Six tips to get the most from your Google Performance Max campaigns

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After two years with our collective head jammed under the bonnet of Google’s Performance Max while we developed our new anti ad fraud solution, it’s fair to say we’ve developed a pretty clear idea of what works. TrafficGuard’s Aaron Chambers lets you in on all the secrets…

How are you getting on with Performance Max so far? Two years since its launch, and we’ve certainly got some thoughts. As AI and machine learning continue to grow and dominate the tech headlines, one thing’s for certain: it’s here to stay whether you like it or not. 

With that in mind, it makes sense to be getting the most you possibly can from your campaigns. In my role as marketing manager at TrafficGuard, I regularly speak to clients who are confused about the benefits PMax can bring, which is what inspired this piece in the first place. Originally it was five tips but they just kept coming…

Be very clear on your Performance Max structure and campaign goals from the outset

Put simply, this will make it easy to identify any issues as and when they occur. The ‘black box’ nature of PMax can make tracking the sources of ad clicks tricky. Expert marketers like yourself may spot patterns faster and gain deeper insights into specific actions before Google’s algorithm can, so it pays to make sure you’re making your life as easy as possible from the off. 

(For maximum making-your-life-easy, TrafficGuard’s Performance Max Solution breaks open the mysterious black box for you, but we’ll come back to that) 

When you’re setting up your Performance Max campaigns, all of your assets will go into an asset group; basically, a set of creatives that will be used to create an ad depending on the channel it’s being served on.

It’s best practice to organise your asset groups around a common theme, similar to how you organise your ad group: by the products or services that your business offers, or by your target audience or product category. The more considered your structure, the better your assets will match the search terms, and what it is your customers are actually looking for. 

Which brings us neatly to our next point:

Make sure your creative assets are optimised for best performance

Think of this as a chain reaction: the more assets you supply to Performance Max, the easier it is for Google’s algorithm to display your ad in the right format, on the right channel, and to the right target audience within the Google network. 

So really you’re doing yourself a favour with this one - you can thank me later. 

Add your own videos

While we’re on the subject of assets… If you don't add your own video to your Performance Max asset group, then Performance Max automation can generate video from the assets in your asset group so that all channels are covered. In reality, this is basically a slideshow, accompanied by music selected by the system.

Assuming you want to have influence on the branding, structure and appearance of your video (and I’m assuming you most definitely do) then it’s absolutely worth creating video content of your own. 

Add Audience Signals

By understanding and adding audience signals to your Performance Max campaigns you can help improve your ads’ relevance and effectiveness by tailoring them to those audiences most likely to be interested. 

Unlike a traditional campaign where you would tell Google exactly who you want to target, audience signals are only a starting point; once Google’s algorithm starts gathering data, it will branch out beyond your signal to show your ads to people who exhibit behaviour that suggests they are likely to convert. 

Bonus tip: use audience lists as signals to speed up the machine learning process

Add brand exclusions

Performance Max loves to take credit for branded search conversions (that’s traffic which would have converted anyway). People who are actively searching for your company name and then converting have clearly had interactions previously which made their decision, so when PMax claims these conversions as its own, your data gets skewed.

A good practice to follow to mitigate this is to exclude these conversions, then establish both branded search and branded standard shopping campaigns. Separating brand and non-brand traffic aligns with their distinct goals, optimising each's performance. While common practice for standard campaigns, applying this principle to pMax ensures accurate evaluation and enhanced visibility on Google Shopping. This shift may lower pMax ROAS/CPA but enhances reliability and branded search dominance.

Keep an eye on your advertising dollars

Back to that black box. Advanced machine learning is all very well and good but in my experience, marketers want to know exactly where their ad spend is going and exactly where their web traffic is coming from. 

Transparency is at the heart of everything we do at TrafficGuard, so we’ve spent the past two years researching, planning and engineering a complete Performance Max solution that offers transparency, data accessibility, and control over your advertising strategies in a way that Google simply doesn’t offer out of the box. 

You can find out more about TrafficGuard's Performance Max solution, but in short: 

  • We offer a deep dive into your ad campaigns, ad groups, keywords and ads. Detailed reporting allows you to see exactly where and how invalid traffic is affecting you
  • You’ll have visibility over every ad engagement; and if the engagement is invalid you’ll know precisely why
  • Customisable prevention allows you to tailor prevention measures to your unique needs and desired results to make sure every click counts

Aaron Chambers is TrafficGuard’s Marketing Manager for ANZ

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