Performance Max 101: How We’re Using Google’s New Tool

Parker West
April 6, 2022
Google’s latest campaign type could improve your conversions by 11%. Here’s how it works.

The time has come for Google to launch a new advertising product, and it’s one we’re very excited to present to our clients—Performance Max has arrived! 

So, what is Performance Max?’s a little complicated. But here’s the simplest overview we can muster: Performance Max allows you to create a single, goal-based campaign that is deployed across all of Google’s channels, including YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps. Essentially, you provide the objective, the creative assets, and the Audience Signals, and Google’s automation and machine learning handles the rest. The goal? To dynamically deliver the right ad to the right people on the right channel at the right time.

As a new product with a new algorithm, we like to give it plenty of runway to gather learnings. Therefore, we’re rolling this channel out to our clients slowly and deliberately. But Google’s internal study of Performance Max shows that most campaigns see an increase of at least 11% more conversions at the same CPA, and we're excited about the potential for quickly reaching clients’ target audiences.

So, are you ready to learn how Performance Max works? Let’s get to it. 

When would you use Performance Max?

Performance Max ads generally focus on traffic, engagement, and conversions, giving you the opportunity to work toward the following campaign objectives:

  • Sales
  • Leads
  • Engagement
  • Traffic
  • Local Store Visits and Promotions

While it is more of an “all in one” solution, there are campaign goals that are outside of what you would look to accomplish with Performance Max:

  • Product and Brand Consideration - Video
  • Brand Awareness and Reach - Display and Video
  • App Installs and In-App Action - App Campaigns

Although Google doesn’t allow us to optimize toward brand consideration or awareness objectives specifically under Performance Max, Google has made sure to make this campaign type an extremely viable and multifaceted option. 

For us, Performance Max is the initial all-in-one approach for new accounts to give us a solid performance baseline across Display, Shopping, Youtube, Search, and Gmail. Although it does include Search as a feature, it will not outperform single Search campaigns and they are to be used in concert.

What if you already have Smart Shopping or Smart Display campaigns running?

If you are already running these campaign types, odds are that you will be adding to your data sets that measure how people have interacted with your business. This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • General Site Visitors
  • Product Viewers
  • Add-to-Cart Abandoners

This will help new campaigns get off on the right foot, especially in this transition. We can expect an initial learning phase with Performance Max that will be slightly different for every account and depend on many factors including products, industry, and prior data accrued in the account. 

We use Performance Max as the pivot from Smart Shopping and Local Search, although there are times when we can’t fully extend the performance in terms of RoAS and CPA because the campaign is both conversion and awareness based.

In a case like this, we would use a combination of segmented Standard Shopping and Performance Max to achieve the most desirable results. That leads us to the assets we can and can’t use. 

What assets can we include in Performance Max?

  • 15 Images
  • 5 Logos
  • 5 Videos
  • 5 Headlines
  • 5 Long Headlines
  • 5 Descriptions

That’s a lot of content, right? Google uses the algorithms we know and love from crowd favorites like Local Search, Smart Display, and Smart Shopping to show people the kind of assets it needs across different devices.

How does Performance Max know who to target?

Google has introduced Audience Signals alongside Performance Max, which allows us to target audiences tailored to a  business. When creating an Audience Signal, we can look at data related to how people interacted with your business and get info on  Demographics, In-market Audiences, and Affinity Audiences. 

Performance Max uses Signals to find new audiences to target with Google Insights and can market to audiences across different platforms—it’s great. 

For example: imagine we’re selling coffee. We would use Affinity Audiences and demographics to target past purchasers, product viewers, general site visitors , and target interests like Coffee, Coffee & Tea Shops, and Organic Coffee from In-Market Audiences and Coffee Shop Regulars.

Maximizing performance over time

We're also excited to see how well Performance Max optimizes toward New Customer Acquisition (available in the coming months). While we hate to see some of our favorite great Google products leave, we’re always excited to see new digital tools coming our way! 

New to Performance Max or simply want to nerd out about digital marketing? Contact us and let’s get down to business!

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