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Performance Max Campaigns – The future of ads?

by Pooja Jha | 13.07.2022

For some purchases, buyers have 500+ digital touchpoints & it is getting more and more challenging to keep up. According to Google, Performance Max campaigns aim to best use automation to maximise capturing this demand through Google ads. But does it live up to its hype?

Here at Tug, we started experimenting with Performance Max in mid-March 2022, as a potential solution for reduced conversion volumes for a B2B client. With “lead generation” as the objective, we ensured that “good” asset group ratings were maintained through high-quality images and videos while pairing them with relevant text (Performance Max setup requirements). Given the limited amount of information & control this campaign type typically provides, we started by focusing on specific markets & clients. But it wasn’t long before we started seeing some great results. A month into the setup, we saw a 37% increase in conversions at a similar cost per conversion (CPA). As of June, this campaign has delivered as many conversions as all our search campaigns combined, essentially a 94% increase in conversions at a similar CPA.

Stumbling Blocks

However, Performance Max campaigns are not without faults. With final URL expansion turned on, Performance Max campaigns can operate similarly to a DSA campaign & pick up site pages it deems best to cater to a search query. While doing so, it can also pick up web pages around features and discounts that may no longer be active & show headlines for expired discount offers which can be problematic for the client. A solution for this could be to add such pages to “Excluded URLs”, however, if your client’s business requires them to create new pages on a regular basis, limiting URLs by providing a page feed would be the way to go. One thing to bear in mind, if actioned on a live campaign this change could lead to a second learning period, potentially impacting performance for a short time.  

Lead quality is another common challenge facing conversions achieved through this campaign type. Bad quality conversions could lead to wasteful time & spend from the clients’ marketing team,  which is why it is essential to regularly monitor the viability of these leads with the help of client feedback. There is a solution, based on setting up qualifying questions through lead forms, but barring that this still remains a largely unresolved issue.

Another thing to be aware of is Performance Max’s integration with SA360, which came into effect in June 2022. It’s definitely worth reviewing your reporting & budget tracking to make sure the spend and conversions line up correctly between platforms, as the integration was not backdated. Once fully integrated this, in our opinion, is a promising sign as it would help monitor & optimise all performance data in one place.

The Way Ahead

Our overall experience seems to suggest that Performance Max does have more pros than cons. It is encouraging to see new features being rolled out that target campaigns with better precision. With Performance Max, we can now:

·         Use “Placement Reports” to see where the ads are being served to our customers

·         Use the “Audience Insights” section to assess how our audience signals are performing, while also finding the new audience categories via machine learning

·         Utilise “Index Multiples” to build more targeted asset groups & get a better bang for our buck

·         Focus on “New Customer Acquisition” by building campaigns around this objective & utilising first-party data to make the most of this offering

With all these new levers & controls, Performance Max is a tool full of promise at this point & we recommend testing as an addition to your existing search strategy.