Rolled out across all accounts in late 2021, Performance Max campaigns are Google Ads’ new shiny automated toy. Here at GlowMetrics, we have tested Performance Max campaigns over the past few months, and we have come up with several ways to help optimise your campaigns to ensure you are getting the best returns.
1. Review Assets Performance
By using the ‘View Details’ option from the ‘Asset Groups’ menu, you can see how Google has ranked each asset. The performance row, in the asset table, will rank each asset as either ‘Low’, ‘Good’, ‘Best’, ‘Learning’ or ‘Pending’ – if there isn’t enough data collected yet. Each ranking factor is based on a comparison to the other similar assets in the group. If you only have one type of that asset (ie. a video), then the campaign will have nothing to compare it to and you will have no performance ranking.
The table on the Asset Group page is also a good way to see if your campaign assets have been approved to serve.
2. Monitor Your Budget
Using the Overview Card in the main Performance Max campaign page, you can easily view how much your campaign is spending per day over an extended period. This will allow you to make any budget alterations.
If the Performance Max campaign is spending its full budget every day, it might be worth testing it with more budget to see if you can scale up your performance. In this case, it is best to benchmark your progress (I recommend using ‘all Conv. Value/cost’), to ensure your level of return is staying the same or increasing.
3. Ensure all Your Products are Ready to Serve
One of the newer features of the Performance Max campaigns is the inclusion of Google Merchant Centre feeds/CSS feeds – foreshadowing the demise of Smart Shopping campaigns, for Performance Max in 2022.
While the process is the same as the Merchant Centre, you can view if products are ‘Ready to Serve’ on the Ads platform by using the ‘Products’ menu option and viewing the ‘Product Status ‘column – hovering over the ‘Product Status’ will display more information. If the products are not deemed as ‘Ready to Serve’ then they will not appear in any of the ads.
4. Add Some Extensions
Similar to the other ad types, extensions can be applied to Performance Max Campaigns. Though, as Google’s machine learning will choose what selection of assets to serve and what extensions are served with them, it is important to ensure the extensions you pick are suitable for all assets.
If you are still unsure what extensions to choose, you can view some of the top asset combinations by selecting ‘Combinations’ from the ‘View Details’ option from the ‘Asset Groups’ menu. By clicking on the ‘Preview Ads’ button under the ‘Top text-only combinations’ you can see how your campaigns search-based ads look and therefore it might be easier to choose/create extensions.
5. Ensure you Have a Full Group of Relevant Assets
Ensuring you have a full group of assets goes a long way to helping Google to optimise the campaigns ads while ensuring all assets are relevant is also important. Your ads will lose creditability if the ad copy, images and videos are not relevant to your business, campaign and other assets.
When testing Performance Max campaigns, we noticed that Google Ads will create a video for your campaign if you do not upload a video asset. As you can imagine, the videos can be a little off-brand and while they do tend to improve with Google’S machine learning over time, it is better to ensure you start with at least one video asset.
6. Beware Final URL Expansion
Final URL expansion is a powerful tool that is automatically selected when you set up a Performance Max campaign. If left selected, the campaign can ‘send traffic to the most relevant URLs on your site’, and serve a dynamic headline based on customer intent.
While this could be a great way to push a little bit more out of your campaign, it is important to exclude any URLs that aren’t relevant to your campaign as Google Ads may serve ads for these URLs ie. Terms & Conditions.
7. Test Ad Scheduling
Ad Scheduling is a useful way of ensuring your ads are being served in the times that they are getting results. Simply focus down your calendar view to a single day to see if there are many times during the day that your Performance Max campaign is getting a low return for ad spend, then check that across a number of days to confirm the pattern. If you find a pattern, go to the ‘Ad Schedule’ tab and edit what times your ad will be served. This is also a good way to ensure efficient spending if you have a limited budget.
8. Using Audience Signal (Custom Audiences/Segments & ‘Your Data’)
OK, this one isn’t much of an optimisation tactic and more of a basic foundation of a Performance Max campaign. Feeding your campaign with one or both of Custom Audiences/Segments and ‘Your Data’ (lists of people who have previously interacted with your business) will give the campaign a ‘starting point to find new conversions across Google’. This will allow your campaign to start performing at a higher rate, faster. That being said, you can add an Audience Signal after your campaign is running, so this could be used to enhance performance.
9. Branch Out the Focus of your Campaign
We have tested Performance Max Campaigns with a few different focuses and found the majority of the results to be positive. From a full website focus to a single product focus, we found that if we fed the campaign with the correct assets, at least one custom audience or ‘Your Data’ and a single-minded version of Final URL extensions, the campaign generated a very strong return.
Either way, testing a more focused or less focused campaign may be a good way to help plug some gaps in your marketing by using Google’s machine learning while also generating a good return on ad spend. Though remember to exclude any overlapping URLs or your ads will be battling against each other.
Found any of these tips helpful, or perhaps you found something else useful you want to share? Let us know in the comments.