Google Performance Max: What is it, and how can it help your brand

In recent years, Google has put firepower behind an evolving suite of automation tools built to help advertisers on Google Ads achieve performance growth with less manual intervention.  What began as Smart Bidding strategies (ie. Target ROAS, Target CPA, Maximize Conversions) evolved into Smart Shopping campaigns which promised increased automation and performance in exchange for control and transparency.  

In May 2021, Google introduced its next automated campaign type – Performance Max (PMax).  Let’s explore what it’s all about and why it matters. 

What is Google Performance Max?  

Performance Max is a goal-based campaign type that uses Smart Bidding to help advertisers get their ads served across all of Google's channels via one campaign.  

This means your ads can reach potential customers from a single campaign type across:  

  • Shopping  
  • Search  
  • Display  
  • YouTube  
  • Discover  
  • Gmail 
  • Maps  

By September 2022, Performance Max officially supplanted all Smart Shopping and Local campaigns (now deprecated) and has quickly become table stakes for anyone looking to compete on Google Ads. 

While some remain hesitant to hand over complete control of the reins, many are testing and realizing the benefits of Google’s vast array of proprietary data, targeting capabilities, and algorithms. 

Advantages of Performance Max 

Google cites 4 advantages to using PMax: 

1 - Improved performance 

  • Google’s automation and machine learning take care of the heavy lifting of ongoing budget and bid optimization across all channels to capture high-value conversions
2 - Tap into new audiences

  • Combining real-time understanding of consumer intents/preferences with audience signals, PMax unlocks untapped customer segments 
3 - Obtain valuable insights 6

  • When you visit the Insights page, you’ll find that Google “re-imagined how to design reporting to be more useful for you.”  Audience, asset and search terms are just a few of the insights you’ll have visibility into. 
4 - Creative-backed automation

  • One of PMax’s more unique features is its reliance on creative assets (images, logos, headlines, descriptions, videos and audience signals) supplied by the advertiser.  After uploading assets to asset groups, the system will then deploy the ads, mixing and matching to find the best performing ad across all channels. 

 The Way Forward - PMax + Quartile 

The common gripes – lack of transparency, less control, no negative keywords, ‘black box’ – when talking about Google’s automated campaign types have only grown with PMax.  But we’re finding more than a few silver linings as our team has pivoted and evolved to embrace the search giant’s latest move. 

Our approach is spearheaded and managed by our team of ecommerce veterans and includes: 

  • Regularly testing asset and campaign types 
  • Strategic segmentation to ensure all products receive maximum visibility to better meet goals 
  • Layering on proprietary technology to assist with automation goals and budget pacing 
  • Running complementary keyword-based Search campaigns 
  • Leveraging Quartile AI technology on standard Shopping campaigns when retailers opt to maintain more control (reporting, negative keywords, search queries) 

As you explore, test, and experiment on your own campaigns, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions as we all continue to learn and iterate. 

Isak Maybury - Director of Sales Enablement

Isak Maybury