Performance Max: Pros and Cons
Performance Max is Google’s newest campaign type, and as of July 2022, all Smart Shopping Campaigns are now switched over to Performance Max. So what is Performance Max and what are the pros and cons of this campaign type?
What is Performance Max?
According to Google Ads: Performance Max is a new goal-based campaign type that allows performance advertisers to access all of their Google Ads inventory through a single campaign. It’s designed to complement your keyword-based Search campaigns to help you find more converting customers across all of Google’s channels like YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps.
- Quick and easy setup
While Search campaigns require lists of keywords or Dynamic Search Ad targets grouped into ad groups with corresponding ads, a Performance Max campaign simply requires an audience signal and some ad copy and images in one Asset Group. Google will automatically generate ads out of different combinations of the ad copy and image/video assets you give it, and will show those ads to users who fit the audience you define in your audience signal. No keywords, ad groups, ads, or Dynamic Ad Targets necessary.
- Google’s automation does the work for you
After a quick and easy setup of your campaign settings (which includes budget and bid strategy) and Asset Groups (which includes your creative assets and an Audience Signal to guide targeting), Google does the rest for you! No bid adjustments or audience targeting adjustments necessary. Both remarketing and prospecting, Performance Max will show to existing users and to many new users, and will show in a number of ad formats and placements. In many cases, Google is able to achieve your campaign goals just using the limited information you give in the campaign settings and the data Google has.
- High number of impressions and takes advantage of all of Google’s inventory
While Performance Max takes advantage of all of Google’s inventory, these campaigns typically result in a very high number of impressions – much higher than impressions from your average Search campaigns. That’s because Google is showing your ads in every possible placement and ad type that could result in a conversion. Since this campaign utilizes all of Google inventory, it may allow you to run ad types that you haven’t before, or that haven’t performed well for you before. For example, you may find that Display and Discovery ads are high cost per conversion and low ROAS in normal Display or Discovery campaigns, while you see a much lower cost per conversion from Performance Max and higher ROAS.
- Limited insights and reporting
You cannot see a Search Terms report to identify which search terms are driving impressions, clicks, and results from your Performance Max campaign. You cannot see which ad copy or ad assets or ad types are performing best. If you have multiple asset groups in one Performance Max campaign, you cannot see performance metrics by asset group – all performance reporting is at the campaign level. Because of this, Performance Max may seem like a mysterious black hole in the Google Ads universe. But if the campaign performs well for you, let’s not question it.
- Limited control
Google only allows these Smart bidding strategies to be used on a Performance Max campaign: Max Conversions, Max Conversion Value, Max Conversions with a Target CPA, or Max Conversion Value with a Target ROAS. You cannot set a Max CPC or adjust bids yourself. You cannot exclude keywords or apply a Shared Negative Keyword List. You cannot narrow your audience to any specific Audience Segment(s). Running a Performance Max campaign requires completely trusting Google’s automation outside of the settings you are able to apply yourself on this campaign.
- It’s still new
While Performance Max is still new, it is continually being updated and improved. When the campaign type first became available, it was not able to be downloaded and edited through Google Ads Editor – but now it is. When it first became available, you were not able to add ad extensions to an Asset Group – but now you can. There are many things still to come for this campaign type, which can be seen as a Pro, if you are patient and make use of all that you can with Performance Max in the meantime.
In conclusion, Performance Max is an exciting new option for both paid media novices and experts to try. As Google leans more and more towards automation over manual setup and campaign management, Performance Max provides an insight to how well Google is capable of achieving your paid media goals when you hand over the reins to Google. While Performance Max will not be a fit for every business, it is worth a test, whether your company is B2B or B2C, big or small, niche or broad.