Is Google’s Performance Max all it’s Hyped Up to Be?

4 min read

Since its launch in 2021, Google’s Performance Max (PMax) has received mixed reviews on its value to advertisers. PMax was created to be an all-in-one solution for advertisers, using Google’s AI to gauge when, where, and how to reach various users across Google’s Network based on your campaign’s goals. Since we like to do our own research, we decided to give PMax a try as part of our work with the Marion County Election Board to get Marion County voters to the polls on Election Day.

Here’s more on our experience with this Google  campaign type and our takeaways!

What is Performance Max?

Performance Max uses Google’s machine learning to automate ad placement and drive more conversions for the advertiser. The program has access to all of Google’s Networks and can place your ads across the various locations. It will ultimately choose which ad placement has the highest probability of accomplishing your campaign goals with your target audience. 

Performance Max can serve ads on:

  • Search
  • Display
  • YouTube
  • Discover 
  • Gmail
  • Maps

Using the assets you supply, PMax will mix and match to build ads that are most likely to resonate with your audience. It will use your audience signals as a starting point to adjust and calibrate ads and placement to accomplish your campaign goal.  

Case Study: Indy Votes

We started our Performance Max Campaign two months before 2024 Primary Election day here in Indiana, with the  goal of increasing traffic to the Indy Votes site. We fed the campaign “Indy Votes” imagery, headlines, and descriptions with key dates and general voting information. Our CTA encouraged users to “Learn More” by visiting the Indy Votes site. 

Our setup parameters included the following two focuses:

  • Marion County Residents 
  • Conversion Goal: Website Clicks

Here is how our campaign ultimately performed under the direction of Google’s machine learning.

Performance Max Campaign Performance
Performance Max Campaign Performance

We compared this performance with benchmark campaign performance across industries and found that our campaign’s CTR was 4% higher than average and our CPC of $0.31 was much lower than the average of $0.68.

Performance Max pushed the following combination of assets the most, due to high engagement.

Performance Max Google Ad Example

With access to all of Google’s Network, their AI chose the following placements for our campaign.

Performance Max Ad Placements

Our Takeaways: 

Once the votes were counted, these were our biggest takeaways from using this new software:. 

  • Performance Max is a great option for increasing awareness around a product, service, or idea, as it provides maximum placements to reach your target audience.
  • It’s important to be thoughtful with the assets you supply, as Performance Max will be combining them at random in different placements that may look different than you anticipated.
  • Be specific with your campaign goals to see the most success. Our campaign goal was broad by nature. However, we can see this campaign type being very effective in driving targeted conversions.
  • Performance Max is relatively less expensive for results than some of the other Google Ad campaign types. We were pleasantly surprised by the volume of traffic our campaign brought in while cost remained low.
  • The campaign’s assets were very easy to swap and update during the campaign’s duration. However, the goals can not be changed once the campaign is set. Make sure your goals are clear before you set up your campaign.
  • Not all that glitters is gold. We were disappointed with the limitations to reporting on the campaign. Users must build their own reports in Google Ads to find out information like top placements, gender, and age.  

Overall, we’re fans of Performance Max and believe it’s a great option to increase the reach of your campaign. However, we do recommend taking the time to review your PMax performance alongside your Google Analytics performance to make sure it is indeed working toward your goals. Google’s AI can make smart decisions for your campaign, but no AI is perfect, and a human eye is needed to catch mistakes.

Our team has pretty good mistake-catching eyes and a knack for high-performing digital ads across channels. If you’re ready to put Performance Max to work for you, get in touch.