We had so many great questions about Performance Max campaigns asked during the Tuesday chat (February 2, 2022) and during the audio chat last week with Ginny Marvin of Google Ads that we decided to put them all together into a separate post from the chat recap.
From Tuesday’s Chat
Q: Is there anything in the works for Performance Max that will address cannibalization or exclusions?
A: Yes: 1. For exclusions: Content exclusions are available and we will be introducing keyword exclusions at the account level to address brand safety concerns.
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.
Q: Will we be able to build and edit Performance Max campaigns in Google Ads Editor?
A: Good news: Editor will support Performance Max campaigns in the next version release.
Q: Will there be more data in reports and more control over Performance Max campaigns?
A: 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.
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.
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.
Placements report is available under Reports > Predefined > Other.
& the Bid strategy report helps show how your Smart Bidding strategy is performing https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/7074566
Q: How do you know that Performance Max is not stealing most of the traffic? Exact match keywords in other campaigns are supposed to prioritized when PMax is competing against same terms, but how can we be sure?
A: 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.
Otherwise, prioritization is based on Ad Rank (e.g. the most relevant creative, landing page) to determine which campaign is predicted to deliver the most relevant ad and best ROI.
Q: What are the most successful use cases you’ve seen in terms of industry, audiences, creative, etc.?
A: Performance Max 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.
From the Audio Chat on Thursday
Q: When/is standard shopping going away?
A: This is not on the current roadmap.
Q: If currently running Local, Discovery and Shopping and these are collapsed into Performance Max, how is it recommended to best manage this?
Discovery, Display and Video campaigns are still supported, and if you are aiming to drive performance with specific channels, formats, or audiences, consider using those campaigns. We recommend running Performance Max alongside your existing campaigns to maintain current results.
Performance Max campaigns can optimize to one or more goals– and this is where conversion value inputs are so critical. You can run multiple Performance Max campaigns, but you only need to do this if there are constraints that require different budgets – conversion goals, ROAS targets, geo, etc. Otherwise, using asset groups + listing groups ensure that the assets are relevant.
It’s best to start testing Performance Max now on new campaigns you want to create. Performance Max will be prioritized over Smart Shopping and Local campaigns, so you might consider using different products or geo targets for your PMax testing than what you are running in your other campaigns so they remain separate to start. Reminder, self-upgrade tools will be available in April for Smart Shopping and in June for Local campaigns.
The Optimization Tips for PMax Help Center article has some helpful information as well.
Q: Will Performance Max auto generate content if you don’t have a particular type of content uploaded (specifically video)? Can you opt out of this auto creation?
A: If you do not upload your own video assets, Performance Max creates videos from the text & images you upload to the campaign. Only your own assets are used in those videos, and you can see these in the Assets page. The source will be listed as “Automatically created”. We’re also planning to show example previews so stay tuned for that.
Performance Max auto-creates these assets to provide automation systems with the broadest set of options to help you serve on more relevant inventory and to drive more conversions toward your goal. Performance Max can determine which channel and format can deliver the highest-value conversion at the best marginal ROI at auction time, including video.
There is no way to opt out of this at this time.
Q: What kind of exclusions are available in Performance Max campaigns?
A: All at account level:
- Placement exclusions for specific pages, sites, mobile apps, and videos
- Inventory type
- Sensitive content
- Digital content labels
Location exclusions at the campaign level.
Q: Is content exclusions the same as sites + youtube channels? or is it just ‘topics’ we can exclude?
A: Placement exclusions are for ad placements on specific URLs/apps at the account-level since the goal is for this to be used for brand safety reasons. You can exclude placements for specific pages, sites, mobile apps, and videos, where you don’t want your ads to show.
Account-level Inventory type, sensitive content and digital content label settings also apply to Performance Max.
This Help Center page has more info about content exclusions for Performance Max (located at the bottom)
Q: What if you can’t provide first party data – either you don’t have it or there are regulations prohibiting it for an advertiser? / How does Performance Max work for clients with no remarketing lists due to Google policy?
A: Audience signals are optional in Performance Max and used to help jumpstart the machine learning. We recommend using custom segments and your own data as signals, but recognize that is not always possible. Custom segments (consider search-term based segments, in particular), interests, demographics, in-market segments, life events, etc. can all be used as signals.
The Insights page will show Audience insights to help understand top customers customer segments – including those that came from signals you input yourself – and you can build on that.
Q: Does PMax differentiate between TOF, MOF and BOF traffic? How does it do this?
A: To add more context and detail to what was discussed on the call, Performance Max is aimed at low-to-mid funnel. We focus on your conversion goals to deliver the highest-value conversions at the best marginal ROI at auction time. The Performance Max algorithm specifically tries to capture the most qualified conversions at the provided ROI target. The campaign’s goal is to optimize for this performance, so for measurement and optimization, select the lowest funnel conversions with reasonable volume and that are most closely aligned to the final business outcome to drive the best results.
Along with indicating your lowest funnel conversions, Asset groups can be used to guide Performance Max. Asset groups allow you to theme your creatives and set your Audience Signals. We typically recommend creating one asset group with optional audience signals to let the campaign choose the best creative combinations to serve to the right audiences, such as audiences in different stages of the buying journey, but you can create unique asset groups for different final URLs if your assets are designed for or best suited for a specific landing page. Or you may opt to create multiple asset groups for the same final URL in order to customize your creatives by audience – MOF or BOF audiences, for example. Note, however, that audience signals are not hard targeting/exclusions and Performance Max may expand targeting beyond the selected signals.
Here are couple of relevant Help Center articles on asset groups that might be helpful:
Q: Can you add audience exclusions?
A: Not at this time.
Q: Will negative keywords be able to be added to Performance Max campaigns?
A: Adding negative keywords at the account level is on the roadmap for brand safety purposes.
Q: How long is the typical initial learning period for Performance Max campaigns?
A: Recommendation is to run campaigns for at least 6 weeks for initial learning and to have enough data to compare performance. See the Optimization Tips for Performance Max article for more on this. Using audience signals can help speed the ramp up.
Q: Cannibalization in Performance Max — what exactly will it take if you have other campaigns running?
A: Within the same account, Performance Max campaigns will be prioritized over existing Smart Shopping campaigns, standard Shopping campaigns, and Display Dynamic Remarketing campaigns that cover the same products. This is intentional because Performance Max is designed to optimize and serve on inventory across Google channels. As a result, we do not recommend running these in parallel with overlapping targeting (e.g., with overlapping products in the same geographic region).
When a query exactly matches (including spell corrected queries) an exact, phrase or broad match keyword within a Search campaign, the Search campaign will be prioritized in serving over Performance Max. Otherwise, it will be determined by Ad Rank.
Q: Can you drop your branded traffic out of Performance Max campaigns?
A: Not with negatives. Negative keywords are planned for the account level and intended for brand safety controls.
If the keyword is identical to the query (or spell corrected), Search will be prioritized. Otherwise, prioritization is based on Ad Rank (e.g. the most relevant creative, landing page) to determine which campaign is predicted to deliver the most relevant ad and best ROI.
Q: If we have a client that can’t advertise on GDN due to issues like sensitive events, will Performance Max still be beneficial?
Performance Max does have account level brand safety controls, but by design, Performance Max optimizes across all channels within your brand safety constraints. There is no way to exclude GDN.
Q: When smart shopping came in we started to see a decline in the performance of standard shopping. We are starting to see a decline in performance on smart shopping campaigns, could this be due to Performance Max? This is about smart shopping accounts that don’t have performance max
A: Changes to campaign performance over time may be due to a variety of factors (ie. changes in end-user behavior, changes in auction dynamics due to advertiser mix, etc.). Across accounts, Performance Max is not being explicitly prioritized over any other campaign type and competes in auctions in the same way as other campaigns.
Within the same account, Performance Max campaigns will be prioritized over existing Smart Shopping campaigns, standard Shopping campaigns, and Display Dynamic Remarketing campaigns that cover the same products. This is intentional because Performance Max is designed to optimize and serve on inventory across Google channels. As a result, we do not recommend running these in parallel with overlapping targeting (e.g., with overlapping products in the same geographic region).
Q: What about misspellings of brand names?
A: Spell corrected keywords in Search campaigns will be prioritized over Performance Max.
Q: Will advertisers ever be able to see Insights at the asset group or campaign level?
A: We currently rank assets of the same type as Low, Good, Best, based on their performance in the campaign to give an indication of what’s performing well and which ones could be replaced to drive better performance based on similar assets. The Combinations report shows top creative asset combinations (image, text-only, video) & you can see how those combinations serve as an ad. Expect to see more asset insights coming to the Insights page, such as which assets perform best with which audience segments.
Q: When would an advertiser not want to use Performance Max?
A: The current use cases for PMax are online sales, lead gen and store visits. If your goal is awareness or app installs, for example, Performance Max 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.
We recommend continuing to run your regular Search keyword and other existing campaigns alongside PMax to maintain strong results, while using Performance Max to find incremental conversions.
Q: What is the ideal combination of audience signals? Ideal combined audience size? Does one type work better than the others?
A: Signals are used to help jumpstart the machine learning. We recommend using custom segments and your own first-party data, when possible, to signal segments of users that are most relevant to your business and most likely to convert. Customer lists as well as custom segments, interests, demographics, in-market segments, life events, etc. can all be used as signals.
Performance Max uses those signals to ramp up optimization. Audience signals are optional, so if you don’t provide any or provide signals that turn out not to be effective, Performance Max will still seek out the highest converting audience for your goals, but the ramp up will likely take longer.
Q: If we are running a Performance Max campaign, will we appear in the Auction Insight report of our competitor who is running a Search campaign?
The auction insights report for Search campaigns compares an advertiser’s performance with other advertisers participating in the same auctions. If one advertiser’s Performance Max campaign competes in the same auction as another advertiser’s Search campaign, it’s possible that the aggregated number shown would take into account Performance Max auction details. It’s important to note however that an advertiser will not know who or what campaign types they were participating in the auction with. This is no different than other existing cross-channel campaign types (ex. Local campaigns, Smart Shopping campaigns, etc.)
Q: Does Performance Max support Conversions with Cart Data?
Performance Max supports a number of cart-based goals such as add to cart, begin checkout, online purchase and more.
Q: Can you confirm if Performance Max works less well if imported conversions are used instead of conversions with the Global Ads tag?
If your goal is lead gen, we recommend using offline conversion imports to improve lead quality.
Using offline conversion imports is important to share information about which ad engagements result in store sales or other offline, final sales. If you’re a lead gen advertiser, providing this data about which leads actually result in sales will help Performance Max drive higher lead quality across channels.
Note, if your offline conversion volume is relatively low and/or the sales cycle results in long conversion delays, adding conversion actions that are higher in the funnel and/or serve as a proxy for conversion can also help steer automation.
Q: With these machine learning products, we need to be focused on the inputs rather than the media buying itself. How does she suggest we optimize these inputs to improve our results? What does a testing framework look like in a super automated environment?
A: Inputs are what you know about your business – your goals, what conversion actions you value, what audiences are most likely to convert (integrating your first-party data via Customer Match and/or remarketing lists is especially effective), your best creative assets, etc. It’s critical to share which conversions are most valuable to you to maximize conversion quality and value across channels. There are multiple ways to do this by setting conversion values, using value rules and using offline conversion imports to share which conversions result in final sales.
At this stage, pre- and post campaign performance comparison is the best way to evaluate if Performance Max improved overall ROI and conversion volume for your account. Stay tuned for more formal experimentation and A/B testing tools in the coming months.