Google Ads

Google Ads Streamlines Switch to Performance Max

Google Ads has long encouraged Performance Max campaigns. With the ability to target all channels — search, video, more — and with smart bidding options, Performance Max campaigns can drive more conversions and revenue.

Google recently announced options to upgrade Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) and Display campaigns to Performance Max. The upgrade is in the “Recommendations” tab in the admin.

Screenshot of Google Ads upgrade page

The Google Ads option to upgrade to Performance Max is in the admin’s “Recommendations” tab. Click image to enlarge.

The upgrade process takes existing assets, settings, and budget to create the new Performance Max campaign. Before the campaign goes live, Google shares the draft and any entities needing fixing. It’s imperative to review the campaign to ensure all entities are correct. Google’s algorithm can create the campaign but needs humans to finalize it.

Google provided in 2022 an upgrade option for Shopping campaigns. Thus Google now recommends that three campaign types — Shopping, DSA, Display — migrate to Performance Max. The question for advertisers isn’t whether to migrate but how.

At its recent annual Marketing Live events, Google demonstrated its growing commitment (and investment) in Performance Max, adding features monthly while deprecating legacy campaign types, such as Smart Shopping.

Here are three ways to wade into the Performance Max waters.

Upgrade Individual Campaigns

There’s little reason to upgrade, say, three DSA and four Display campaigns simultaneously. For example, a merchant with unique DSA campaigns for boots, sandals, and slippers could upgrade only sandals to Performance Max.

Regardless, the upgrade process requires a bit of tweaking. DSA campaigns use audiences and URL rules, while Performance Max uses audience signals and page feeds. Audiences target defined users while audience signals drive new users Google sees as relevant. Page feeds tell Google what URLs to target, but URL rules can both include and exclude pages. Performance Max automatically creates page feeds.

Gradually upgrading campaigns allows for trial and error to test:

  • Assets,
  • Audience signals,
  • Bid strategies.

Gradual upgrades also avoid a massive change that would likely cause poor short-term performance.

Run Experiments

Google Ads offers two experiments to test Performance Max campaigns: (i) an overall uplift and (ii) a comparison to Shopping campaigns.

Both experiments run Performance Max alongside existing campaigns. The uplift experiment tests against a Search or Display campaign, such as a Search campaign targeting men’s boots against a new Performance Max campaign for those same items.

The second experiment tests Shopping against Performance Max, helpful for advertisers running only Shopping campaigns.

Google says it will release Performance Max custom experiments later this year, wherein advertisers can test various items in existing Performance Max campaigns. For example, an advertiser could test bid strategies — maximize conversions vs. ROAS — while keeping other components constant. I’m looking forward to the release. It will be a definitive way to know which Performance Max structure works best for a specific advertiser.

Review Performance

My criticism of Performance Max campaigns is the lack of transparency. Advertisers can see the overall results, but not by network. We don’t know, for example, how much spend goes to a Search campaign vs. Shopping.

Luckily, there is a solution.

Mike Rhodes of AgencySavvy wrote a script that breaks out campaign performance by network. The example below shows roughly 50% of the spend going to Shopping campaigns in the last 30 days and 75% since mid-July.

Screenshot of a graph from Mike Rhodes' script

Mike Rhodes’ script breaks out Performance Max campaign performance by network. Click image to enlarge.

For each network, Rhodes’ script provides:

  • Cost (spend),
  • Conversions,
  • Revenue,
  • Return on ad spend.

The script definitely helps Performance Max advertisers, despite Google determining the spend by network.

Say the script shows 95% of spend going to Shopping with a profitable ROAS. Advertisers could then turn off a standard Shopping campaign and let all traffic go to Performance Max. Or if Google allocates most Performance Max spend to underperforming Display campaigns, advertisers could update image and video assets.

Matthew Umbro
Matthew Umbro
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