Google’s Performance Max campaigns have sparked quite a conversation as the relatively new kid on the block when it comes to digital advertising. This type of campaign uses Google automation technologies to optimize ad performance based on your specified advertising goals along with any audience signals, data feeds, and creative assets you add.
In this post, we’ll go over the basics of Performance Max campaigns.
The biggest cause for hesitation among advertisers when it comes to Performance Max campaigns centers around the aspect of automation. How much control is left to the advertiser? And probably a bigger question would be: Can machine learning work well enough to rival or outperform human input when it comes to controlling certain ad options?
While automated PPC seems to be becoming the standard, this doesn’t mean it’s completely taking control away from advertisers. You still retain control overall but can leave the more painful details to the tool. This includes setting targets correctly based on your business goals, giving detailed and more accurate conversion data to the Google AI faster than you can, and optimizing structured data and feeds so Google can generate more effective creatives and match ads more precisely to queries.
For years, exact match keywords and tightly themed ad group themes defined one of PPC’s best practices. This method basically gave advertisers full reign over their campaigns. This method isn’t easily replicable when it comes to Performance Max. Through machine learning, dynamic ads are created for each relevant search query, which is different from the process involved in static ads and keywords. Dynamic ads are personalized depending on the user and rely heavily on automation, while static ads show up as the same image chosen by the advertiser. Static ads are usually the less costly option, but dynamic ads are more effective in driving conversions.
Some might feel more comfortable limiting what the automation can do. Some might prefer to retain control over the behavior to match what has been established as the norm for many years. However, some advertisers see this limiting course of action as a missed opportunity. Giving the machine the space to learn and test things out could yield unexpectedly positive results.
In fact, keeping the automation on too tight of a leash might work against advertisers’ best interests. If you give the machine restrictive goals to work towards, it will find an audience and find ways to achieve those goals. However, expanding those restrictions after the machine has gotten comfortable predicting how that area of traffic operates might lead to the machine prioritizing the originally set parameters because that is where it is achieving the results the advertiser is looking for.
Advertisers who provide space for automation could be surprised by unique interactions. For example, these might include specific conversions in areas that only automation could have achieved.[bctt tweet=”Instead of serving ads that are wholly written by the advertiser themselves, Performance Max uses automation to mix and match with ad assets to build ads.” username=”ThatCompanycom”]
Aside from the question of control, Performance Max includes other aspects that may make advertisers reluctant to try it out.
- Performance Max machine learning requires a time investment of about 2 weeks of preferably uninterrupted learning to maximize its potential. During this time, it tests out what works well and what isn’t as successful. Another caveat is that it is quite difficult to include human input to accelerate learning. This extra waiting time is something that PPC agencies and hired professionals need to inform clients about. PPC has historically been marketed as providing clients with quick results. This means that it also has the ability to do instant optimization. Clients should have their expectations managed and informed on how long the machines are set to learn before optimization occurs. The machines should be given the space to learn and experiment. Any campaign adjustments introduced while the machine is learning are not recommended, as they could interfere with the process.
- Instead of manually setting and restricting the maximum CPC bid, bids are automated based on advertiser goals.
- Performance Max tends to let keywords run free, a lot like how a Broad Match campaign would go.
- Instead of serving ads that are wholly written by the advertiser themselves, Performance Max uses automation to mix and match with ad assets to build ads.
Using Creative Assets
A successful PPC ad campaign relies on two important aspects: optimized targeting and bidding. Ads were only effective if they were shown to the correct audience and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Even if an ad isn’t a perfect one, if the target audience is met, it will still yield good results.
Performance Max frees advertisers from having to choose what keywords to use and what bids to set. This means that the creative aspect becomes a lot more important in terms of controlling optimization. A lot of advertisers have experience with text ads only, so this can pose a significant challenge. For ad types like video, it can be extremely helpful to hire white-label expert creators. (For more on that topic read this article – What is white label PPC?)
We believe that you will fare better with new video ads regardless. Done is better than perfect! The same goes for social media advertising where it is common for ads to get old quickly and stop driving results.
In some way, the case here is more about quantity than quality. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should abandon quality, but it is more important to get them out there quickly. Advertisers should come up with creative ways to quickly shoot ads or to reuse older assets with some changes. The genius behind Performance Max has a way of drawing in audiences and getting them to click on ads.
Remember, your landing page or website is where users are redirected after clicking an ad. Therefore, there should be significant effort and resources allocated to creating an optimized experience once they land. This increases the chances of visitors converting into paying customers.
More Flexible with Structure
Advertisers, even those who are still concerned about losing control over their ads, need not worry about campaign structure.
Online advertisers can continue to maintain full control of their manual shopping campaigns. Otherwise, advertisers can migrate their Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max – a process that is already being done automatically. Just because there is a new method, doesn’t mean the old one is out just yet.
You can choose to keep different ad campaigns running for flexibility when setting your target ROAS. This can help you manage profit margins. Splitting products into these different campaigns is easy with custom labels applied to the feeds. Just make sure that you have the right products in the right places.
Performance Max is transforming the PPC space. Ad campaign management is also changing as a result. While it was all about keywords and bidding strategies, the future appears to be more about managing automated processes that are built to drive conversions to fulfill campaign goals. Automation is not here to completely replace the way PPC has been done, but rather transform it. Advertisers and digital marketers provide valuable experience that, when working in conjunction with machine learning and automation, can lead to even more effective campaigns. While some prefer more manual management, in time that mentality may be very similar to those referenced in “who moved my cheese?”. Get your running shoes on, the cheese has already moved. Automation is only going to become bigger and bigger, and wishing for the “good ole days” won’t do you or your clients very much good.
If you need help managing your Performance Max campaigns, contact us about white label PPC support services.