Google Performance Max campaigns: 7 Things to Know before you start

Posted on 2023-11-16


Google introduced Performance Max as an automated campaign type. Unlike other Google Ads campaigns, it requires almost no effort to set up and maintain. Just provide the algorithm conversion data and insights about the target audience, target KPIs, texts, images, and videos, and start testing! Google will use advanced machine learning techniques to your advantage.


Is it really that simple? Can you optimize these campaigns to increase online sales? Can this single campaign reach all your marketing objectives?

As a Google Premier Partner, our team has been testing Google Ads Performance Max campaigns since it was still in beta.

Let’s explore it in detail. There are a lot of ways to optimize this campaign type.

On which Google’s advertising channels will you show ads?

When you run Performance Max campaigns, your ads will be displayed on all Google channels:

Search, Shopping, Gmail, Display, YouTube, Maps, and Discovery.


Upgrade from Smart shopping campaigns.

Performance Max helps eCommerce retailers who have had success with Smart Shopping to take it to the next level by adding additional placements and reach. However, unlike Smart shopping, it can be used both for e-commerce sales and lead generation. You can use the data feed from your Google Merchant Center and even create a Performance Max campaign directly from it.

Quality of your text, video, and images

You need to provide a system with creative assets that are relevant for all these platforms. Make sure you prepare texts, images, logos, and videos for responsive ads. It’s like responsive display ads and responsive search ads combined.

For the Excellent Ad Strength, we recommend uploading a full list of required content in each asset group of the Performance Max campaign:


Our best practices:

  1. Create each group and focus specifically on product benefits, while avoiding general points to ensure that your Asset Groups have clear and specific themes.
  2. Use the Google Ads Ad Strength indicator in the panel above to determine if your creative Assets are really impacting performance.
  3. Update your performance max ads frequently. For best performance, we recommend always adding new assets for Holiday seasons or special events like Black Friday.
  4. After showing your ads for 2-3 weeks, use a performance label to evaluate the quality of your Assets. If you see “low”, it’s better to pause it and replace them.
  5. Add additional assets to your campaign to attract additional users. Having more assets (such as images, videos, and texts) allows for more ad formats to be created for different groups of users.
  6. To increase CTR, add all possible ad extensions.

Add audience signals

Audience Signals help to accelerate the campaign ramp-up period so that you can reach potential customers faster. This will improve google’s real-time understanding, thus increasing online sales.

This feature allows the advertiser to specify the audience for whom they believe the ads would be most effective. Audience signals are not the same as audience targets; rather, they provide suggestions. By using this information, Google can optimize your performance max based on your goals and maximize campaign performance.

Create a separate asset group for specific or similar Audience Signals to allow the Performance max campaign to show the correct combination of assets for the desired audience. You can create multiple asset groups with different destination URLs.

Add the following audience segments to provide the system with valuable business data:

● Remarketing lists

● Custom Audiences

● Customer Match

● Similar Audiences

● Relevant Interests

● Demographics


Currently, audience exclusions are not available in Performance Max.

Use final urls expansion

You can further fine-tune your ads by choosing other settings such as ad scheduling, end URL expansion, or campaign URL options.

Turning expansion ON allows replacing your Final URL with a more suitable landing page based on the user’s search query and purpose. You can also customize a dynamic ad caption to match the content of your landing page.

Negative keywords

Negative keywords are an essential part of every digital marketing strategy. They can dramatically increase lead quality. Make sure you check our article and already uploaded the Universal Negative Keyword Lists to your Google Ads account.

The ability to add negatives in Performance Max is limited. You need to make a request to the Google Ads Support team or contact us so we can request this for you.

Before contacting support, make sure you already prepared a list of negative keywords you want to apply. Make sure you excluded your brand terms as otherwise, Performance Max can cannibalize sales from your existing campaigns instead of scaling new customer acquisition.

Further, if you need to expand the list with new negative keywords, you can add them and they will be applied automatically (you don’t need to write to Google Ads support again).

So far, this feature does not work for separate asset groups, only at the campaign level.

Bidding strategies

Google Ads Performance Max campaigns have two smart bidding strategy options you can choose: ‘Maximize Conversion Value’ or ‘Maximize Conversions. Make sure you also import the conversion value, as it can significantly impact campaign performance. Also, make sure that your tracking works properly and have all conversion goals in place. You can simply import conversions from Google Analytics or set them up using Google Ads tracking code. This allows more data signals to reach optimal performance.

Make sure that Performance Max is mapped to the right business outcomes for conversion tracking, and optimize it with automated measurement solutions to maximize results:

● Utilize account-level goals similar to other performance campaigns. You can also select a combination of standard goals or group-specific conversions into custom goals if required.

● Set those conversion actions as Primary actions that are most important for your business and have a reasonable conversion volume. As a best practice, we recommend using Max Conv Value with the target (tROAS) when you have at least 15 conversions in the last 30 days.
Also, in case you launch a Performance Max campaign in the Ad account with no conversions data history, it may take longer to start getting conversions and scale the budget for this campaign.

● Use Data-Driven Attribution with your conversion actions to maximize the algorithm’s ability to find the optimal bid.


Avoid overlap with Search campaigns

How will Performance Max campaigns work with keyword-based search campaigns in your account?

  • Performance Max respects your keyword targeting and complements other campaigns.
  • Performance Max will not be prioritized over Search campaigns if the user’s query matches an eligible Search keyword of any match type in your other ad groups.
  • If the query is not identical to your active Search keyword, the campaign or ad with the highest Ad Rank that considers creative relevance and performance will be chosen.
  • You may notice that some existing keywords appear in Performance Max instead of the Search campaign because of certain ineligibility factors. Your Search keyword won’t be eligible to trigger an ad in case:
  1. The campaign is limited by budget.
  2. It has low search volume status.
  3. All ad creatives or landing pages for the ad group are disapproved. Not all campaign or ad group targeting options have been met.

Any Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) you work with in Europe may choose to participate in Performance Max campaigns, showing the ads on general search results pages as well as anywhere else the CSS has opted to display them.


  • Google Ads Performance Max can help you to increase online sales from Google Ads while simplifying optimization.
  • This one campaign type cannot replace all Google Ads campaigns and its proper maintenance still requires time and effort. In our agency, we stopped running display campaigns as well as discovery campaigns switching instead to Performance Max.
  • We still run multiple campaigns such as: dynamic search ads, RLSA, app campaigns, and regular search campaigns. If you have local campaigns, you may still want to run call only in addition to Performance Max as this will help you to reach new customers faster.
  • Before running this campaign make sure you have enough conversion value in your Google ads and your conversion goals are working properly.

Performance Max might conflict with your brand campaign, damaging reporting transparency.

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Article by Max

Senior Google Ads expert.

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