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Performance Max Campaigns: The Hype vs. Reality

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Constructing an effective ad campaign may well be the difference between a disappointing product launch or a successful marketing initiative, with plenty of platforms, providers and techniques to consider. Though this may be overwhelming at first, nobody said that managing a budget would be easy – though Google’s new Performance Max campaign options are here to try and simplify the process for all involved. 

Promising plenty of engagement, seamless conversions and innovative machine learning processes, advertisers are being encouraged to try out this potentially groundbreaking campaign software, but is it really as fantastic as it seems? Let Bigg take you through the pros, cons and points of significance when considering tailored Google Performance Max campaigns in 2023.

What Are Performance Max Campaigns?

A relatively new addition to Google’s ever-growing pool of online advertising campaign types, Performance Max joins the likes of Display Campaigns, Search Campaigns, Local Campaigns and Smart Campaigns, with each variant appealing to a distinct demographic, merchant type or business goal. 

Performance Max was initially launched to the public in November 2021, following a year of beta testing. Labelled initially as a brand new way to control your ads, Performance Max even works simultaneously with keyword-based search campaigns across all of Google’s channels. From Search, Display, YouTube, Gmail and Discover, a Performance Max initiative promises to advertise across all of these apps and sites, to your specified audience.

Is Performance Max For Me?

Despite the hype and understandable excitement concerning these dynamic and highly-individual campaigns, they certainly won’t be for everyone. In theory, Performance Max Campaigns should be the best option to use for when you have specific advertising and conversion goals in mind, for example, increasing online sales or lead generation. These campaigns may not be as suitable for advertisers looking to target just a couple of Google’s channels however – with video assets, images, copy and more all advised if you’re looking towards YouTube, Display and other Google platforms. 

There’s a reason Google’s other campaign types remain in place as standalone options, and you may want to consider these alternatives if they better-serve the audience or goal you have in mind. We’re results-driven, and look to continually optimise ad campaigns, ensuring maximum conversions, and the very best return on your investment. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more contentious aspects of setting up a Performance Max Campaign.

Lack Of Control

Want to have the final say on targeting and bidding in relation to your campaign? If so, perhaps Performance Max isn’t for you. One of the main criticisms of this campaign type is that they offer advertisers very little control over the targeting and bidding process. This lack of control can lead to wasted ad spend and poor performance if not organised correctly – exactly what you don’t need if you’re on a tight budget and want to make every penny count.

Limited Transparency And Support

If you’re investing a large sum of money into a campaign,  another issue with Performance Max campaigns is the limited transparency into how the system actually works. Advertisers don’t have access to the same level of data and insights as they do with other Google Ads campaigns, making it difficult to optimise performance and alter the campaign specifically. As these campaigns are also still relatively new, and many advertisers have reported that the support from Google is lacking, it can even be difficult for advertisers to troubleshoot issues and optimise their campaigns for success.

Performance Consistency

Despite the promises of better performance, many advertisers have found that Performance Max campaigns actually perform worse than other types of Google Ad campaign. This can be extremely frustrating for marketers who are trying to drive results and justify their ad spend, with the potential for stakeholders to revert to other, more reliable campaigns should performance consistency dwindle. Though there’s certainly the potential for a wider audience to view your product or service through a multi-channel campaign, there may be fewer assurances. 

Assessing Costs

In terms of cost, Performance Max Campaigns can be more expensive than other types of Google Ad campaign, and this is predominantly because the bidding process is automated, therefore advertisers don’t have as much control over how much they’re willing to pay for clicks or conversions. Diversifying a budget and funding a more individualised campaign may offer greater value for money, allowing enhanced flexibility and freedom. 

Achieving a Successful Performance Max Campaign

A successful campaign can be measured by a number of metrics and measurable factors, be it a set figure you’re looking to meet in terms of engagement and conversions, a demographic you’re hoping to tap into or even an increased retention of customers and clients. Google promises that “Performance Max asset reporting can help you understand which creatives are impacting performance”, but is this an organic process? Are there other actions you can take to ensure your campaign prospers? 

Set Clear Goals

Before starting a Performance Max campaign, it’s important to define clear goals and KPIs for what you want to achieve. This will help you measure the success of the campaign and make data-driven decisions to optimise performance. Entering into a campaign without targets in mind is rarely wise, and the results may be unpredictable even with machine learning in play.

Use A Diverse Range Of Assets

As previously mentioned, Performance Max campaigns rely on machine learning algorithms to optimise performance, so it’s important to provide a diverse range of high-quality ad assets, including images, videos, and headlines, for the algorithms to work with. If your campaign isn’t suitable for these different media types and creative placements, perhaps you should consider a different Google Campaign rollout which is better-suited to your needs. 

Optimise Landing Pages

To improve the effectiveness of your Performance Max campaign, it’s important to ensure that your website landing pages are optimised for conversions. Steps you can take to encourage conversions include improving your page load speed and making pages visually interesting with images, videos and graphics. A February 2023 report highlighted that over 60% of website traffic comes from mobile devices, therefore ensuring the landing page in question is mobile-friendly should also be a priority. 

Monitor Performance Closely

Although Performance Max campaigns are largely automated, it is still  important to monitor performance closely to ensure that the algorithms are delivering the expected results. This can include reviewing campaign data regularly, adjusting bidding strategies as needed, and making tweaks to ad assets to improve performance. Keep a close eye on varying monthly metrics, and alter components of the campaign as you go. 

The Final Word

Though Performance Max Campaigns are an interesting idea, with plenty of potential for advertisers to experiment with, we wouldn’t advise placing all of your eggs into one basket just yet. As you’re surely aware, no two campaigns are the same, therefore the somewhat restrictive conditions of Google’s latest offering mean that other, more reliable and long-established campaign types could be more applicable to your conditions – not to mention more cost-effective and consistent.  

Ultimately, at Bigg our paid ads team have many years of experience in creating effective and results-driven campaigns across both Google and Microsoft ad networks, focusing on intent, quality and action to drive growth for our clients. This means that we can cater a campaign to the absolute specifics of what you’re looking to achieve, accounting for much more than budget and intended targets.

Bigg: Work With Google Ads Experts

We understand that many of our clients are new to Performance Max campaigns, therefore it can be helpful to work with Google ads experts  – who retain plenty of valuable experience. This can help you get up to speed quickly, and ensure that you’re getting the most out of your budget. Familiar with the latest trends, developments and significant updates, we use a scientific approach to paid advertising that leverages visitor and conversion data to improve results and increase your profitability month after month. 

Our paid ads team can even help your business reach your segment of the over 80% of users Google’s network has access to. Any queries? Or looking to discuss options with our digital marketing experts? Simply contact us at your earliest convenience!

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