How to Create a Performance Max Campaign and Avoid Failure. Vital Learnings from Our Team

Published: 28 September 2022

Updated: 29 January 2024

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Vadim is a digital advertising expert @Viden with diverse marketing experience, focused on driving results and client growth for brands across Facebook Ads, TikTok Ads, Google Ads & more.
How to Create a Performance Max Campaign and Avoid Failure. Vital Learnings from Our Team

I know nothing about Performance Max. This is what many advertisers (even experienced) think after having a deal with a new Google goal-based campaign type that should help them drive more incredible results across all Google Ads channels from a single campaign. Having launched dozens of campaigns for various businesses, we understood that it might be challenging to understand Performance Max. But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom. Creating a Performance Max campaign is easier than you think. Just stick to the simple rules.

How to Create a Performance Max Campaign

  1. Know your numbers. Success is 90% preparation. Spend as much time as necessary to evaluate the business you are dealing with. Make sure that you have enough information about it. If you don’t, Google can sell you traffic repeatedly, which is risky. Return rate, lifetime value, average order value (AOV) — analyze these numbers thoroughly because they will play into your chosen approach and help in subsequent optimization.
  2. Number of campaigns and asset groups. Many say that it depends on your daily budget. If you are a small business or a careful player with a limited budget, it’s better to start small. But even for big companies with big budgets, we recommend starting with the simplest approach: one campaign plus one asset group. Too simplistic? Only at first glance, but this is the best practice. It will help you to get data back faster, and you will be able to optimize and expand your campaign, not blindly.Screenshot 1Be cautious about creating multiple Performance Max campaigns. There are cases when you can separate: advertising for different countries, languages, goals, and bidding strategies. For some clients, we create multiple campaigns to advertise products with different average order values. To find out if splitting is proper for you, get in touch with our team.
  3. Goals and bidding strategies. The goal of your Performance Max campaign depends on your business’s goals. If you already have different types of campaigns, use their goals and then evaluate them. Here’s a list of bidding strategies that work today:
    • Maximize conversion value. If you want to keep conversion volume high, go for this strategy. Especially if you have high AOV products, and they bring you the best results. Google will help you to prioritize these products and get the most out of every dollar you spend.
    • Maximize conversions. Use this option if there’s no big gap between your AOVs (you don’t have a $10 product and a $1,000 product), or your best results come from lower AOV products.

    Further reading:

    Learn with Google: the Best Practices to Follow Now to Feel Closer to Your Customers

    Increase Your ROI by Running Effectice Campaigns

    3 Marketing Tactics to Follow Now to Drive Better Results

  4. Audience signals. Consider your audiences carefully. Sometimes other components of the Performance Max campaign do not wield as much influence as this one. We should always have areas to expand. That is why simplicity is our everything. Start with first-party data: customers, subscribers, app users, website visitors, YouTube channel viewers, etc. Also, we always spend time collecting all possible keywords. The more relevant keywords you throw in, the smoother the learning process.
  5. Screenshot 2

  6. Ad creative
    • Images, logos, and videos. Google allows adding up to 20 images, up to five logos, and up to five videos. Use it to the fullest. Don’t put too much text on your creatives: one strong sentence strikes more effectively than long walls of text. Better focus on original style and colors to grab attention.
    • Headlines and descriptions. Five headlines, five long headlines, and five descriptions. It’s more than possible to come up with 15 strong points. Make them direct and punchy. Mention unique selling points to catch attention and make your business stand out.

      Remember: the Performance Max campaign shows your ads across Search, Display, Discovery, Video, Shopping, and Local platforms. Make sure your headlines and descriptions look awesome everywhere.

  7. Be patient to see the first results. This point requires a more detailed explanation. First, the Performance Max campaign needs around five days to complete the first learning phase. But don’t rush to make any changes after this step is over. Your campaign needs more time to optimize; the best you can do is leave it. Yes, leave the campaign for 3-4 weeks. Look at how our client’s campaign performed in the 1st week after launch. Target CPA was 170:

    Screenshot 3

    Are you already itching to make some changes? Hold on. Here are the results after week 2:

    Screenshot 4

    Algorithms have managed to reduce CPA by 46% in only one week. Not bad, right? Give Google time to find the right customers, and you will not regret it. Keep an eye on it so you don’t miss any deviation. Of course, sometimes you can sit without good results for 3-6 months. It might happen if it’s a new account with no historical data and low conversion volume, if you don’t advertise high AOV products or if you don’t spend enough.

  8. Initial budget. Google recommends setting an average daily budget of at least 3x your CPA or cost per conversion. You can start smaller and expand, but the best practice is to kick off with $100. Anything below can make you wait for any data for the entity.

How to Optimize a Performance Max Campaign

PMax is the ‘thing-in-itself.’ It doesn’t give you many opportunities to estimate it. But we found some life hacks.

  1. ‘Insights’ tab. Always start with ‘Insights.’ Consider it search terms from a ‘Search campaign.’ They help to find new audiences and build new assets based on them.
  2. Screenshot 5

  3. Listing groups. This is your ‘Shopping campaign’. Find best-selling products and evaluate how much you spend on this channel. If you notice that one product devours a significant portion of your budget, you can place it in a separate campaign.
  4. Screenshot 6

  5. Views. A hack that allows you at least one eye to look into a ‘Video campaign’. Go to All campaigns -> Campaigns -> Add ‘View’ and ‘View Rate’ columns. Now you can see whether your PMax campaign likes your videos and believes they can bring conversions or it focuses on something else.
  6. Screenshot 7

  7. Budget increase. When you start seeing good results, you can raise your daily budget little by little. 10-15% budget increase per day is a good pace.

Conclusion

PMax can be an excellent tool for eCommerce businesses. If you’re advertising on Google, consider testing it ASAP. Why? All approaches and life hacks we described in this article that are relevant at the time of writing are going to become outdated one day (most likely very-very soon). That’s why it’s vital to study Performance Max on the go. This is exactly what we do every day.

Finding a silver bullet strategy that suits every business is almost impossible. And the main reason for this is that all industries are different. They have a non-identical margin, lifetime value, repeat purchase rate, etc. Even if you find a tempting variant — be ready to adapt it. Maybe even 99%. Follow trends and stay tuned. It’s important. Really.

Now you’re an expert and can create your own Performance Max campaign, but know that our team will be happy to help you scale your business. Feel free to reach out through the form to discover collaboration opportunities.

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