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Ultimate Guide To Performance Max Campaigns (2023)

Google introduced Performance Max campaigns towards the end of 2021 and they took the world by storm, particularly for eCommerce stores.

Pmax campaigns as they are commonly known were a forced upgrade of Smart Shopping campaigns at the time with users now unable to create the latter.

What are Performance Max ads?

Performance Max campaigns are able to show ads across all available channels of the Google Ads platform: Search, Shopping, YouTube, Display, Discover, Gmail, and Maps.

Instead of being limited to one type of ad format, these can target everything within the single campaign.

How do Performance Max campaigns work?

Picture the assets you need to run ads on Search, Shopping, Display and YouTube, and that’s what you need to run a Pmax campaign. And you don’t have to include everything. If you don’t want to run these campaigns on YouTube then don’t add any videos.

If you want to run your ads on all of these platforms then you will need to provide Google with the following assets:

  • Final URL
  • Up to 20 images
  • Up to 5 logos
  • Up to 5 videos
  • Up to 5 headlines (30 characters)
  • Up to 5 long headlines (90 characters)
  • Up to 5 descriptions (1x 60 characters, 4x 90 characters)
  • Business name

Google will then use your assets to produce an ad dependent on where it is being placed.

The difference between Performance Max and Standard Shopping campaigns is as follows:

Performance MaxStandard Shopping
PlacementsSearch Network, Display Network, YouTube, Gmail, Discovery & MapsSearch Network
ReachVery wideLimited
Bid strategyMaximise Conversions or Maximize Conversion Value (with optional targets)All bidding strategies
Level of controlLowVery high
Campaign transparencyLowHigh
Optimisation potentialMediumVery high
Remarketing includedYesNo
Impact on Search campaignsYesNone

What are the Pros of Performance Max?

Google states the following benefits of Performance Max campaigns:

  • Increase conversions and value
  • Find new customers
  • Gain richer insights
  • Work together with automation

Comparing my clients that were previously running Smart Shopping campaigns versus Performance Max, the new campaign format won 100% of the time in terms of return on investment.

Compariing my clients’ new performance max campaigns versus manual Shopping campaigns was far from conclusive. It was 50-50 at best at the time of writing this guide.

I believe they can be very useful for someone with an ecommerce store that has limited or no Google Ads experience as they are easy to setup. However, they don’t guarantee profit and still require optimisation to improve.

What are the Cons of Performance Max?

The biggest criticism I have of Performance Max campaigns is that there are little to no insights. Similar as to why I wasn’t a fan of Smart Shopping campaigns, there is even less insight coming out of these.

You cannot tell where your budget is being allocated, which channels, which keywords get the clicks and conversions. You literally just seen the most basic of stats, like so:

And just because the numbers for your campaign look good, you still have to check the quality of those conversions. As I stated earlier, it’s 50-50 at best if these perform better than Shopping campaigns, and I am yet to see a Pmax campaign outperform Search for B2B clients. Client’s I have trialled them on have reported low quality and spammy leads from these campaigns.

Is Google Performance Max worth it?

Similar to any of Google’s ad types and any paid media campaign, if it’s profitable for your business, then yes. You will never know until you’ve tried running Pmax campaigns if they will be profitable or not for you.

I am seeing excellent results for ecommerce clients so I would certainly recommend testing them if you have an ecommerce business.

If you need help with your Performance Max campaigns or Google Ads account, get in touch today and I will be glad to help.