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Are Performance Max Campaigns Right For Your Startup?

3 min read

Performance Max is one of the latest Google products available to utilise as part of your PPC strategy. With a wide reach even on tight budgets, it can be a great way to kick-start your PPC presence. Our handy blog will take you through where to get started!

What are Performance Max campaigns?

Performance Max (PM) combines many campaign types and shows ads across search, shopping, YouTube, display & more. The idea is that Google uses machine learning & AI to show an ad to the right user, on the right platform, at the right time. They were released to all advertisers Nov 2021 but really came into use in 2022 when Smart Shopping campaigns were upgraded to performance max. 

To summarise the pros and cons, they are extremely easy to set up and benefit from Google’s machine learning. However, you get very limited data and insight and give up a lot of control to Google.

What results have we seen so far?

We’ve tested Performance Max across a wide range of clients since 2022 and wanted to share our experience & advice with using them.

Initially, we saw across almost every client that initial performance was brilliant and they were outperforming all other campaign types. However, performance started to drop off and it was hard to explain why because there was such limited insight/data from the campaigns. This lack of data also made it hard to optimise the campaigns. From the insight we had, we found PM just hounded the end of the conversion funnel, so if the top of the funnel wasn’t being fed enough, conversions slowed down.

Where we’ve seen success

Performance Max has continued to do well for visually exciting brands where the images and creatives are strong. 

We’ve found PM works better if you don’t include a shopping feed so you’re only running on the other channels like search & display. Shopping campaigns are still superior in every way and you can’t run them at the same time (PM is just given all the traffic).

Tips & advice

For some clients, PM insights showed a lot of brand traffic which wasn’t always ideal since we already had a brand search campaign with a dedicated budget. You can prevent this by adding your own brand to ‘brand exclusions’ in the settings.

Remember to turn off ‘final URL expansion’ as this gives Google even more control to send traffic to any part of your site. 

Future expectations

We are very careful with PM campaigns and ensure we have tailored it to the client. However, updates are regularly being made by Google and it feels like they’ve understood that most PPC managers won’t accept having such little control and insight. Therefore, we are watching this space and hoping Performance Max will find its place in a PPC strategy alongside other campaign types.

What should your startup do?

With all our prior experience in mind and the potential opportunity for your startup a Performance Max campaign could be a strong way to start PPC marketing and get your foot in the door.  It might not provide full-funnel results but could help you see results, particularly if you have a lot of traffic that isn’t converting.

It may not provide detailed insights, but can generate great results, particularly if your budget is small or you’re struggling to get traffic that converts.

Alternatively, if you want an in-depth PPC strategy with a specialist who’s passionate about making paid search work for you speak to our Marketing team! We can help you master your PPC strategy enabling you to get back to the business-building aspects you most enjoy. 

Get in touch with Zeal