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What Is Google Performance Max?

By Danni Winter

August 17, 2022

google performance max

Automation has come a long way in a very short time. Take, for instance, the newest arrow in Google’s proverbial quiver: Performance Max. Designed for those short on time but long on expected results, this goal-based campaign type allows paid media marketers to access all their Google Ads inventory from a single campaign. What’s more, it enables advertisers to save time on campaign creation by actually creating and optimizing campaigns through automation. 

Take a second to digest that information, because, for some, it could signal a sea-change in the way ad campaigns are created, optimized and tracked for effectiveness. 

Ok, got it? Good. Let’s first look at how Google’s newest tool works, who it does and does not work well for and take a step back to analyze whether it’s right for your next campaign. 

google performance max ads

How Performance Max Google Ads Work

Utilizing automation technologies meant to improve your budget optimization, bidding and other key details, Google says it can take your specific advertising objective, audience signals and creative assets, mash them up in its turbo-charged Google blender and output an ad campaign that converts. Google says its software helps drive performance based on conversion goals you supply it with, meaning you could see higher conversions and value from its use of real-time performance optimization across channels with Smart Bidding. 

A quick history lesson: before Performance Max was launched, the only way to reach customers was to manually create a campaign in each channel. Tedious and time-consuming, each platform needed a specific campaign. So, if you wanted to reach more customers on YouTube, you created a video campaign. If you wanted customers to find you via search, you created a search campaign. Performance Max aims to make these separate efforts a thing of the past. With this campaign type, you need only provide the assets of your ads and the program will pack it all neatly into one campaign. Performance Max takes your high-quality text, images and videos and calculates which types of conversions are most valuable to your business. 

Who Should Use Google Performance Max? 

As you can imagine, automated campaign creation is not for everyone. It is, however, excellent for marketers meeting the following requirements: 

  • Those with specific advertising and conversion goals (for example, driving online sales, lead generation and others)
  • Businesses looking to maximize the performance of their campaign and those who aren’t limited by which channel the ads appear on
  • Those who want to easily access all of Google’s advertising channels using a single campaign
  • Anyone wanting to get additional reach and conversion value beyond keyword-based Search campaigns

Put succinctly, Performance Max works great for smaller businesses looking to set up a simple Google campaign to evaluate whether it is a good fit for their business goals. It is not, however, the best option for retailers who are in need of greater control on campaigns or who want to fully optimize their advertising. Note that Performance Max also doesn’t offer those retailers who are already established the same chances for growth as other campaign management options do. 

For those using Google Smart Shopping, existing campaigns will be automatically converted to Performance Max campaigns in September 2022. A caveat, though: there are cost considerations. Anyone using Performance Max should be prepared to spend at least $50-100 a day for at least a month in order to generate enough data and learning for the format to work properly. 


Let’s look at how Google’s Performance Max campaign tool might help your business. Performance Max promises to: 

  • Unlock new audiences across Google’s channels and networks
  • Drive better goal performance
  • Get more transparent insights
  • Steer automation with campaign inputs you provide
  • Simplify campaign management and easily optimize your ads
  • Use Google’s real-time data on shopper intent and preferences to help discover new audience segments you might’ve been unaware of, thus helping you get your ads out to more interested shoppers
  • Create assets that best suit your audience of shoppers, helping you take control of your ad campaigns


As for what Google Performance Max doesn’t do, here’s a little food for thought before you commit to an automated campaign: 

Much like Smart Shopping campaigns, Performance Max operates as a “black box.” While you get results on top-performing audiences, you don’t receive all the data that could be used to reach conclusive results to accurately inform campaign optimization.

Granted, the ability to have single-campaign optimization across all Google advertising channels is definitely a plus, but you gain almost no visibility on channel-specific performance and how the assets you provide are utilized. This makes it difficult to enact meaningful change to your campaigns or see how each channel is performing.

Also, because there is no channel-specific performance for advertisers, you can’t be sure that your campaigns aren’t cannibalizing your other campaigns. Alongside this, you can’t negate keywords to prevent this from happening.

To date, Google hasn’t implemented any device modifiers and there isn’t any device-specific data on performance given to advertisers. This makes it hard to test campaigns to their fullest, and you have no way of comparing desktop and mobile.

Tips for Success

Should you choose to give Google Performance Max a test-run, here are some rules of the road: 

1. Implement accurate, full-funnel conversion tracking

2. Don’t forget to add at least one video asset — if you don’t create them, Google Ads will create them for you

3. Use Performance Max for conversion objectives only — these campaigns will only let you bid for Conversion or Conversion Value

Should I Stop Search Campaigns? 

In short, no. The Google Performance Max Campaigns must run alongside your core campaigns. To see the best results, keep investing in your search campaigns and running them with Performance Max. This will help you ensure the reach of your campaigns. While search campaigns give you control of keywords, they also give you more visibility in terms of data and a higher control in optimizing your campaigns. The ideal strategy for reaching your advertising objectives would be running Performance Max alongside your core standard campaigns.

Questions about Google’s Performance Max product or campaigns in general? Talk to a Google Partner Agency (us, hint hint) about how to take advantage of all of Google’s digital marketing tools. Get in touch via our Contact Form.

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