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Our Take on Performance Max

Digital marketing is constantly evolving. When I started working in the industry ten years ago, the landscape looked vastly different than it does today. Platforms and practices have changed immensely, and automation has played a significant role in that change. Automation has made digital marketing more effective and efficient, and I believe it will only continue to help us better serve our clients and reach our objectives. As the landscape continues to change, we need to be prepared to adapt our strategies and tactics accordingly. But with automation on our side, we're in a much better position to do so.

Digital marketing is an ever-evolving industry. As new technology emerges, we must learn to leverage it to achieve better results. Today, we are spending less time with mundane tasks like manual bid changes and instead focusing on strategy while we allow algorithms to carry more of the weight. And the fact is, they are better at those tasks anyway. The question now is, how can we use automation to achieve even better results?

Google and other platforms continue to find new ways to help us be successful. Performance Max campaigns are a big step forward in that regard. But with an innovation like this, there are pros and cons. And there is a right and wrong way to execute and optimize. When done correctly, automation can help us free up time to focus on the bigger picture. But when misused, it can lead to subpar results and a waste of time and effort. As digital marketers, it is up to us to stay educated on the latest innovations and trends to always use the best methods to reach our goals.

Let's dive straight in.

As digital marketing evolves, so do businesses' ways to reach their target audiences. Google's Performance Max (or PMax) campaigns are the latest development in this arena, offering a goal-based approach that uses automation and multiple data points to determine when and where your ads should be shown. This "one size fits all" campaign type significantly differs from traditional methods. It represents an exciting shift in how Google uses machine learning to control ads' look, timing, and placement. While Performance Max campaigns are still relatively new, they are already starting to replace Smart Shopping campaigns as the best practice for reaching consumers online. As Google continues to develop this innovative approach to digital marketing, businesses will need to stay ahead of the curve to ensure that their campaigns are practical and efficient.

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What level of control do you have?

While it may feel like you are handing over the keys to Google when you sign up for a PMax campaign, that is not entirely true. There are still several ways to control the campaign targeting and likelihood of success. For example, you can control the keywords that are targeted, in-market & affinity audiences, demographics and interests. You can also influence the ad copy and landing pages that are used. In addition, you can control the budget and schedule for the campaign. As a result, while you may not have complete control over the campaign, you still have significant influence.

Here are some of the critical attributes you have control of:

  • Goal setting
  • Budgets
  • Creative and copy assets
  • Geo-targeting
  • Product feeds
  • Audience signals
  • Bidding (Limited)
  • URL expansion
  • Extensions
  • Customer Acquisition

There is no denying that PMax campaigns can be powerful tools for marketing success. However, it is essential to remember that there are right and wrong ways to utilise them. From your expectations around output to the role they might play in a marketing funnel to following best practices around creative assets, having a clear strategy and executing will be crucial to success. Control the message and influence the conversation. In other words, PMax campaigns should be crafted with care and thoughtfulness to be genuinely effective. By following these best practices, you can maximize the chances of your PMax campaign achieving its goals.

Where will my ads be served?

Pretty much everywhere. Google believes that all of its ad inventory is valuable. The company asserted that more targeting options would be combined into a more straightforward campaign, allowing machine learning to dictate the best placement for an advertiser. In the past, mixing network placement in the same movement was discouraged because it often resulted in lowered Performance. However, with automated bidding, that is no longer an issue. Google's "full inventory" approach will likely benefit advertisers and the platform itself.

Advantages of Performance Max.

When it comes to using PMax for marketing campaigns, there are many advantages to consider. For one, PMax is highly effective at reaching target audiences. By personalizing messages and using data-driven insights, PMax ensures that your campaigns are as impactful as possible. In addition, PMax is also very efficient, saving you time and money by automating many of the tasks associated with campaign management.

The most obvious advantage of using an automated ad placement solution like PMax is the ability to leverage automation fully. Bid automation has proven that it can outperform a human's ability to bid effectively to a goal with the correct data input. I embrace an automation solution like PMax that does the same with ad placement and creatives as well. As you dive into the functionality of how they work in your Google Ads account, there are some clear benefits as well. Most notably is how they work with your existing Search campaigns. Currently, PMax is only replacing Smart Shopping, and other campaigns like Search campaigns should play nicely with PMax campaigns. Search keywords will take priority, giving the advertiser some control when targeting high-priority search terms.

Performance Max Considerations

While Google's PMax tool provides some advantages to advertisers regarding automation and efficiency, there are also some apparent drawbacks. One of the biggest concerns is that it gives Google more control over ad targeting, which can lead to higher spending levels as advertisers cannot focus their targeting as quickly. Additionally, it can be more challenging to measure the effectiveness of campaigns when using PMax, as advertisers have less visibility into where their ads are being placed. Overall, while PMax has some benefits, advertisers must be aware of the potential downsides before using this tool.

As PMax campaigns are so new, this also adds some additional cons. They are still unavailable in Google Ads Editor, making them more manual to build as you expand. We have less data on them, so best practices are still evolving. And since they are new, we will likely experience frequent changes and updates from Google as they fine-tune. However, the potential benefits of these campaigns could make them well worth the effort for many advertisers. Unfortunately, reporting is also quite limited, but we're hopeful Google will release better reporting as the popularity of Performance Max continues to grow.

I say embrace it!

Automation is coming. It's already here and it's only going to grow. You can fight it or embrace it, but it seems clear that this is the direction digital advertising is going and has been going for some time. Performance Max is just one example of that.

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