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What is Google Performance Max? Campaign Set Up + Best Results Tips

April 26, 2023 | Author:  Andrew Maff

In the fast-paced world of online advertising, staying ahead of the competition is essential. Performance Max is Google's latest advertising product designed to help advertisers reach their target audience most effectively. With a range of new features and best practices to master, Performance Max is quickly becoming the go-to platform for online advertising.

Some of the best practices for performance max and campaign setup are ad extensions such as sitelinks and callouts. Furthermore, choosing the appropriate bidding strategy and including many assets such as images, videos, headlines, and descriptions are also best practices. These practices will help increase visibility and engagement with potential customers and improve ad performance.

In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about Performance Max, including how it works and how to set up your campaigns for success. We'll cover best practices like using ad extensions and choosing the right bidding strategy. Furthermore, we will also discuss the pros and cons of using Performance Max.

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What is Performance Max and How Does it Work?

Performance Max is a relatively new addition to Google Ads accounts that offer an automated campaign structure to help businesses optimize their ad spend. It uses machine learning to analyze consumer trends and adjust ads accordingly to be displayed across Google's various channels. These include platforms like YouTube, Display, Search, Gmail, Shopping, Maps, and Discovery.

The idea behind Performance Max is to help businesses target the right audience on the channels they visit the most. To get started, specify your advertising goal and provide the necessary assets like images, videos, headlines, and descriptions.

Once your campaign is live, Google will use machine learning to generate ads across appropriate channels. This process also ensures your ads are served to the right people at the right time with the correct bid to optimize your goal. With this approach, performance max provides a streamlined and efficient way to advertise across multiple channels with just one campaign.

How to Setup Campaign for Performance Max?

In this step-by-step guide, we'll walk you through the process of setting up your Performance Max campaign:

Step 1: Create a New Campaign

The first step is to head to your Google Ads account and click the "New Campaign" button.

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Step 2: Choose a Campaign Goal

You'll be prompted to choose a campaign goal. For this example, we're going to choose "Sales," but you can select "Leads" or "Website Traffic" if that's more applicable to your campaign.

Step 3: Choose Your Conversion Goals

Next, choose the conversion goals for your campaign. Include phone calls, online purchases, or other actions you want users to take.

Step 4: Select Performance Max Campaign Type

When you select the campaign type selection, choose "Performance Max" and name your campaign.

google's advertising channels

Step 5: Set Your Budget and Bidding

For Performance Max campaigns, Google will automatically focus on "conversion value." You can set a target return on ad spending if you choose.

Step 6: Choose Your Campaign Settings

On the next page, you'll choose your campaign settings. This includes location targeting, language targeting, and the URLs you want to send traffic to. Here's a pro tip: exclude specific URLs from your site or send traffic to specific URLs.

Step 7: Create Ad Assets

Finally, on the ad asset page, you'll notice that the ad setup process looks completely different from setting up your standard search or display ads. You'll name each asset group and then set the following: images, videos, logos, headlines, descriptions, and the final URL.

It's essential to preview the ads under each ad type. If you don't create a video for YouTube Ads, Google will make one. It's best to put together even a quick, short 30-second clip so that you're in control of your ad inventory.

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Best Practices for Performance Max and Campaign Set Up

Performance Max campaigns are a great way to optimize your Google Ads campaigns and achieve your business goals. Following the best practices outlined below is essential to get the most out of your Performance Max campaigns.

1. Use Performance Max in Conjunction with Other Search Campaigns

One of the best practices for Performance Max is using it with other search campaigns. If the query matches a keyword you're bidding on, your search campaign will show its ad. However, if it doesn't match exactly, Google will show either the search ad or the 

Performance Max ad (whichever has the highest Ad Rank score). This way, you can maximize your ad reach and increase your chances of getting conversions.

2. Choose the Right Bidding Strategy

Selecting the right bidding strategy that aligns with your business goals is crucial. If you want to get the most conversions possible, use the "Maximize Conversions" strategy. On the other hand, if you value specific conversions more than others, such as leads over phone calls, use the "Maximize Conversion Value" strategy.

3. Optimize Your Audience Signals

By using data such as Customer Match/Audience lists or Audience Signals, Google can quickly discover new audiences to target through machine learning. Make sure you optimize your audience signals to reach the right target audience and improve your campaign's performance.keyword based search campaigns

4. Use Final URL Expansion

Use "Final URL Expansion" to customize ads based on audience queries, even if not bidding on keywords. Google chooses the best landing page and generates dynamic headlines and descriptions. To control which pages Google determines, use "URL Exclusion" to restrict specific URLs.

5. Add as Many Assets as You Can

One of the best practices for Performance Max is to supply as many assets as possible. Upload as many headlines, descriptions, target signals, match lists, high-quality videos, and photos as feasible. This will give Google more options when optimizing your Performance Max campaign. 

Ensure you have at least five versions of text and image assets to contribute to a higher ad strength.

6. Keep Your Visual Content Fresh and Relevant

Visual content is essential to connect with your users and capture their attention. Keep your content fresh and upload new, highly relevant assets regularly. Additionally, pay attention to how well your investments are performing and replace the ones that aren't performing well.

7. Optimize Your Asset Groups

If you're targeting multiple products, try focusing on only one for each asset group so it can be as personalized as possible. You can have a maximum of 100 asset groups per campaign. However, ensure you have enough budget, as the more asset groups you have, the more you'll need.

8. Use Campaign Exclusions

Using campaign exclusions is another best practice for Performance Max. This way, you can exclude irrelevant groups, placements, and keywords, improving ad spend efficiency and ROI.

9. Ensure Your Data Feed is Up to Scratch

It's crucial to ensure that your data feed is up to scratch to optimize your campaign performance. Ensure your data feed is comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date, and review it regularly to ensure it's optimized.

10. Commit to Your Campaigns

Finally, commit to your campaigns and keep them running for at least six weeks. This way, Google will have enough time to learn your strategies

Pros and Cons

Performance Max can be a valuable tool for businesses looking to improve their ad performance. However, it also has its drawbacks. This section will discuss the benefits and disadvantages of using performance max to help you determine if it is right for your business.


  • Easier Optimization: Performance Max automatically adjusts your budget and bids across all of Google's advertising platforms to boost online leads and conversions. You only need to set your budget, goals, and conversions to measure, and Google's machine-learning technology does the rest.
  • Increased Reach: Performance Max offers greater potential for increased reach by showing your ads across Google's entire network.
  • New Audience Segments: Performance Max provides access to new audience segments using the search engine's real-time understanding of consumer intent, preferences, and behavioral characteristics across all channels.
  • Time-Saving: With Google running your campaigns, you have more time for other tasks.
  • Creative Ads: Performance Max creates different combinations of your assets for each campaign, resulting in unique and innovative ads.


  • Limited Campaign Visibility: There needs to be more visibility into how the budget is distributed among different channels or types of visitors. This can create uncertainty for advertisers, as they may achieve great results without understanding why or experience a sudden decline in performance without any explanation.
  • Ad Cannibalization: Performance Max can cannibalize some of your other campaigns and claim credit for their excellent results without proper monitoring. This makes it difficult to measure the actual value Performance Max brings.
  • Poor Visibility on Search Terms and Locations: Performance Max offers more information on campaign triggers than Smart Shopping. However, its level of detail still needs to be higher than Standard Shopping campaigns.

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In Summary

Performance Max can help companies optimize their ads, reach new audiences, save time, and create creative ads. However, it has drawbacks like poor search terms and location visibility, ad cannibalization, and limited campaign success visibility. Before using Performance Max, companies should consider their goals, resources, and the tool's pros and cons.

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