical skills, producing remarkable outcomes. Gareth’s adeptness in creating compelling digital strategies has consistently driven profit growth for businesses. He excels in steering high-quality traffic and achieving remarkable sales conversions. His knowledge of website technicals, including front-end development (HTML/CSS), proves invaluable in optimising user experiences and page speed which directly influence conversion rates.