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What is a Google Ads Performance Max Campaign?

What is a Performance Max Campaign?

Published on
by Olivia Pasfield

Google Ads are slowly introducing a new type of campaign known as performance max. This new feature first became available to some Google Ads accounts in November 2021, and at this point has been rolled out to most accounts.

This new campaign type was introduced with the main objective being to generate companies more leads, converting customers and increase sales online.

This article will provide you with all the information you need to know about the new features a performance max campaign has to offer, including how it differs from the other campaigns within Google Ads.

How Are Performance Max Campaigns Different?

The main difference between performance max campaigns and other campaign types such as keyword based search campaigns, is the fact that Google automates various aspects of the campaign based off the information which is provided upon set up. These aspects include targeting, delivery and ad creation.

Even though this is an automated campaign type, it is still different to smart campaigns that Google Ads already offer. This is due to the fact that although it is an automated strategy, Google heavily relies on the assets which are provided by the advertiser, giving you more control. These assets include audience signals to help influence the targeting technology.

Performance max also gives you the ability to show these ads across all of Google’s advertising channels. However, you can not see any data based on specific advertising on each channel. For example, you won’t be able to see if Youtube is performing better than search because this kind of data isn’t reported. This aspect makes it a great option for small businesses that want to reach their business goals but are keeping their digital marketing in house and want a streamlined solution.

Performance max works with discovery campaigns, search campaigns and display campaigns.

What Aspects Can You Control With Performance Max Campaigns?

Once you have decided on the main objective of your campaign, this will depend on the marketing objectives you have, you will be able to set up some key settings. It is currently not an option to be able to use Google Ads editor when using performance max campaigns. This means these settings will have to be done for each individual campaign, as opposed to copying the overall structure.

The areas you can control are:

  • Budget and Bidding- When you are setting up your performance max campaign you will need to set a daily budget, as you would with any other campaign type. You can then choose which automated bidding strategy you would like to use out of max conversions, target CPA (cost per action), target ROAS (return on ad spend.)

  • Location- You can control the targeting location the same as you can with other campaigns in Google Ads. This includes advanced location settings. However, location options previously available have been removed, meaning you need to keep a close eye on custom reports to make sure you’re not wasting spend in countries you don’t want.

  • Ad schedule- You will then be able to control the times you would like your ads to run. For example, if you do not want your ads to run at the weekends you can change it at this stage.

  • Advanced URL- If you not choose a URL to at this stage, Google will choose its own to direct all your traffic to. This is normally defined by the URL which Google thinks is the best fit, however you do have the option to exclude any URLs you do not wish to send traffic to. For example, you may want to exclude your “About” page.

How Do You Set Up Ads With Performance Max?

With performance max campaigns the ad section is known as ‘asset groups.’ The reason why it is called an asset group is because it acts as an asset to all of the different Google platforms. Each asset group you create will act as an ad group.

Each individual campaign only allows for one set of targeting. This is so that your ads are automatically shown to users which are going to help you reach your conversion goals. This is done by the use of audience signals and by Google identifying searchers which show similar behaviour in order to get you more conversions and new customers.

Next you will be able to upload images, logos, and videos. At this point videos are optional, and must be uploaded to Youtube first to be used in your ads. You can upload up to 20 image variations, meaning if you upload one image but choose two aspect ratios for that image, it will be counted as two. It’s recommended to upload a good spread of images that cover all aspect ratios available, as this will allow Google to show display ads in more locations. Logos are also recommended, but not required.

If you don’t upload any videos, Google will automatically create a slideshow video with your images.

You then want to choose headlines and descriptions which you want Google to use when it generates ads for the general search results pages. These work in a similar way to responsive display ads with Google auto generating ad variants that they think will generate leads. They will also be used alongside your images for display formats.

Once you have provided Google with the headlines and descriptions you would like it to auto generate, you can then add in your ad extensions. This can be done by using any extensions which are already added at account level, or opting out of these and creating specific extensions for your performance max campaign.

Just like with a display or search campaign, it is best practise to create multiple asset groups in each single campaign.

If you are using lead generation, you can also use performance max alongside importing offline conversion goals. By providing information on online sales will provide the campaign with more data to allow the best performance.

Do Performance Max Campaigns Have Limits?

As with other Google smart campaigns, performance max campaigns do have some limits. One of the main limits is the lack of information given in regards to targeting, this is due to the fact that if you are getting online sales and store visits there is no way of knowing who they are.

As well as targeting there is no reporting on audience, keywords or demographics. This can make analysing campaign performance more tricky, therefore making it difficult to maximise campaign performance.

Remember all the different asset groups you created? Unfortunately you won’t be able to see which asset combinations are over or underperforming, or what is working well on what platform, as this data simply isn’t provided.

Another limitation of using performance max is the fact that you are unable to add exclusions. This means if you are using a click fraud protection service any IP exclusions can not be applied to campaigns in your Google Ads account using performance max.

Performance max campaigns also do not provide you with the search terms which are triggering your ads, this means you can not add negative keywords into the account in order to prevent them from being triggered by irrelevant terms.


To conclude, performance max campaigns offer the benefit of using automated bidding across all of Googles platforms in order to generate purchases and leads. Due to this it allows you to discover new audience segments to show your ads to potential customers. These campaign types are ideal for smaller businesses who want to keep their marketing in house, but want the ease of managing a smart campaign.

However as with smart shopping campaigns and other smart campaign types, there is very little data and control. This means it is very difficult to make optimisations based off of Google audiences, devices and other data which can help increase conversion values.

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