New Year, New Campaign Type - Google Performance Max

Because in data we trust, we gather and share with you all the infos we have about Google’s new campaign - Performance Max.

14 days ago   •   5 min read

By Data Revolt

If there is any Google product update, we are more than excited to test it and because in data we trust, we gather and share with you all the infos we have about Google’s new campaign - Performance Max: what it is, if it brings something new and preliminary data and results from our tests.

What is Google Performance Max?

Going right to the source, Google representatives say that:

As we are already familiar with, new products from Google are designed to maximize the performance using automated bid strategies and machine learning, and Performance Max is no exception.

The key word for this type of campaign is "automation" because the setup is very fast and simple and the optimization of placements and audiences is handled by the Google algorithm, based on the account history.

Google Performance Max - options
Google Performance Max - options

What options do you have with Performance Max?

You can choose from Sales, Leads or Local Store Visits Goals and based on your campaign objective and business particularities you can add the Merchant Center product feed and/or business locations from the account.

As bidding options, you can choose from maximize conversions (with or without target CPA) or maximize conversion value (with or without target ROAS).

You can select the locations for your campaign, languages and also schedule ads, set up start date and end date.

Regarding the campaign URL, you have two options:

  • Let Google decide which pages from your website are the most relevant for your ad and audience, having the option to exclude some unwanted URLs;
  • Choose a specific URL for each asset group you’re creating.

For your campaign audiences, you now have a new section: audience signals that you can choose for each asset group. A best practice here is to select custom audiences and website audiences for Google to use as signals in identifying the best audience for you. You can’t select age or gender, nor exclude them from your campaign, Google will take care of that for you and only show ads to the most relevant demographics.

You can also add specific sitelink extensions for your Performance Max campaign or you can use the ones from account level.

As for the reporting, it is totally missing for now, you can only see general data at campaign level, asset combinations and the basic data from Google Analytics. No information about placements, cost split per placement or asset, results from specific assets or asset groups.

Although somehow similar to Smart Campaign and other smart campaigns from Google, Performance Max brings us some exciting new features.

What new features do we have?

First and the most obvious new feature is that Performance Max allows us to access all the Google placements in one single campaign.

Google Performance Max - new features
Google Performance Max - new features

Although Smart Campaign allows us to access multiple placements (Search, Display, YouTube, Maps), Performance Max is leveling up the game by giving us access to all the Google placements in one campaign, offering us the opportunity to have integrated communication and increasing the chances of reaching potential customers.

Another new thing is the existence of Asset Groups. Because the targeting is automated, you no longer need separate ad groups for your audiences and/or placements, an asset group acting like an ad (is the place where you load your creatives and texts).

You can have multiple asset groups in one campaign giving you the opportunity to organize the creatives on different themes, products or services which you want to advertise separately in the same campaign. Be careful with the headlines because Google will combine all the text variants in search ads for creating the 3 headlines so you must pay attention to the relevance.

The implementation is very similar to a responsive ad, so you can upload:

  • Up to 15 images;
  • 5 logos;
  • 5 videos (with YouTube Links);
  • 5 headlines of 30 characters;
  • 5 long headlines of 90 characters;
  • One short description of 60 characters;
  • Up to 4 descriptions of 90 characters;
  • One call to action from a predefined list (with an “automated” option);
  • Business name (it will automated be taken from Merchant Center if you also select a feed for your campaign);
  • One HTML5 ad.

Another new feature is the Audience Signals. Although we are familiar with optimized audiences from Smart Display campaigns for example, in Performance Max we have the option to influence the audience optimization by giving the algorithm a starting point. It is recommended to use custom audiences and/or website audiences that you consider being the most relevant for your asset group so that Google can find better matches of users starting from the ones in the given audiences.

How efficient is Performance Max?

We tested this new campaign and the results were quite surprising for e-commerce although Performance Max was at first created for the lead generation goal.

Comparing the same promotion, on the same time period and also having Search, Display, Shopping and Video campaigns versus Performance Max, the results were:

  • Difference in Cost                                                  -75.2%
  • Difference in CPC                                                   -72.3%
  • Difference in Transactions                                +149.5%
  • Difference in Revenue                                        +113.8%
  • Difference in Conversion Rate                         +311.3%
  • Difference in Cost/Revenue                                  -88.4%
  • Difference in ROAS                                              +762.2%

* Segment - Retail

Also for e-commerce, we tested the promotion of products from specific categories in Shopping versus Performance Max, and the results were:

  • Difference in Cost                                                        -37.1%
  • Difference in CPC                                                         -33.3%
  • Difference in Transactions                                         -30.2%
  • Difference in Revenue                                                 -29.4%
  • Difference in Conversion Rate                                  -41.7%
  • Difference in Cost/Revenue                                       -10.8%
  • Difference in ROAS                                                     +12.3%

* Segment - Auto

Another test we run was for a promotion with campaigns in Shopping, Display, Discovery, Video versus Performance Max, the results being:

  • Difference in Cost                                                        -81.1%
  • Difference in CPC                                                         -57.4%
  • Difference in Transactions                                         +100%
  • Difference in Revenue                                                +11.9%
  • Difference in Conversion Rate                                  +756%
  • Difference in Cost/Revenue                                        -83.1%
  • Difference in ROAS                                                   +492.4%

* Segment - Cosmetics

As a first conclusion, if you have a promotional message and the mix of channels is diverse, Performance Max can bring a performance boost.

If instead you choose to promote specific products, in a business as usual context, the mix of placements offered by Performance Max does not help to improve performance, it even brings poor results.

You can draw your own conclusions from the above data and we encourage you to test and see if Performance Max is the right campaign type for your business needs and goals.

Conclusions

Performance Max is a campaign with high potential that deserves our attention and about which we certainly have much to learn and discover.

The sooner we test and learn, the better it will be for our accounts performance because Google announces that in 2022 Smart Shopping and Local Campaigns will upgrade to Performance Max, without giving an official date for this change.

Thus, it seems that Performance Max is the future of Google's smart campaigns, coming up with new features and options through which machine learning helps us achieve our campaign goals and increase our account performance.

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