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Welcome readers to an another round of PPCChat recap! This week’s discussion was all about Performance Max Campaign. Host Julie F Bacchini & guest host AdsLiaison sought PPCers views on the success of their performance max campaigns, what challenges experts are facing, is there anything they wish were different about Performance Max campaigns and more.

Q1: Are you running/have you run any Performance Max campaigns in Google Ads?

No. Doesn’t seem to be a use case for PMax for B2B. @beyondthepaid

Yes. I’m dabbling with PMax. @robert_brady

I am not currently running any Performance Max campaigns. Always want to learn about things even if I’m not personally using them! @NeptuneMoon

Not yet, but interested to hear what use cases are experiencing the most success. @SEMFlem

Not using them yet, but I get the feeling I’ll have to soon enough. I use Discovery and Locals pretty heavily. @JuliaVyse

Yes, running several PMax campaigns for ecom clients. Good performance so far, very encouraging. @nikkijumpfly

Yes and IMHO they require a complete new approach to Google Ads Management @ga_benedetti

I haven’t tested performance max yet but I’m very interested to hear other people’s questions and experiences. @alexnicoll93

We are running it. It’s not perfect but have to start. With the deadline fast approaching. It would be crazy to test it only in Q4 or during summer, which can be slow for some ecom brands. I feel it’s a now and make use of all the time we have type moment. @duanebrown

Yup, we’re testing a few different options with Performance Max @DigitalSamIAm

I am running P. Max. (with varying levels of success). @jord_stark

Yes, most of them eComm as is the kind of clients I have. I have g sheets where I document specifications for each account type (long run, a lot of volumen, low budget, high/low AOV, only one campaign, only brand camp…) so I can check diversity of performances @MaiMolina_

Same! @TheMarketingAnu

Yep, currently testing in different accounts @ThatSearchGuyNL

I started running some P. Max campaigns couple of weeks ago but so far they are not seeing incredible results. @SofiaAkritidou1

Q2: If you have not run any Performance Max campaigns yet, why have you not tried them?

I’m rebuilding our paid channel, so more bricklaying than testing going on at this point. @SEMFlem

Because I do omnichannel. I don’t need more campaigns that take Facebook’s approach & just do everything. I use search one way, YouTube one way, display separately, shopping separately etc. Mashing it all together just hides and doesn’t allow for our strat to shine. @JuliaVyse

It seems like Performance Max is better suited for other types of businesses than my current client mix (all lead gen), so there isn’t a desire to have ads across all the Google channels for my clients. @NeptuneMoon

I can see some waiting on the budget to test or rather just wait it out…. due to lack of transparency of reporting within the placement types. @duanebrown

This. Not enough control in PMax for our enterprise clients. @beyondthepaid

I was a bit reluctant to start testing, primarily bcs of uncertainty about cannibalizing other campaigns @ThatSearchGuyNL

Takes time to warm up our B2B clients, who use solely search & display. We are broaching the PMax topic with some of them on strategy calls @heyglenns

Same for me! @alexnicoll93

The smart campaigns tend to drive brand and our dealerships are strongly against bidding on their brand name as a rule, also showing up on other dealers maps even as an add violates rules for the OEM (again I am specialized in auto dealership ppc) @runnerkik

Q3: How has the performance of your Performance Max campaigns been?

Honestly, dreadful thus far. PMax end up cannibalizing other, higher-performing individual channels while effectively serving as a remnant filler for Google. @DigitalSamIAm

Too early to tell. Also, analyzing the real overall uplift in performance is difficult due to PMac going after branded searches and existing customers. @ThatSearchGuyNL

Decent. Our agency thinks about it from a “how would we use smart shopping in this account”. PMax is smart shopping in the end. Been testing it on some SKUs that struggle in different product categories. Need more data and testing. @duanebrown

Results have been surprisingly good. We’ve been testing it for campaigns that have not been performing well for Shopping (either smart or standard) and all of them have eclipsed the benchmark results (and importantly, no search cannibalization). @nikkijumpfly

Surprisingly achieving ROAS goals for big budgets. For small budgets & some accounts, getting some conversions that I didn’t have any other way. I usually see conversion peaks when I start automatic campaigns though & they are pretty new, so still checking @MaiMolina_

Difficult to tell! I saw good ROAS but Brand KWS are inside! Even if it is told that Exact Match has priority over PMAX, I have read some Brand terms in the Query Report of my PMAX camp. and there is the Brand Search Term. The black box is really difficult to study @ga_benedetti

I’ve got it in place with one account. Ecomm. It’s producing a good ROAS, but seems to be cannibalizing other areas of the account. We’re adding a lot of exact match keywords to those campaigns to rein the PMax in. @robert_brady

There are only two categories, amazing or terrible. There is no in-between. There is no mediocre. @jord_stark

Exact match is not a solution – Go and check your Query Report – you will sadly find your brand terms even if you have them Exact Match in your Search Campaigns with IS=100% @ga_benedetti

So far very good for most brands that can use it. I also work with some medical or regulated brands who are not willing to do them due to the lack of control with the campaign type currently. @lchasse

@adsliaison – Is there anything in the works for PMax that will address cannibalization or exclusions? @NeptuneMoon

Glad you asked. Yes: 1. For exclusions: Content exclusions are available and we will be introducing keyword exclusions at the account level to address brand safety concerns. 2. Re cannibalization: In Search, when a query exactly matches (including spell corrected queries) an exact, phrase or broad match keyword within a Search campaign, that will be prioritized in serving over Performance Max. IOW, your Search keywords trump Performance Max @adsliaison

Why are keyword exclusions for PMax only at the account level? at the campaign level would seem to make more sense for advertisers. @ThatSearchGuyNL

Q4: What is your biggest challenge with Performance Max campaigns?

Managing the automation. @jord_stark

The absolute dearth of reporting. @robert_brady

Getting some good quality videos to add to the assets. (otherwise, Google will automatically create some for you, AND show them as well!) @ThatSearchGuyNL

Lack of data, lack of data, lackofdata! (placements, keywords). The interface isn’t good – the Overview page never seems to render for me, so no idea if there is value there. And I miss having a graph at the top like on the ad group level (maybe it’s in overview?). @nikkijumpfly

In my Experience, PMAX will eat Exact Match KWs. I found my Exact Match Kws In Google Analytics report “search query” filtered by PMAX Campaign, Do you have an idea of what can cause that? @ga_benedetti

@ga_benedetti If the query matches then the Search keyword will trump PMax, but if you have specific examples we can take a look at, DM me pls. Thx! @adsliaison

Honestly: (1) lack of data – clients want to know what’s working/what’s not. And if we don’t know where ads are running, we can’t make informed decisions about brand safety + performance (2) lack of control + exclusions – this thing just runs wild. @DigitalSamIAm

Reporting. Now y’all know I love Discovery ads. Been speaking about it at conferences since 2019. Would love to see a placements breakdown that goes beyond vanity metrics. How is Discovery vs YouTube vs Gmail vs SERP doing. Would love to use bid modifiers here. @duanebrown

How to move an account Setup from HAGAKURE to PMAX @ga_benedetti

Almost no data in its current form. Merchants use the shopping by item id reports to improve their feeds/product pages. No user exclusions for Gmail ads. If the videos being created by Google if one is not there is true, that is a huge brand/regulatory issue. @lchasse

The sad story short is: We have a lack of data, and moreover NO Actionable data. For example, I have an account with Desktop 4x Mobile in Conversion Rate, but Mobile is spending 10x Desktop. @ga_benedetti

Cannibalization between campaigns. I know there’s a prioritization system (very Google friendly). So, I’m struggling with maintaining balance w/ campaigns that I already have and testing PMax (bc SmartSHO was working really nice), especially with search and brand camp @MaiMolina_

The ROAS based bidding isn’t always aligned w/ margins or other business needs. Can’t imagine the over complications when you add multiple channels (all of them) in the same campaign. The target ROAS varies A LOT. So the allocated budget should be selected accordingly. @MaiMolina_

How do you know that Performance Max is not stealing most of the traffic? Exact match keywords in other campaigns are supposed to prioritised when P.Max is competing against the same terms, but how can we be sure? @SofiaAkritidou1

@SofiaAkritidou1 That’s correct when a query exactly matches (including spell corrected queries) an exact, phrase or broad match keyword within a Search campaign, that will be prioritized in serving over Performance Max. @adsliaison

IMO, the easiest the set up of one campaigns, the highest attention to the business needs. Don’t think this kind if campaigns are to make the PPC manager’s Life easier. @MaiMolina_

Q5: Is there anything you wish were different about Performance Max campaigns (could be setup, viewing data, etc.)? @adsliaison

Exclusions, and the ability to test without all available assets. If I don’t have a video budget, don’t just make one. let me load the assets I have and video placements just don’t serve until I add one. @JuliaVyse

Detailed search term data, placement reports, option to negate and exclude them. Max CPC bid would also be nice. Option to turn off automatic video creation. Please @adsliaison make our day! @ThatSearchGuyNL

I’m sure my answer will be all of the above. Also, the ability to build them in the editor would be nice. @jord_stark

For my ecom brands, they want the data. The data on the channels, products, etc… For my brands concerned with branding or regulatory issues (medical/legal etc…), let the campaign run without assets for video. Ability to upload exclusions (placements, emails) @lchasse

Honestly, right now PMax is like a half-cooked frittata: G threw a bunch of leftover stuff together, mixed it up with eggs (automation) and now is serving it up as a 7-course meal. The only problem is the end product is a runny mess more likely to give you salmonella. @DigitalSamIAm

Campaign Level KW Exclusion, Campaign Level Placement Exclusion, Device Modifier, Public Targeting instead of … “help me to start observation”, Detailed and Actionable Reporting @ga_benedetti

Good news: Editor will support PMax campaigns in the next version release @adsliaison

More data (network, placement, search queries), a better interface, opt-out of an auto video, create/see them in Editor, more data, placement exclusions, negative keywords, more data. @nikkijumpfly

Exclude existing customers, exclude branded searches, and my NR1 request = access to all features via Google Ads Scripts! @ThatSearchGuyNL

Would love the insight into Assets Groups and why they are a thing in PMax. Any potential things coming down to make reporting more transparent…. @adsliaison? @duanebrown

I’m seeing several comments about reporting and control, so will try to address those. On Control/lack of exclusions: PMax focuses on your goal & driving more convs towards that goal. By providing automation w/ the broadest set of options, PMax can see which channel & format can deliver the highest-value conversion at the best marginal ROI at auction time. @adsliaison

This is why your *inputs* are so critical. Share which convs are most valuable to you to maximize conversion quality & value across channels. Set conv values, use-value rules and/or use offline conversion imports to share which conversions result in final sales. Note that Account-level placement exclusions are available for advertisers with brand safety concerns. @adsliaison

On reporting. I know it feels different than what we’ve all been used to but there are a number of reporting options available. The Insights page is a good place to start. Assets reporting shows top creative assets & the audience segments they’re resonating with. The Combinations report shows top creative asset combinations (image, text-only, video) & you can see how those combinations serve as an ad. @adsliaison

Placements report is available under Reports > Predefined > Other. & the Bid strategy report helps show how your Smart Bidding strategy is performing… @adsliaison

What are your Performance Max questions for @adsliaison ?

1) When would an advertiser not want to use Performance Max? Submitted by @PPCGreg

Best not to use PMax when conversions aren’t your main goal (ie: branding is) @ThatSearchGuyNL

The current use cases for PMax are online sales, lead gen and store visits. If your goal is awareness or app installs, for example, PMax wouldn’t be a fit at this point. Also, if you are aiming to drive performance with specific channels, formats, or audiences, consider using Display, Video and/or Discovery campaigns. And lastly, we recommend continuing to run your regular Search keyword & other existing campaigns alongside PMax to maintain strong results, while using PMax to find incremental conversions. Thx for the question & hope that helps. @adsliaison

2) @adsliaison What is the ideal combination of audience signals? Ideal combined audience size? Does one type work better than the others? Submitted by @jord_stark

You are just giving insights on how to start… audience are changed now! Read it carefully to understand what it is doing in PMAX! @ga_benedetti

3) What are the most successful use cases you’ve seen in terms of industry, audiences, creative, etc.? Submitted by @SEMFlem

PMax is goal-based & designed for customer acquisition – whether that’s leads, online sales, and/or in-store visits. The campaign identifies the inventory most likely to achieve your goals. @adsliaison

A couple of good resources shared by @adsliaison on Performance Max:

1. Best practices guide…

2. On Feb 22, we’re hosting a webinar on the Smart Shopping & Local campaign upgrade process & tools. Register here…

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