Should You Use Performance Max Campaigns in Google Ads?

Every Google Ads advertiser has probably heard of Performance Max by now. From Google: “Performance Max is a new goal-based campaign type that allows performance advertisers to access all of their Google Ads inventory from a single campaign.”

And Google isn’t shy about how amazing they think Performance Max is: “Performance Max helps you drive performance based on your specified conversion goals, delivering more conversions and value by optimizing performance in real-time and across channels using Smart Bidding. Performance Max combines Google’s automation technologies across bidding, budget optimization, audiences, creatives, attribution, and more. They’re all empowered by your specific advertising objective (for example, if you have a CPA or ROAS target) and the creative assets, audience signals, and optional data feeds you provide.”

I’ve tested Performance Max in several Google Ads accounts and I’ve found it to be very successful in some, mediocre in others, and downright abysmal at times. So should you test Performance Max? Ask yourself these 4 questions:

Question 1: Do You Have Iron-Clad Conversion Data in Google Ads?

As they say in computer programming, Garbage In Garbage Out (GIGO). So if you don’t have your conversion tracking set up correctly you won’t likely have success with Performance Max. This is easiest for ecommerce because revenue is the usually the ultimate goal. However, for lead gen advertisers this gets more difficult. You likely need to think about Offline Conversion Import (OCI) to update conversion values as leads progress through the funnel. For the smart bidding to do it’s job you’ll need to tell it which leads are good for your business and which ones are garbage (because there is still plenty of that out there.)

If you answered yes to this questions, move on to question 2. If not, don’t use PMax.

Question 2: Are You Comfortable With Ads Across All Google Ads Inventory?

When I say “all” I mean ALL. It will be showing ads on Google search results pages, Maps, Shopping results, search partners, Google Display Network, YouTube, apps, Discovery and Gmail. That compromises a vast majority of the web as we know it.

If you answered yes to this questions, move on to question 3. If not, don’t use PMax.

Question 3: Do You Want Precise Audience Targeting?

Say you’re an advertiser that know exactly who you want your ads in front of. You have personas that describe these people by their job titles, income levels, seniority at their current company, how big that company is, where they live, etc. If you want to limit your impressions and spend to just those people, you’d better go do some LinkedIn Ads.

Or maybe you’ve had success with using in-market audience, affinity audiences, or custom intent audiences with your Google Ads campaigns. Those don’t work with Performance Max.

You do have the ability to add Audience Signals during the creation of Asset Groups in a Performance Max campaign. Here is what that means: “Audience signals allow you to add audience suggestions that help Google Ads automation optimize for your selected goals.” So you can point the algorithm in the right direction, but it doesn’t have to listen if it thinks there are conversions outside that target.

If you answered no to this questions, move on to question 4. If not, don’t use PMax.

Question 4: Do You Have Strict Guidelines on Creative?

Performance Max really leans into the dynamic nature of ad creation. You provide assets and it goes from there. That can include the following:

  • Images: Up to 15
  • Logos: Up to 5
  • Videos: Up to 5 (and if you don’t provide any, Google will auto-generate them for you)
  • Headlines: Up to 5 (with a 30 character limit)
  • Long Headlines: Up to 5 (with a 90 character limit)
  • Descriptions: One short description up to 60 characters and then 4 more with a 90 character limit
  • Call To Action: Select from their preloaded list
  • Business Name
  • URL pathways
  • Final URL

Google will take all that info and create ads that fit the myriad placements around the web. And with the nature of machine learning, it will create some ads that you probably don’t like. Or you might be in an industry where creative is highly regulated (looking at you legal and healthcare).

If you answered no to this question, congratulations! You should consider testing PMax.

Should You Use Performance Max Campaigns In Google Ads?