When Google first launched Performance Max campaigns in 2021, “PMax” was the big buzzword among paid media experts.
Initially, what we knew was simple: Performance Max was designed to leverage Google’s extensive network, delivering campaigns across all its products from YouTube and Google Search to Display, Discover, Gmail and Maps. But when we came to launch and optimise Pmax campaigns, we realised we knew so little about it.
Fast forward to now and the landscape has dramatically changed. Performance Max has evolved and so has our understanding of it.
Thanks to insights shared by Google and the collective experience of the digital marketing community, we now have a clearer outlook on how to manage Performance Max campaigns and harness their full potential.
Let’s delve into 10 tips, backed-up by Google, that provide you with actionable insights for optimising your Performance Max campaigns.
1. Define your conversion goals
This may sound very basic to any PPC specialist, but setting clear conversion goals is essential to improving the performance of a Performance Max campaign. The goals you set out will guide your campaign and enable Performance Max’s machine learning models to understand exactly what you want to achieve and optimise for these goals.
You can optimise your campaign for different goals and assign values to each goal in order to determine how important each one is.
2. Implement enhanced conversions
Performance Max campaigns rely heavily on Google’s machine learning to optimise ad delivery across various channels and inventories. With enhanced conversion data, these algorithms can better understand which ads are performing best, hence optimising your ad spend more efficiently.
Enhanced conversions also help to track user actions across different devices and browsers – this is especially important in Performance Max campaigns as they target users across a wide range of Google’s networks and devices.
In combination with consent mode, enhanced conversions can model and estimate conversions that might otherwise be lost due to users not granting consent for cookies.
3. Add conversion value rules
Conversion value rules allow you to adjust your conversion value reporting and smart bidding optimisation based on specific criteria, such as geographical location, device, and audiences in real time.
So for example, if your desktop conversion rate is higher than mobile conversion rate for your business, you can set up a conversion value multiplier of x2 for desktop placement, this means you’re campaign will be informing Google to bid twice as much when someone searches for your site on a laptop, because you know the user is much more likely to convert.
4. Choose budget and bidding efficiently
Setting up the right bidding strategy and budgets will help your campaigns capture the most valuable opportunities for achieving your goals.
For Performance Max, the most common bid strategies used are ‘Maximise conversions using target CPA’, where Google will enter bids on your behalf, in order to get you the highest number of conversions at a target CPA, or ‘maximise conversion value using target ROAS’, where Google will enter bids on your behalf, in order to get you the highest return in ad spend.
In fact, while building your campaign, Google will give you a recommendation about which bidding strategy it thinks will work best based on your account’s data.
5. Optimise your assets
Assets are all types of media used in your campaign which can be anything from videos and images to texts and extensions. They are tools for tailoring your message to your users and building your offering.
Some advertisers would even go as far to say that the quality of your assets is the prime factor influencing the success of your Performance Max campaign.
Asset quality is certainly directly related to the success of your campaign and is key to connecting with your audiences and encouraging engagement. Check your ad strength to identify assets that need updating and use asset and audience insights to inform your creative strategy.
Tip: advertisers that included at least one video of each orientation (horizontal, vertical and square) to their Performance Max campaigns delivered 20% more conversions in YouTube compared to advertisers who used horizontal videos alone.
6. Exclude your brand terms
Brand exclusions are mainly recommended for budget efficiency purposes. By excluding branded terms, you ensure that your budget is primarily spent on acquiring new traffic rather than targeting users who are already familiar with your brand.
In the new Google interface, excluding brand terms is part of the campaign building process.
Note that brand list exclusions are not keyword exclusions so you don’t have to enter misspellings, variants, or versions in multiple languages.
7. Use placement exclusions
While we still can’t add campaign level exclusions, Performance Max does respect account level placement exclusions such as display ad placements and YouTube channel placements.
Remember to exclude low quality placements such as gaming apps for Display Network or kids YouTube channels.
8. Leverage audience signals
Audience signals enable you to highlight to Performance Max which audiences you know are most likely to perform well against your goals, so you can speed up the learning process of your campaign.
It’s good to know that audience targeting isn’t a hard limit in Performance Max; the campaign will still enter auctions beyond the audience signals you provide.
It’s best practice to provide first party audience data as well as custom segments to help the system identify your desired audience profile faster, and to help jumpstart Google’s machine learning algorithms.
Add audience-based value rules:
As we mentioned in tip 3, if you have unique insight into which audience segments are of higher value to your business, you can use conversion value rules to target specific audiences and steer automated bidding towards the customers that you value most.
Leverage new customer acquisition bids
If your goal is to acquire new customers to your business, Google now allows you to adjust your bids to find new customers in two different ways; you can either optimise to bid only on new customers, or optimise to bid more on new customers compared to old customers. For this bid adjustment, Google will take into consideration the customer lifetime value and your average order value to suggest a bid adjustment.
9. Adjust location targeting
By default, location targeting includes both physical locations and locations of interest. However, post campaign construction, in your campaign settings under “location options” you’ll find the ability to target based on “presence” or “presence and interest”.
Tip: location targeting isn’t recommended in campaigns that are optimising to store goals.
10. Benefit from seasonality adjustments and data exclusions
Both seasonality adjustments and data exclusions help maintain the accuracy of your data. Seasonality adjustments are useful for adjusting your Performance Max bidding when you’re anticipating upcoming changes in conversion rates due to events like sales or promotions. These are best used for brief durations, typically from one to seven days.
Data exclusions, on the other hand, allow smart bidding to disregard data from specific dates that might have unreliable conversion tracking due to issues like website downtime, bugs, or tagging problems.
Campaign management isn’t a one-size fits all solution
While the 10 tips we’ve covered are the most common best practices for optimising your Performance Max campaigns, it’s important to remember that when it comes to campaign management, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Tests and experiments will be key to finding what works best for your brand and audience.
If you’re looking for support with your Paid advertising efforts, reach out to us for personalised guidance and Paid Media management.