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Google's Performance Max campaign: what is it and should your brand use it

Written by Natalie Ng

In this digital age, marketers are moving away from traditional methods to automated solutions when it comes to executing paid advertising campaigns. This has allowed campaigns to be more targeted and cost-efficient. However, with the technology still being developed, it can cause advertisers to be confused about what it is and what it can do. As Google has recently released a new type of Google Ads campaign called Performance Max, it begs the question, what are its benefits and when should it be used.  


According to Google, Performance Max (PMax) is an automated and goal-based campaign that lets advertisers access all their Google Ads inventory from a single campaign. Introduced at Google Marketing Live in 2021, its primary objective is to generate leads, in addition to driving online sales and in-store visits without using the Google Merchant Center product feed. PMax also compliments other keyword-based search campaigns so advertisers can gain more conversions through Google’s other channels, including Search, Display, Maps, Gmail, YouTube and more.  

Similar to Smart Shopping campaigns, PMax optimises real-time ad performance using Smart Bidding, which is Google’s AI-driven automated bidding. Advertisers only need to upload the appropriate assets such as images, text, or video, with Google’s machine learning taking care of the rest to find the best combination for a particular campaign.  

As of the time of posting, all Smart Shopping campaigns have been replaced with PMax.  


On average, there are over 500 touchpoints for each customer journey. This makes it difficult to forecast and optimise each customer and their journey via manual control. Thus, machine learning and automation is the key to success. PMax mainly relies on machine learning and audience signal, it is highly recommended that campaigns should run on historical or already established accounts. This is because Google requires a minimum of 15 conversions made in the last 30 days for machine learning to work optimally. More conversions are better – sometimes an account may need 50 to 100 of them for PMax to end up outperforming manual methods.  

Performance Max campaigns also work best when companies already have specific advertising and conversion goals in mind, such as lead generation or driving online sales. If advertisers want to maximize their campaign’s performance, PMax is a fantastic way to do so, as they will not be limited on which channels ads can appear.  

Advertisers should further ensure that conversion tracking is set up and tested before executing PMax campaigns. MediaGroup also suggests setting micro-conversions such as add to cart, view favourite, or subscribe to our newsletter, which allows advertisers a way to differentiate between various user behaviours.  

As such, this can be a great option for in-house advertisers, as well as small businesses that do not have enough in-house manpower and expertise when it comes to running campaigns. 


There are a few benefits when it comes to using PMax campaigns.  

Machine learning can be used to make accurate predictions regarding what kind of ad, audiences, and other combinations work best. Google Ads automation will then help to find potential consumers for your business objectives, alongside displaying the appropriate ad and optimal bid to maximise performance for your campaigns. Machine learning models can further be used to optimize placements and bids to boost conversions, as the algorithms can track how people respond to ads and that of competitors.

By implementing these types of campaigns for our international clients, we see significant improvements in CPC, CPL and ROAS metrics.

All existing audience segments can be leveraged using automated targeting to help reach your goals. PMax is also compatible with different audience signals including:

  • Your first-party data such as Remarketing and Customer match list  
  • Custom Segment 
  • Google Affinity / In-market Audience 
  • Demographics 
  • Similar Segment

Building audience signals tells Google which audiences you think will resonate most with your PMax campaign.

However, it is important to remember that despite how powerful machine learning can be, there is still a long way to go before it can completely replace people. Sometimes, if the AI gets confused with the assets it receives, it might end up publishing content that does not make sense, which could alienate audiences and cost your business customers. To avoid this particular issue, the copy and visuals must meet your business objectives, as well as be easy for audiences to understand.  

It is always wise to manually double-check your ads before publishing, as well as monitor and review them when the campaign has been executed.  


  1. Update your assets frequently if there are changes to your business 
  2. Use more than 4 extensions including video assets 
  3. Include as many assets (such as texts or images) as possible 
  4. Upgrade your Ad strength to “Good” or “Excellent” 
  5. Keep an eye on your campaign’s approval status  


Some people might also wonder if they should stop running other search campaigns. This is because having single-campaign optimisation across all Google channels means you cannot see channel-specific performances. 

In essence, you cannot be sure whether a campaign is cannibalising others. However, it is recommended that people run PMax alongside core campaigns, more specifically keyword-based search campaigns. Although some people may have concerns that having both campaigns will lead them to internally compete, Google claims that across different CIDS and Google ads, the campaign with the highest probability of driving better performance will be executed. As such, they won’t self-compete. This is due to Google’s machine learning algorithm needing information for PMax targeting to be effective. If you pause the search campaign, you will only end up jeopardising your campaign’s reach and performance because PMax does not use keywords the way search does.  


Overall, using Performance Max could benefit your business greatly, as its automated nature means that you receive the best, most up-to-date information regarding your ad campaigns and performance. However, as it is still so new, it cannot fully replace traditional hands-on methods yet.

As a digital marketing agency, MediaGroup Worldwide approaches PPC campaigns in a holistic manner. As such, this makes our results accurate and tailored to our client’s needs. For those who want to learn more about our services, especially regarding using PMax campaigns, contact us here

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Natalie Ng

Head of Asia & PPC

Based in Hong Kong, Natalie leads our PPC international team. Before MediaGroup, Natalie worked in various digital agencies in the UK and Hong Kong. Natalie holds an MA from the University of Warwick in Electronic Business Management. Her experience working and studying abroad has prepared her to lead a multi-national team of PPC experts.

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