The Ultimate Performance Max Guide Regarding the Best Practices and Tactics for 2024

It’s time to discuss strategies for running successful Performance Max campaigns this year. Topics to be discussed include campaign structure, creative, budgeting, and conversion tracking.


Performance Max came to market at a time when testing and sentiment regarding visuals was still new and relatively unregulated. Some marketers and business owners loved the idea of accessing more visual inventory without creating a separate marketing budget. Other marketers were upset at the loss of control and reporting that Performance Max seemed to bring.


However, Performance Max has been in use for more than a few years now. That has allowed advertisers and marketers to adjust to its workflow and campaign structure norms. But, no one can agree on the rules of engagement that should always be used and the ones that should only be used for specific campaigns.


This blog post will discuss every aspect of Performance Max campaigns and the documented best practices and innovative trends that should be explored.


How Effective is Performance Max With Data, Sales, and More?

Many marketers have debated Performance Max’score strategic value. For some marketers, it’s the perfect tool for moving leads down sales funnels. The reason is that it emphasizes the promotion of visual content like YouTube and Google Display videos and other video content. Other marketers think it is a lower funnel tool though. According to them, it can even ‘steal’ branded queries.


The truth about Performance Max’s performance lies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Also, your campaigns will be more successful if you set them up as intended through Performance Max. For example, expect average results if you resort to using its default settings, and limited creative features. The reason is that all channels can deliver average results across all parts of the sales funnel if you don’t try to be creative. Also, Ad networks like Google and Microsoft have data, but they will produce less than stellar results if you aren’t creative and don’t put effort into your ad campaigns.


You can replace Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) with Performance Max’s URL expansion function. Just keep in mind that the search term data may be more confusing and obscured. It’s also possible to get false positives and negatives stemming from placement type by doing that since Performance Max often goes beyond search parameters.


Performance Max was designed to work with traditional campaigns. So, it represents transactional intent. You should exclude some common elements of traditional campaigns if you don’t want branded traffic or existing users. You can do that through the form or by adjusting the UI campaign settings.


Structure:  Should You Focus on a Single Campaign or Numerous Campaigns?

The decision to incorporate Performance Max into your campaigns mainly depends on how you structure them. Ask yourself if it would help you to be served by up to 100 asset groups per campaign. There is no clear cut answer to that question since you do benefit from doing so, but there are also some disadvantages.

Median ROAS Across 18,542 Campaigns

 We can conclude from an analysis of the data that marketers commonly use one asset group with one campaign. Unfortunately, that appears to be the least effective way to utilize Performance Max (you will get the same results regardless of using Google or Microsoft.)


You can run successful campaigns using this method. However, these results generally stem from testing the ad type against its strategy. You likely will need to rely on one of the other three ad structures if you want to see real results quickly. Of course, the exception is if you work in a super niche that sells a single brand in a single market.

Majority Of Advertisers Run One Campaign, One Asset Group

One Campaign/Multiple Asset Groups

You only have one budget with a single campaign. That is a wonderful approach to use if you’re selling brands but have a limited budget and need data-rich campaigns to avoid prolonged and costly learning through trial and error.


However, you should remember that you can't allocate as many financial resources to individual asset groups when they shares single budget. You get much better results when you allocate numerous budgets to one or more asset groups. So, you need to use the following criteria to evaluate asset groups and only deploy those that meet the criteria:

●    Auction prices are similar - make sure that your budgets are balanced in terms of allocation.

●    Sync location and Ad schedules- make sure that you have a limited number of demographic parameters if you are running a campaign in many time zones. You run the risk of skewing campaign data if you don’t.

●    Make sure all conversion actions are the same - it’s acceptable to have different conversion values in e-commerce, but the actions should be standardized. You’ll likely need to split campaigns if you want some conversion actions to account for only certain asset groups.


You should use the single campaign/multiple asset groups model if you are selling brands in a single major market or with a single substantial offering. The reason is that the asset groups will compensate for the ways in which prospects and customers engage with the brands. It’s also easy to ramp the brands up quickly.


The model doesn’t work as well with brands having numerous locations or service categories though.


Numerous Campaigns/One Asset Group

You can devote a budget to many products, services, or personas based on their ROI potential. The catch is that you must create a different budget for each brand or persona. You may find yourself spending lots of money quickly - it depends on your business model. You also run the risk of spreading yourself too thin. In that instance, you may not generated sufficient conversions for Performance Max to be of any use.


According to many studies, you need at least 30monthly conversions for Performance Max to be reliable.


You must consider two factors with the numerous campaigns/one asset group model:

●    Does each campaign have dramatically different margins? - you can set meaningful budgets if each campaign has large variances in profit margins and revenue streams.

●    Can you meet conversion thresholds? - low conversions may cause Performance Max to not work as well.


You need to have a budget of at least $1,500 month for Performance Max to work as intended.


Multiple campaigns/Multiple asset groups

You may think that this would be the ideal way Torun a campaign. However, the reality is that it’s best only under certain circumstances. The reason is  hat marketers and  advertisers run the risk of aligning many asset groups with numerous campaigns.


There are some instances when this model is ideal. Let’s illustrate them now:

●    Do you have enough campaign volume to justify the structure? - sufficient campaign volume will justify the larger spends.

●    Understand the purpose of each of your asset groups - you need to be able to justify the purpose of each asset group. It’s best to merge it with another asset group if you can’t.


The multiple campaigns/multiple asset groups method works best when you have a budget and many inventory/service areas. Great examples are automotive, travel, and e-commerce. You should deploy the ingle campaign/multiple asset groups method otherwise.


Final thoughts on campaigns/asset groups

Performance Max allows you to create up to 100asset groups. But you should not do that unless absolutely necessary. Performance Max has different targeting criteria than other platforms. So, it would be wise for you to focus on parameters like location, time, and budget when setting and analyzing campaigns.


Creative: Feed, Video, and AI

Traditional PPC advertisers aren’t happy with the little control that Performance Max offers them. Their common complaint is that they can’t control how creative will be applied to their campaigns once created. Perhaps that’s why feed-only Performance Max was successful. It theoretically allowed advertisers the ability to display only those ads IN their shopping feeds.


However, many Ad networks strongly criticized this feature. That didn’t stop many from continuing to use the feed-only Performance Max platform.


An analysis of the data reveals that feed-only and mixed assets didn’t have much of a variance. Advertisers just have issues with text ads in an era when visuals and video ads are rapidly becoming popular.

Median Asset Type

 For 7100 ad accounts.


Videos are still heavily preferred in ads, so Google and Microsoft are turning to AI to produce stunning and lifelike videos. The issue is that AI videos won’t work for every enterprise. So, enterprises are increasingly being forced to:

●    Buy the creative resources needed to make acceptable visual content.

●    Educating the teams and stakeholders on the importance of human-generated video content in-house.

●    Not getting placed properly by Performance Max because of a lack of videos and visual content.


Should Advertisers Suddenly be Flocking to AI?

Well, it depends on the situation and circumstance, honestly speaking. Generally speaking ,advertisers will benefit from AI text and video content. They must know how to use AI when proofreading the text and editing the videos though.


Advertisers should also consider the following when debating whether or not to use AI:

●    Are they even allowed to use AI?

●    Are they pressed for time and talent? If they are, then AI makes sense. AI makes no sense if they have adequate time and resources to create human content in-house though.


Advertisers can also use AI to enhance existing work. They just need to run that work by all stakeholders for final approval.


Final Thoughts on Campaigns/Asset Groups

While you can run up to 100 asset/campaign groups through Performance Max, it’s best if you run the number of groups that will be most cost-effective for your enterprise. Performance Max targets asset groups in much different ways from other campaign products. That means you need to take your campaign location, run time, and budget into consideration when setting campaign parameters through Performance Max.


Creative: Feed, Video, and AI

Traditional PPC advertisers bemoan the fact that while they can add a creative to their Performance Max campaigns, they have no control over it once it has been added. Perhaps this is a key reason why feed-only Performance Max shot up in popularity so quickly. Theoretically, you can only run ads based on your shopping/site feed with the feed-only version.


Many still use the feed-only version despite the controversy surrounding it.


The latest data revealed that the feed-only and mixed asset versions of Performance Max were virtually the same.


Median Assets Type


Many advertising campaigns rely on visuals when using Performance Max. Both Microsoft and Google have addressed this by using AI-generated images to help advertisers meet their ever-growing needs for visuals.


But AI-generated images aren’t for every brand. So, these advertisers are resorting to one or more of three measures:

●    Procuring or purchasing the resources needed to create the visual content that other teams and brands will approve of.

●    Working with the teams and clients to help them understand that the majority of AI-driven content is generated from their existing visual assets. That means they understand that the Ad network is generated from pre-approved content.

●    Not getting Performance Max placements in the first place because of badly generated content.


Is AI Right for Your Advertising Campaigns?

There is no clear-cut answer to that question because it depends on many factors. While AI tends to help companies, they have to know how to use it to their advantage. You need to know if the end customer wants you to use AI. you can use it if the end customer is okay with it. Otherwise, you must use human-generated content.


AI is also useful if you are short of manpower or time.


URL Expansion and Automated Assets

Generative AI and auto-created assets/URL expansion aren’t the same. Auto-created assets use existing assets and add a twist to them. They help create missing assets in your asset groups. Microsoft and Google will crawl your site and create ads and budget spends based on other relevant pages across the Net. This is essentially DSAs.


There are four factors to consider if you’re going to use these types of creative add-ons:

●    Don’t do URL expansion if you don’t have an exclusion list. That’s especially crucial if you have an optimized site that occupies a high SERP. In that case, you wouldn’t want Performance Max to include your indexed and followed pages in its campaigns.

●    You can only do URL expansion if you have super-segmented asset groups.

●    AI-generated assets lack human ingenuity and creativity. So, don’t use AI if you need a creative ad campaign.

●    Don’t use AI if you hate the assets that it creates.


How Should You Create Your Budget?

You have the option of borrowing, spending, or investing more when you create your budget. You need to create a budget that will let you cover at least 10 clicks/day though. Your budget must be able to generate at least 1 conversion daily as well.


When To Borrow

You can borrow when you find that your current spend isn’t generating the conversions you want, or it isn’t generating the new conversions that you want. However, you will need to stick to Performance Max as the primary driver of ad campaigns until they can generate the conversions that you want and need.


You will want to keep control over the frequency and timing of your campaigns if you are running visual campaigns. You want to test your campaigns and wait for the results if you’re running broad campaigns through Performance Max.


When To Invest More

You can invest more when one or more of the following apply to your Performance Max campaigns:

●    You can and should test potential exact-match keyword concepts before adding them to your campaigns.

●    Performance Max campaigns tend to be more accurate than human-generated ones. That helps it generate substantially more (18%) conversions.

●    Include a buffer in your budget for tests.


How Many Conversions Tracking Do You Need, and Are You Cannibalizing When Doing Them?

You need to meet certain conversion thresholds before using Performance Max because it only runs on minimum and maximum conversion values. There are certain ways that audience and customer lists behave in Performance Max, and you need to understand all of them before using it:

●    Audiences Signal Mechanisms -Remember that audience signals are different from audience targeting. All audience signals can do is help Google and Microsoft identify the most powerful audience target groups. Audience signals are useful in showing you the number of websites that were visited or shown interest in. They can also help within-market and life events and general demographics.


Keeping Branded Out Of Performance Max

There is good justification for doing that. Branded traffic is more cost-effective and has a higher conversion rate. It also has a strategic budget assigned to it. You want to segregate it from non-branded traffic for these reasons and because doing so can skew search engine results.


Including Branded in Performance Max

You can include all stages of the customer journey in your Performance Max campaigns. You’ll need to stop all branded campaigns because these will cannibalize your larger campaigns.


Final Note

While there is no one right answer for using Performance Max because every brand is different, you should use the multi-campaign approach when marketing larger brands. Incorporating visuals in your campaigns will give them that competitive edge, and consolidating your data structure works best when you don’t have access to adequate data.