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How To Optimize Performance Max Campaigns


As a marketer, you may be familiar with Performance Max, Google’s latest feature designed to enhance your advertising campaigns. If you’re not already using it, this post will help you understand its benefits and how to optimize your campaigns using this powerful tool. 

What Is Performance Max?

Performance Max is a powerful advertising tool offered by Google Ads that allows marketers to optimize their campaigns across multiple channels, including YouTube, Google Search, and Display.

It utilizes machine learning to automatically place ads where they are most likely to perform well, and can help improve campaign efficiency and drive better results. Overall, Performance Max is an innovative solution for marketers looking to maximize the impact of their advertising efforts.

And the best thing about it is that it works great for both ecommerce sales and lead generation strategies!

For instance, if you are an ecommerce business that needs to meet a goal of 300 sales per week while keeping a return on ad spend of 4, Performance Max is going to help you achieve this goal.

Conversely, if you are a lead generation business that needs to get 500 form submissions at a $40 spend per lead, Performance Max is going to crawl all of Google’s networks to find 500 people that will convert at that spend.

Now, what’s the catch? 

There’s none, unless you haven’t set up your Performance Max the right way or don’t know how to properly optimize it.

How to Set Up Your Performance Max Campaign for Success

The first step is to select a clear goal. Choose “Maximize conversions” for a lead gen strategy, and “Maximize conversion value” for ecommerce.

Only select one primary conversion action for your campaign to optimize for. Selecting more than one conversion action will most of the time confuse Performance Max and prevent it from getting you the results you are looking for.

Make 15+ asset groups that are very specific and directly related to your target market. It will take less time for your PMAX to figure out who your ideal customer is if you give it the right guidance.

The more asset groups you make, the better. Although, your budget will need to be adjusted depending on how many asset groups you have (more on this later).

If you have an ad spend budget that’s less than $2000 a month and are spending less than $40 a day on your Performance Max, your campaign might not exit the learning phase until a month and a half has passed. It will take Performance Max a good bit of time to go through all of your asset groups and figure out the kind of people who are going to convert.

So if your budget is $40 or less, I would not make more than 10 asset groups because it will take a long time for your campaign to properly optimize for the goal you selected.

You need to run Performance Max along with other campaign types. The more data your Google Ads account has from campaigns you have run in the past or are running currently, the better and faster it will run.

Most of the time Performance Max will outperform your search or display campaigns. But that doesn’t mean you should stop running search or display because doing so will actually help your Performance Max find the types of customers that are already converting in your other campaigns.

Always keep “url expansion” on unless there is a strong reason for not doing so.

This feature will select the landing page for you based on what step of the funnel the user is in. Google does a great job of selecting landing pages for users.

This benefits your business because you don’t always want to take a user to the “Shop now” page of your site if there is a page that has better chances of converting that user.

You need to have the ability to create lots of assets (imagery and video) because Performance Max will quickly run through all of your assets and when that happens, you will need to change them so that your audience doesn’t get tired of seeing the same ad. 

Select the right assets for the right audience. Always tailor your ad copy, scripts, imagery, and videos to exactly who you are targeting.

How to Optimize Your Performance Max Campaign

Now that you know how to properly set up Performance Max, let’s get started on how to efficiently and effectively optimize your Performance Max campaign. 

Before making any optimizations, you should wait for at least a month since you started the campaign for Google to give you more insight into what’s happening in your campaign.

After making the first optimizations, wait from two to three weeks until making any new changes.

Keep in mind that the less you touch your Performance Max campaign, the better. Google’s machine learning is already doing most of the work for you. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to make any edits.

Also, whenever you make any changes, it has to be in bulk. Don’t make little changes every day or week, but make all the changes you need to make at the same time and then wait two weeks until you make any new changes.

The first optimization you need to do is to review your assets’ performance in all asset groups that you’re running, and revamp these with new assets if the old ones have a low performance.

Go through every asset group that you have created, click on “View details” and look at each of your asset’s performance.

The view details option in performance max

Take a look at each of the ones that have a low performance and replace them with a new asset.

Each new asset should be tailored to the audience you are targeting. For instance, if you’re targeting people who are in the market for shoes, then your assets should be about shoes.

Assets should also feature benefits or unique selling points of the product or service you are offering and have a clear call to action that tells customers what to do. 

How to Use an Optimization Sheet for Performance Max

Use an optimization sheet to make your optimizations more efficiently. Keep in mind the more asset groups you have, the longer you are going to spend optimizing the campaign. So I recommend having a system in place that helps you optimize every asset group effectively.

Make a copy of this document and start going through all your asset groups, copying your low performing assets and pasting them into this sheet. 

I recommend doing this one asset group at a time, and separating your asset groups below the “ASSET GROUP” column by inserting a black row in between them.

Performance Max asset groups

Always type in for how long you tested these assets and when you made the optimization so that you are keeping track of the time between optimizations.

Extensions and Assets

Go to the “Extensions” section of your Performance Max campaign. This section is now called “Assets”. 

Make sure you have created sitelink, callout, structured snippet, and all other extensions your customer can benefit from looking at.

The purpose of these is to give your prospect more information about your business and help them get closer to what they want or need.

Extensions can increase click through rates by a lot and that’s why you need to start creating as many of them as you can.

Each extension type can be crucial in converting new prospects into customers.

If you have linked your Merchant Center account to your Google Ads account and are doing shopping ads in your Performance Max campaign, then you need to look at the “Products” section of the campaign and ensure all your products are ready to serve.

Hovering over the “Product Status” column will give you more information about why the product is disapproved in case your product got rejected.

Make sure all your products are meeting your ROAS thresholds, and if not, you can exclude them from the campaign or a certain asset group.


Go to the “Insights’ section of your Performance Max campaign, and look at your top audience segments and top search categories. 

This section will reveal who your customers are and what audience they belong to, which is a really powerful tool– if you are not taking advantage of this, then you’re doing it wrong!

If any of these top segments is not an audience signal, you can make a new asset group targeting it, thus narrowing down on your ideal target audience.

However, always take into account what kind of audience you are looking at. There are three types of audiences: affinity, in-market, and detailed demographics. If the audience you are looking at in this section is in-market, and has not been used before in your Performance Max, then you should totally make a new asset group with it.

Also, don’t forget to look at the search terms categories your ads are appearing on. This can give you some inspiration for new ad groups you can create in your search campaigns.

If you are getting conversions from a certain search category and you’re not targeting these keywords in any other campaign, then you should create a new campaign and create multiple ad groups targeting variants of these terms.

Using Keyword Insights From Your Competitors

Go to the “Auction Insights” below the “Insights” section in your Performance Max campaign. 

This section is often overlooked, but can give you great insight into your top competitors for the keywords you are bidding on.

Make a custom segment of people who go to your competitors’ sites and add it to your Performance Max as an asset group.

I always recommend making one custom segment per competitor and adding all of them as audience signals so that you can compare performance and results over time.

Location for Performance Max Campaigns

Make location targeting bid adjustments by going to your “Locations” section and increasing or decreasing bids depending on performance. 

If you are targeting the United States, I recommend doing state targeting, which means copying and pasting a list of all states in your campaign so you can monitor and compare performance across every state.

This will give you a ton of insightful information on where your top customers are physically located.

I don’t recommend bidding aggressively on locations. For instance, if a certain location is getting you a great return on ad spend and has a good conversion rate (1.5% or higher), I would increase its bids by 15% to 20%, not higher.

Look at your top converting landing pages as well as your worst performing landing pages to further understand your funnel and find out new opportunities for your business.

This tip might not be applicable to every business or product or service but it’s certainly worth taking a look at.

Performance Max Landing Page Reports

Go to “Reports”, click on “Predefined reports”, then click on “Other”, and “Performance Max campaigns placement”. This section can be difficult to find but is definitely worth it.

Performance Max reports

Now, the default report is going to show you your campaign placements, which is useful information as well, but there’s nothing we can do as marketers to control the placements. 

So you’re going to want to drag the “Placements” row out of the ros section and drag “Landing page” into it. Then, you’re going to want to drag the “Conversions” setting into the column section as shown in the screenshot above.

Then you will be able to sort by high to low and see your top landing pages.

You might find some landing pages you weren’t sending traffic to from ad campaigns that are getting a good number of conversions.

This can be an opportunity for you to make new ads or exclude certain landing pages that you see are not getting conversions or performing well for your business.

Testing Performance Max Asset Groups

Test different product/service focuses. If you are selling multiple products, you can take your best selling products and create asset groups specific to those products. Test these against asset groups with all products, and see which end up with the best results. 

If there are certain products that you see are performing really well, you can branch out and create new Performance Max campaigns just focusing on these specific products.

Performance Max: The Future of Machine Learning Advertising

Now you should have all the tools you need to effectively optimize your Performance Max campaign. It might look like a lot of steps, but it really starts to make sense and all come together once you’ve gone through it multiple times. 

So if I were you, I would click on every single section of your campaign and start getting familiar with the way Performance Max works because it is the future of machine learning advertising.

If you are still struggling with making the right optimizations or are not sure how to set up Performance Max for success, you can feel free to contact our team of paid media experts using the form below.

Jose (Pepe) Alcazar Camargo

Jose (Pepe) Alcazar Camargo

Pursuing his digital marketing passion, Pepe started working for Conklin Media on March 2020, as a paid media associate. He has since then become a specialist in managing, creating, and optimizing Facebook and Google ad campaigns as well as email marketing campaigns.


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