Performance Max Ads – Best Practices


10 mins

Performance Max Ads Best Practices

Table of Contents

In 2022, Google generated a total of $224.47 billion worth of ad revenue. While this is a jaw-dropping figure, it doesn’t come as a surprise considering how the platform accounts for the majority of the global online and mobile search market. 

So, if you’re investing in online ads across different Google-owned channels, you’re on the right track. The question is, are you making the most out of every marketing dollar that you spend here?

That’s where Performance Max comes into play. 

If you’re looking for ways to leverage the (relatively) new type of ad campaign, we’ve got you covered with this rundown of Google Performance Max best practices.

What is a Performance Max campaign?

Performance Max is an automated campaign structure that uses machine learning and automation technologies to help understand consumer trends. Armed with this information, you can make appropriate and timely adjustments to your ad campaigns across all Google channels, including search, YouTube, Gmail, and Discovery.

This sounds a bit complicated and might even seem intimidating at first, but at its core, Performance Max is designed to help you get the most out of your ads. So there’s no reason to sidestep it like it’s a land mine.  

If it’s not yet a part of your marketing strategy, you might be missing out on tons of opportunities to generate leads and convert them into sales. 

Consider this:

Consumer behaviour changes constantly. Every time it does, you have to deal with new opinions and higher levels of expectations. 

It has significant implications for the way you should do things, whether you’re a business owner or a marketer. That’s because you have to consider the market trends when allocating your resources, identifying opportunities, and making big business decisions.   

Three elements drive changes in consumer behaviour: 

  • The basic needs of consumers
  • Drivers of change
  • The latest innovations

Ultimately, a trend is not a result of any one of these elements but rather their interaction with one another. 

To illustrate, basic needs are deeply rooted in fundamental wants and desires, which rarely change. That’s why if you look closely at popular movies or music, you will often see a recurring theme. 

So how does a change start?

One is through shifts and triggers in the population or “drivers.” Some of the most common examples are long-term events, like urban transitions or an ageing populace, and immediate changes, like political events, economic shocks, and more.  

Another possibility is through innovations. Startups, novel products, and new services or experiences that resolve points of consumer tension using a refreshingly new approach elevate consumer expectations to new heights. 

As a digital marketer, how do you fit in amid all of these changing dynamics?

You have to be on your toes all the time and keep track of where the market is (or might be) headed. That’s because, in this paradigm, the strategies that worked for you yesterday may not be as effective tomorrow. 

The beauty of Performance Max is that it allows you to keep up with trends as they emerge and with minimal effort. That’s because it does most of the heavy lifting using an automated process. 

You can buy and optimise ads, and then Performance Max will show them in different formats, depending on what Google property you’re on.

Another great thing about it is that it can complement your keyword-based campaigns thanks to a new feature called Final URL Expansion, which we’ll talk more about later.

What are the benefits of Performance Max?

1. Increased conversions

One of the biggest draws of Performance Max campaigns is that they can help increase your conversion rate. 

Remember that it uses automation technologies on key processes like bidding, which eliminates most of the grunt work needed to optimise your campaigns. 

All you have to do is add your budget, targets, and the conversions that you’d like to keep tabs on. Performance Max will take care of the rest. 

You’d be able to get more things done without having to invest more time and energy, making your marketing efforts more effective. It also leaves you free to focus on other essential tasks. As a result, you squeeze more value out of your marketing budget. 

To illustrate, digital marketers who launch Performance Max ads today already see a 13% increase in conversion for a similar cost per action, proving that it’s a better option than any generic search campaign.

2. Identify and connect with new customers

Another thing you can look forward to with Performance Max campaigns is breaking into new markets. It leans heavily on the giant search engine’s ability to recognise user intent, consumer preferences, and other aspects of your customers’ behaviours.

Backed by this capability, your ads will show up at exactly the right moments, right when your target audience is looking for your type of products or services. As a result, you’d be able to generate more leads. 

Even better, these are high-quality prospects that are easier to convince and turn into paying customers or clients. 

If you combine this with your boosted conversion rate, what you get is more sales and bigger profit margins for your business.

3. Obtain valuable data insights

The transition to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) from Universal Analytics will soon be official. With this move, you’ll gain access to a treasure trove of valuable consumer data, thanks to GA4’s Insights page. 

The good thing about Performance Max is that it’s not redundant. It was designed to help you make sense of how Google’s algorithm is handling your ad campaigns. 

On top of that, Performance Max has built-in features that will show you which audience segments and combinations of images resonate the most with your ideal users. 

You can use this information to create custom reports, allowing you to fine-tune your current and future campaigns with more accuracy.  This will help you keep your campaigns fresh and compelling to your target audience.

4. Consolidate your ad creatives

Performance Max’s list of benefits continues with the consolidation of your ad creatives across all Google channels. 

It takes all your creative assets — from headlines and descriptions to images and videos — and combines them with your knowledge of your target audience to serve up better ads for your existing customer base. These are ads that are customised and designed for maximum relevance or performance. 

What’s more, this method can also help you find and connect with more potential customers.

When it comes to generating a more targeted creative, Performance Max works best with GA4. You can use GA4 to make custom reports which you can then use to identify which assets are more effective when paired with each other. This will be a great source of inspiration for your future assets.   

How long does it take for Performance Max to work?

Using Performance Max ads is one of the best decisions you could make to drive growth and boost conversions. It’s built to deliver results across different media channels and meet a wide range of marketing objectives. 

However, you have to give it enough time to do its magic. Remember that it uses a machine learning algorithm to compare performances, and just like other AI-based technologies, it needs to gather sufficient data. 

That’s why one of the Performance Max campaign best practices is to run it for at least six weeks. This time frame is recommended for all types of businesses. 

If you’re using an automated bidding strategy, you’ll have to wait for one to two weeks before you see the performance of your campaign start ramping up toward the goal that you set.

How the ad review process works

Another thing that you need to consider before launching a campaign is that all ads go through a review process to see if they comply with all of Google’s policy requirements. This step is designed to ensure that they are safe and appropriate for everyone who might see them.  

Here’s how it works:

As soon as you create or change an ad, its review process starts automatically. Google will go on and look at its headline, description, keywords usage, and destination. They will also evaluate all the videos and images included in the ad. 

Once your ad passes the evaluation, its status will change from “Under Review” to “Eligible,” after which the ad will start to run. However, if your ad violates one of Google’s policies, you’ll get a notification, and its status will change to “Disapproved.”

The entire process usually takes one business day, but sometimes, it can take up to two days.

What is needed for Performance Max?

One of the great things about Performance Max is that it saves you a lot of time and energy in optimising your marketing efforts. Just make sure that you follow current Performance Max Campaigns best practices and have everything in place before launching. 

Here’s what you need to get started on building your asset group:

  • Up to 15 different images
  • Up to five logos
  • Up to five videos
  • Up to five headlines with a maximum of 30 characters
  • Up to five long headlines with a maximum of 90 characters
  • Four descriptions that are up to 90 characters each and a shorter one with a maximum of 60 characters
  • A call to action chosen from available layouts combined with the name of your business or brand
  • A pathway for your display URL and another one for mobile

Note that if you upload a horizontal video, Google might crop or rotate it so it would fit in a square or vertical format. Also, if you decide not to upload any videos, they will automatically create one for you based on your other creative assets within the same asset group.

You could upload your own video while you build your campaign or wait until after it has been launched. Google Ads has a native tool that you can use to create videos for your Performance Max campaigns.  

Aside from the above Performance Max creative best practices, another thing that you need to remember is that you’re allowed to create one asset group during the setup phase of your campaign, but you could add more later on. 

All of your assets here will be automatically organised into different applicable formats so that you can show the most relevant creative.

Performance Max ads best practices

Here are nine best practices for performance max campaigns that will help you get the most value out of your marketing budget:

1. Use Performance Max ads along with other search campaigns

If you want to maximise your reach, it’s best to use Performance Max ads in conjunction with search campaigns. 

Here’s why this is part of Google Ads Performance Max practices:

If you run a search campaign and the keyword you’re competing in matches the user’s search query exactly, Google will show its ad. However, if the query is not an exact match, Google will run either the campaign search ad or the Performance Max ad. It will all boil down to which one has the higher Ad Rank score. 

Either way, you don’t miss out on any opportunity to connect with your target audience.

2. Define your goals

Before you can come up with marketing strategies to implement, you need to first define what your goals are. From there, you can set up your campaign in such a way that will align with the targets that you have set. 

Your objectives would vary depending on what your needs or strengths are. For instance, you can focus on increasing sales, generating more high-quality leads, or driving more store visits. 

All the steps you take moving forward should take you closer to achieving this goal.

3. Choose the right bidding strategy

Performance Max has two available bidding strategies. You should choose the one that aligns with your business goals the most. 

The first strategy is to maximise conversions, which is the appropriate option if you want to get the most conversions. So if you’re looking to expand your email list, get more people to call, or generate more leads, this is the way to go. 

The second strategy is to maximise conversion value, which allows you to focus on specific areas that you feel are more valuable to your business, like having more leads instead of phone calls. 

4. Keep Final URL Expansion on

Performance Max has a feature called Final URL Expansion, which you might find useful. It automatically customises your ads so they match certain search queries, even if you’re not competing for their keywords. 

What Google does is it chooses a landing page from your site that’s closest to the user query and develops a dynamic headline and description for it.  

Note that it might not make sense to use this feature if you have just one landing page where you funnel all your leads. What you can do instead is restrict certain URLs. 

5. Provide a variety of ad creative assets

Google allows you to supply a wide variety of assets, so make sure you make the most of it. For instance, use the maximum number of descriptions, headlines, or videos. Doing this gives Google plenty to work with. 

Visual content is very effective in terms of grabbing the attention of your target audience, so make sure that you follow Performance Max images best practices. In addition, keep your content fresh, and try to upload relevant content regularly.   

6. Add Audience Signals

Adding Audience Signals or specifying certain groups speeds up the machine-learning process, so make sure that you give your suggestions. It will help Google go after the right audience, allowing you to generate more high-quality leads that are easier to convert. 

7. Use Customer Match

If you have your own data about your target audience, you can use Customer Match instead of adding Audience Signals. This feature allows you to connect with and re-engage customers using the information that they share with you. 

8. Run your ad campaigns for at least 6 weeks

As mentioned above, the machine learning algorithm needs at least six weeks to gather sufficient data. So once you launch your ad campaign, try to run it for this amount of time or longer.  

9. Add negative keywords using your account settings

While it’s important to target the right keywords, it’s equally important to exclude phrases from your campaigns. You wouldn’t want to waste your marketing budget and other resources on unwanted views and clicks that have no chance of leading to a sale. 

Using negative keywords can help you do this. As of now, you can’t do this with Performance Max ads at a campaign level, but you can add them at the account level in your account settings. 

Performance Max gives you access to Google’s vast ecosystem of apps, which opens up endless possibilities for your ad campaigns. That said, you need to follow current best practices and make use of reporting tools that can help you glean valuable customer insights. 

Reporting Ninja’s PPC marketing reporting software has an intuitive report editor, an extensive selection of templates, a rich widget library, and anything else you would need to create compelling reports with a few clicks. 

Sign up now for a free trial and see how Reporting Ninja can help you maximise the performance of your Google Ads.

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