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Early this month a new player joined the Google Ads campaign line-up: Performance Max. Google states beta testing of this ad type was immensely successful, hence now all advertisers around the world can take advantage of the new tech in their panels. But what exactly is Performance Max and is it worth using? Here’s some key info about the newest addition to Google Ads.
What Is Performance Max?
Performance Max is a new type of Google Ads campaign based on self-learning algorithms. It’s not a complete novelty in the Google Ads environment. Users of this system are familiar with other types of campaigns in which ads are optimized automatically, and the tool itself adjusts rates or mixes uploaded ad elements, such as banners, texts and logos, to find the most effective combinations. We know this model of operation from such formats as Smart Shopping campaigns or responsive ads in the search network, among others. However, Performance Max goes a step further – it provides optimization of ads across multiple channels within a single campaign. This new feature is designed to complement keyword-based search network campaigns, but provides access to all of Google’s advertising inventory from one place.
What does this mean in practice? Using Performance Max, we create a single campaign, and with it we can display ads in all the places supported by Google Ads, that is in the search network, display network, YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps or Discover tabs. Selection of the best resources for our ads is done automatically in real time, based on data collected 24/7 by an algorithm.
How does a Performance Max Campaign Work?
Performance Max campaigns are based on marketing objectives that we define in the first steps of creating ads. So we can determine at the very beginning if the campaign goal is to be, for example, the target cost per action (CPA), or if we prefer to focus on the target ROAS. The wizard will also ask us to add relevant materials and define basic settings. At this stage we should specify the preferred duration of the campaign (minimum 4 weeks) and specify the budget, geographic reach of the ads and the audience. In addition, we must also provide the system with:
- headlines and descriptions for text and display ads,
- graphics for Discover and Display ads, and on YouTube,
- company logos,
- videos for YouTube InStream ads,
- product feed from Google Merchant Center.
When we launch a Performance Max campaign, the system takes into account data from all advertising resources, analyses user behaviour in a given moment and on this basis optimises rates and buys places for our company’s ads. It works in real time, so it provides us with the best results across all channels at any given time.
Audience Signals – A New Method of Target Group Selection
With the introduction of Performance Max there is also a new method of finding the most valuable recipients for given advertising creations – Audience Signals. This method of determining the target group is a combination of automatic Google targeting with our knowledge of brand clients. Within Audience Signals, we can determine the group that is most relevant to our business and, in our opinion, gives the greatest chance for conversion. However, the system can extend the reach beyond this defined group if it predicts that this could increase the returns from the campaign. This solution is to shorten the learning time for the algorithms and thus improve the results of the campaign.
Performance Max vs. Other Types of Campaigns
But why did Performance Max appear at all, when you could run all these formats as separate campaigns? It’s Google Ads’ answer to the constant changes in customer behavior and their purchase paths. Today, 70% of consumers are more likely to buy online than in the pre-pandemic era. But at the same time, their path to conversion is changing faster and faster, and it’s hard to predict on the fly what it will look like in the future. In addition, the path to conversion often lengthens dramatically – Google reports that in some cases there are up to 500 points of contact between a user and ads before a conversion occurs. In such a dynamic reality, only a well-designed algorithm that learns consumer behavior can help analyze data and optimize campaigns. If, within a single campaign, it can analyze the effectiveness of all the channels in which ads are aired, it has enough data to more accurately predict what rates, ad placements, etc. will be the best choice at any given time.
Will this be the case in reality? Time will tell. At the moment, this format is still underutilized and some time needs to pass before we can say anything definite about the Google novelty. Certainly this type of campaign has potential for companies that have a large advertising budget and run many different formats at the same time. Currently, on the Google website we can read that the beta tests for Performance Max turned out promising, and advertisers who use this campaign observe an average increase in the number of conversions at the level of 13% with a similar budget as in the case of separate campaigns for individual formats. That’s why Performance Max is a novelty worth keeping an eye on and which, in the future, may become one of the most popular solutions for companies with big budgets.