Google Performance Max, which launched in 2021, is a powerful tool for advertisers to maximise their online presence and drive results across a broader range of Google’s inventory in multi-format campaigns. 

However, many advertisers are still unsure of how and when to utilise PMax to their advantage. Here, we’ll explain how PMax campaigns work and see if this is the right strategy for your business. 

How Performance Max works

Google Performance Max campaigns launched in November 2021, initially as a replacement to the Smart Shopping campaigns. Since then, Google has made a lot of improvements, bringing PMax to the forefront of paid media strategies for B2B as well as B2C. 

Performance Max, or ‘PMax’, utilises advanced machine learning algorithms to optimise your advertising campaigns across multiple Google properties, including Search, Display, YouTube, and Discover. The three key components of PMax include automated bidding, smart creatives, and advanced audience targeting.

  1. Automated bidding ensures that your budget is allocated efficiently to achieve your desired campaign objectives, whether it’s maximising conversions, driving website traffic, or increasing brand awareness. 
  2. Smart creatives leverage machine learning to deliver personalised ad experiences to your target audience, increasing engagement and driving results. 
  3. Advanced audience targeting allows you to reach the right users with tailored messaging based on their demographics, interests, and behaviours.

Choosing the right strategy

Before diving in, it’s crucial to understand the benefits of running PMax in more detail. Data input is crucial in making such decisions and a one-size-fits-all strategy doesn’t automatically result in long-term business growth. 

Aside from automated optimisation (automated bidding, smart creatives and audience targeting), we have identified two other huge benefits of PMax, for businesses looking to maximise their online advertising efforts.

  1. Cross-platform reach: Allows businesses to connect with users at various touch points throughout their online journey, increasing visibility and engagement.
  2. Scalability: Performance Max campaigns are scalable to fit your needs, whether you are a small business or a large enterprise. You can start with a modest budget and scale up as your business grows, leveraging the power of automation to drive results at any scale.

If you’re looking to get started with Performance Max, the first thing you need to do is to clearly define your campaign objectives. Whether it’s increasing website traffic, generating leads, or driving sales, having specific goals is essential, as it will guide your campaign structure and measurement.

After establishing your objectives, it’s time to choose the right bidding strategy. PMax offers various bidding strategies, including Maximise Conversions, Target CPA (Cost Per Acquisition), and Target ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) so that you can select the bidding strategy that aligns with your campaign goals and budget.

Building a strong campaign structure

A strong campaign structure is essential for maximising the performance of your PMax campaigns. But the structure will highly depend on your overall objectives and of course, the type of your business (B2B or B2C). Although, as we mentioned earlier, there is no one size strategy that applies to all businesses, there are some steps you can take to get started.

PMax was originally launched as a new type to replace Shopping campaigns, so for the first few years, PMax campaigns were utilised mainly by ecommerce companies, trying to showcase their products in Google Shopping and other channels. 

Although B2B and B2C companies have different objectives, we could start by building a PMax campaign with a similar structure, which we can then tailor based on performance data and specific needs. To begin with, start by organising your products into logical groupings based on your advertising objectives, target audience, and messaging.

Within each campaign, you’ll need to create asset groups to further segment your audience or product and tailor your messaging. Asset groups allow you to group similar keywords, audiences, or creatives together to ensure relevance and coherence in your ads.

When setting up your ads, leverage Google’s ad formats and creative assets to create compelling and engaging ad experiences. Test different ad formats, visuals, and messaging to identify what resonates best with your audience and drives the desired actions.

B2C PMax structure ideas

    1. Bestsellers – Push more budget into products that are high converters
    2. New products – Promote new products that may not have had previous exposure
    3. Products on sale – Whether you have designated budget for promotions or not, this is a great way to segment your new products that are on sale with tailored promotional messaging
    4. Seasonal products – Winter and Summer products don’t sell the same throughout the year. Take that into consideration and split your products, so that message and audiences are tailored to what you are trying to sell
    5. Low impression products – When many products are in the same group, the high impression products tend to capitalise all the budget, leaving nothing for the rest
    6. Single-product campaign – This is a good strategy if you have a new product that you are launching or a product for which you have limited historical performance data
    7. Products with high/low stock volumes – If you want to push products with high stock volumes, consider separating them from the rest and improve sales by tailored messaging and different CPA targets

B2B PMax Structure Ideas

For a B2B business, PMax campaigns are usually used for lead generation and the main reasons for segmenting your products/services into different PMax campaigns is to allocate different budgets, work with different CPA targets and optimise for different goals.

  1. Products/Services with poor performance – Having low performing products into separate campaign will allow you to improve performance, without high performing products stealing all the budget
  2. PMax with only video/image assets – Consider splitting your assets into different campaigns to see how campaigns with only static images will perform against video assets
  3. Products/Services with geographical restriction – If you have specific locations that you want to target, create different campaigns for each location so that you can tailor the message accordingly
  4. PMax for Brand – Brand terms usually take most of the budget, so consider having one PMax campaign only for Branded terms
  5. PMax for non-brand – Similar to the above, having a PMax campaign only for non-branded terms, can allow you to spend efficiently without brand terms using all the budget and skewing your data
  6. Targeting users at different stages of the funnel – Remarketing, in-market, affinity, custom intent audiences etc.

Optimising your campaigns

Continuous monitoring and optimisation are the key to success with Performance Max. Take advantage of Google’s reporting tools to track campaign performance metrics such as impressions, clicks, conversions and ROAS. Identify trends, insights, and areas for improvement, and make data-driven adjustments to optimise your campaigns further. 

Use the table view in the asset groups to compare results by asset group and make informed decisions. Also, make sure to analyse asset performance and replace any poor performing copy/creatives with new ones so that you can maximise exposure and increase CTR.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and iterate with your Performance Max campaigns. Test different strategies, audiences, creatives, and bidding strategies to find what works best for your business. Learn from your results and iterate accordingly to continually improve your campaign performance.

Challenges with PMax

Performance Max isn’t for everyone – be aware that there are limitations when it comes to control and performance fluctuations. While automation can be a time-saving feature, it also means relinquishing some level of control over campaign management. Users may find it challenging to trust the algorithm to make the right decisions regarding bidding, budget allocation, and targeting, especially when reporting is limited and there are no reports allowing you to dive deeper into placement/network performance.

Due to the campaigns relying heavily on machine learning, performance may fluctuate over time as the algorithm adapts to changing conditions and user behaviour. This can make it difficult to predict and maintain consistent results.

Getting started with Google Performance Max may seem daunting at first, but with the right approach and strategy, you can unlock its full potential to drive results for your business. By understanding its capabilities, setting clear objectives, targeting the right audience, optimising creatives, allocating budget effectively, and continuously monitoring and iterating, you can create impactful advertising campaigns that reach your target audience and achieve your marketing objectives. Embrace the power of PMax and take your online advertising to the next level.

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