Performance Max: What Is It & How Can It Help You Increase Sales in 2022?
Did you ever think it would be great for the same ads to appear across Google, YouTube, Gmail and Maps?
It may have crept under your radar but, last year, Google released a powerful new ad campaign offering called Performance Max that allows you to do just that — and more.
“Performance Max” may sound like a new line of prophylactics but, in fact, it represents a new way to buy Google ads that automatically appear not only in Google Search but across YouTube, Display, Discover, Gmail and Maps — all from a single campaign.
Google claims that these ads “complement your keyword-based Search campaigns to help you grow performance across Google’s full range of advertising channels and inventory.”
After successfully testing the beta version last year, ecommerce businesses can now tap into this new source of potential revenue as Performance Max campaigns are now available to all advertisers around the world.
So, let’s learn a little more about how these new campaigns work, how they compare with previous campaign offerings, and how they can help you increase leads and conversions in the year(s) ahead.
Why has Google introduced Performance Max?
Shoppers buy products after seeing them on multiple channels — the shopping experience doesn’t always start with Google Search.
For instance, two billion people around the world use YouTube. In February 2020, 70 percent of U.S. shoppers reported buying from a brand after seeing it on YouTube.
Google has introduced Performance Max because of the multiple channels through which people are influenced to buy products now. It is an automated goal-based campaign type that allows ads to “go” where the shoppers are using machine learning to place relevant ads in front of targeted audiences.
It has likely been influenced by social ad platforms like Facebook, which run highly targeted ads with dynamic ad formats.
With Google Ads appearing across Search, YouTube, Display, Discover, Gmail and Maps, advertisers can seamlessly expand their reach to all these platforms without having to do any of the heavy lifting — ads are automated and optimized for each platform.
How do advertisers benefit?
Every advertiser wants to improve the efficiency and profitability of its advertising. More ads in front of more of your target audience should lead to better results, right?
That’s fairly simple to understand, but the benefits of Performance Max can be broken down into four key areas:
1. Increase the number of leads and conversions
The proof is in the pudding, as they say.
- Insurance company Allianz Spain used Performance Max campaigns to increase qualified car insurance leads by 15 percent at a lower cost-per-lead compared to generic Search campaigns.
- Google also cites a case study from MoneyMe, in which a 22 percent increase in conversions was achieved.
- It also increased qualified leads by 24 percent for MotorK, which is an automotive sales and marketing technology company.
2. More efficient ad spend
The efficiency of Performance Max and its machine learning/automation tools result in an increase in the number of targeted leads and conversions without negatively impacting your spend.
Google’s AI/machine learning capabilities lead to new understandings of user intent, behaviour and context so that the right ads show up at the right moments to the right people.
Beta users have reported a cost-per-lead of more than 20 percent less than non-branded search campaigns.
3. Save time and resources
Finding new customers and increasing conversions/leads usually involves investing considerable time and money into new and smarter campaigns or hiring new expertise for your team.
The automation tools inbuilt into Performance Max enable this without doing either. You provide the information once to Google and it will automate the process of creating relevant, targeted ads that reach the right people on multiple platforms at the right time.
4. Deeper insight about your campaigns
Performance Max campaigns are included on the Google Ads Insights page.
This helps you analyze the performance and make adjustments to improve your campaigns.
How do you set up Performance Max campaigns?
With Performance Max campaigns, like with traditional Google Ads campaigns, you choose the objectives and the conversion goals that support these objectives and remain in control of how you achieve them.
Unoptimized, untargeted and poorly thought-out pay-per-click campaigns can quickly result in ad spend spiraling out of control unless you manage it carefully and proactively. With Performance Max, this is less likely to occur.
Regardless, consider hiring some campaign expertise so that you optimize your Performance Max campaigns across all of the relevant platforms.
Google believes you will get the best bang for your buck by using the same goals for all of your ad campaigns, including Performance Max.
So, you can set a consistent account-level goal: online sales, lead generation, or offline sales.
You’ll need to set a budget and a bidding strategy, which includes max conversions and maximum value but you can also set a maximum CPA or a target value/conversion.
This allows you to employ target CPA and target ROAS (return on advertising spend) strategies, where you can specify the target average conversion value (for example, revenue) for each dollar you spend on your ads.
Location and language settings
Performance Max is not presently supported by Google Ads editor so the location targeting is a little laborious — but this should improve over time.
Once you select “enter another location”, it will expand to include a blank space and an “advanced search” link, which you can click to view bulk import locations. Then you can select languages and campaign scheduling options.
Advanced URL options
The advanced URL options mean that you can send traffic to the specific URLs of landing pages you provide or you can let Google decide, based on customer intent.
If you want to do the latter, select ON for the option Send traffic to the most relevant URLs on your site (you can exclude specific URLs) like this:
Another option is to allow Google to decide but exclude certain URLs.
Setting up your ads
Google calls your ads “asset groups” on Performance Max because setting up an ad on one platform is seen as an asset to all platforms (YouTube, Display, Maps, Gmail, etc.). You’ll just need to get used to the terminology.
You can set up multiple “asset groups” and the process is similar to setting up a responsive display ad.
Setting up automated targeting
There are no “ad groups” with Performance Max. Each ad campaign has one set of targeting only and you can help optimize Google targeting of the right audiences by providing “audience signals”.
Based on the details provided, Google will target audiences with similar behaviors and interests.
Like with traditional Google Ads, ad extensions help differentiate your ads, make it easy for potential customers to contact you, and increase conversions, using call extensions, contact forms, structured snippets, price extensions, etc.
You can use existing account-level sitelink extensions or create specific sitelinks for your Performance Max campaigns.
Reporting: an acknowledged downside of Performance Max…
Google has committed to improving its reporting features for Performance Max campaigns. Currently, it is limited to reports on:
- Top-level campaign performance
- Location performance
- Performance by hour-of-day, day-of-week, and day/hour combined
This is much like other ad campaigns. Where performance Max fails so far, though, is in breaking this down further to provide more “granular” detail, such as:
- Performance by asset group
- Targeting and audience reporting – who actually saw your ad?
- Keyword reporting
- Device performance
Who’s it for?
Google’s Performance Max is worth considering if you have identified the following objectives for your ecommerce business:
- Specific advertising/conversion goals, e.g., increasing online sales or lead generation
- Maximizing the performance of campaigns with ads appearing across multiple channels
- Reaching multiple audiences across all Google channels through a single campaign
- Additional reach and value beyond keyword-based search campaigns
What about your other search campaigns?
Performance Max can run concurrently with your other ad campaigns, e.g., keyword search campaigns. Don’t stop anything that’s currently working for you.
After a while, you can compare results and see which one produces the best ROI.
Max your way to more leads and sales…
How can you say “no” to a 13 percent increase in total conversions at a similar cost-per-action?
That’s what you can expect from using Google’s Performance Max, according to the tests run last year (Google Data, Global, Ads, July – September 2021).
There’s little doubt that Performance Max can improve your advertising strategy. Get used to it as it looks like it’s here to stay. New features will be added this year for businesses with brick-and-mortar stores as well as online stores.
Its automation and machine learning capabilities are also being introduced to Google’s Smart Shopping and local campaigns, which are both slated to upgrade to Performance Max in 2022.
Try it and see how you go — we’d love to hear how you get on and, if you need any help, feel free to reach out to us.