Performance Max first hit the digital marketing newswire nearly a year ago when the Search Engine Journal talked about the features and potential uses in its article, Everything We Know About Google’s Performance Max CampaignsArticle author Amy Bishop wrote, “The primary difference between Performance Max and other campaigns is that Google automates the targeting and delivery of the campaign based upon the information that the advertiser provides,” Bishop wrote. “Performance Max is an automated campaign type, reminiscent of (but still slightly different than) a Smart campaign.”

Utilizing Google’s existing inventory of ad placements, the campaign isn’t so much a novel approach to getting ads in front of potential clients as it is a potentially more straightforward way of streamlining advertising across multiple Google channels.

A more detailed overview of Performance Max from Google describes the purpose of Performance Max as leveraging the entirety of the Google Network (Google Network, Display Network, and Search Network) across all of Google’s Channels (YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps). There is also the “Local” channel, which should not be confused with “Local Service Ads.” These are entirely different advertising platforms.  

Taking a Deeper Dive into Performance Max

Performance Max was created for both products and services, so it should be noted that there is no emphasis on specific services, let alone professional services. So this “catch-all” approach to the platform should be strongly considered when words like “game-changing” are thrown around for Performance Max’s potential. In addition, all of these marketing channels have existed for quite some time, so they could have been utilized (and you may very well have been utilizing some or all of them already), albeit individually.

There’s nothing sexy about advertising on Gmail or Display. These massive CPM campaigns have been around for years; You probably won’t get a great client by sneaking a textual ad on Gmail alongside supplement spam emails. YouTube will require video. And Search/Maps is covered by your Google Ads, which you do NOT want to have a set it and forget it mindset for with “Smart Bidding.” Think of the disaster Google Ads Express is for lawyers.

The Pros

Though these are all the cons, what are some of the potential pros associated with these campaigns besides ease of use (and burning through your budget via Google’s sophisticatedly insatiable appetite for high marketing budgets)? 

Google doesn’t have an excellent track record for budget optimization, and I wouldn’t be so quick to rely on their ability to find your ideal “audience,” so these campaigns can and should be hands-on. There is a continual discussion regarding these Performance Max articles about Creative Assets, Audience Signals, and Optional Data feeds that may make these campaigns perform well. In fact, I’d say that’s probably the only way they’d perform well.

Because there are textual, creative, and video components, you’ll provide plenty of marketing assets to Google to make this work. According to this article published by Boss Digital about why Google Ads Performance Max campaigns are a law firm’s new best friend, you’ll want to be prepared to have at least the following when it comes to Creative Assets:

  • 20 Images
  • 5 Logos
  • 5 Videos
  • Headlines and descriptions

Because this platform is about taking advantage of every platform, every asset should be included or created if they don’t exist.

Audience Signals

The following article in the digital marketing and advertising news outlet, Search Engine Land (SEJ), states that audience signals can be used to jumpstart your campaign. I don’t know about you, but I still don’t understand what they mean by audience signals as far as how it ties into these campaigns. In another article, first-party audiences via a remarketing list would be a great audience signal, which does make sense and could be helpful if you’ve been doing remarketing. If not, taking a crack at Google Audiences and creating custom audiences would have to be your next option.

Optional Data Feeds

When it comes to these campaigns, the more hands-on you are with providing data that Google can use to make your campaign work sooner than later, the better. There is no sense in leaving everything in their hands with the amount of money that goes into this on the line.

Again on SEJ, we can see the pitfalls of this campaign regarding “what kinds of data do I need to provide, even if I could?” 

GMB feeds—an exciting concept—are accessible if you have GMB(s), so that’s a start. Google Merchant Center isn’t applicable because it is product-oriented. Dynamic Ads feed and Business Data Feeds seem vague. Still, the top-level expectations across the board would be that conversions, in general, are at a lower cost because “usable inventory,” a.k.a. space for ads on the aforementioned Google channels would insert your ads when other companies aren’t actively bidding and/or spending money on specific channels. This, coupled with the potential of search or keyword-driven display would suggest that Google will serve these ads to the appropriate parties.

Because we know that PPC is only triggered when someone searches the terms you provide—and PPC is blighted by low-quality leads relative to organic and other paid advertising—it’d be likely that you could receive cheaper leads. However, I’d be very skeptical about the value.  

What Does It All Mean?

Being that the individual platforms under the Performance Max umbrella have already existed, it’s safe to say that the sense of urgency isn’t quite there. After all, if you’ve been advertising on YouTube, Display, Discover etc. already, everything here has already been available. It seems now that there are additional “layers” of management and automation that Google offers as far as “AI” and some of the other options mentioned such as data feeds and audiences, you’ll undoubtedly have to have these available in advance to take advantage of them. Otherwise, you’re at the mercy of Google doing its typical machine learning for 2-3 months and spending some dough in the meantime.

Either way, if you’ve been interested in expanding your visibility further as an initiative to 2022 and have already allocated a sound budget for your Google Ads and LSAs, then giving this a shot and being patient for a business quarter may be worth your time.