Performance Max – the black box of doom…. Or is it?!


Performance Max (Pmax) was first unveiled in Q4 2021, before replacing smart shopping in Q3 2022. It is more than a new shopping campaign type. It was released as Google’s easy answer to cross-channel marketing, leveraging their huge ad network and powerful machine learning to reach 90% of global internet users…

It is a one stop shop to buy Google ads across YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail and Maps using indicative audience targeting alongside a bid strategy.

Feedback has been mixed. Google claim that advertisers using Pmax see an average increase of 13% incremental sales at a similar cost per action. However, advertisers question the incrementality due to the lack of visibility (and control) on where your ads are shown and what is being shown.

So, is it a case of setting up a campaign, sitting back and sipping a coffee whilst Google does all the hard work for you?!

Sadly, even a Ferrari needs a good driver…

Pmax provides you with 2 key elements:

CampaignAssets (Think Ad Groups – kind of)
What can you do:
Implement Bid StrategyImplement Audience Signals
Implement BudgetUpload Creative (Text, Image & Video)
Add Negatives (Via Rep ATM)Link  Listing Groups (if a Shopping campaign)
See Insights (Search, Audience etc) 

At the moment reporting sits at campaign level but is currently being rolled out at asset level which will be a big step forward in giving us extra data insights to fuel our Pmax strategies.

How granular you want to approach your Pmax strategy depends on 2 key elements:

  1. How much budget you have.
  2. How  much data you have
    • In your account overall e.g. your historical conversion data
    • How many conversions you get a day e.g. how much data the machine has to play with.

We recommend starting with 1 Pmax campaign but utilising assets to learn what works for your brand. To get started, you may want one audience and one creative in 1 asset group.

This will allow you to test how pmax performs for your brand.

We would recommend moving to multiple campaigns if you need to:

  • Control visibility
  • Change bid strategy
  • Push budget into certain areas
  • See Insights

Once you have a good volume of data we would then implement a testing programme to truly find the sweet spots in pmax for you. Here are some ideas:

  1. Have 2 assets groups with different creative BUT the same audience signals.
    • This will help you evolve your creative strategy and test increasing CTR and conversion rate.
  2. Have 2 assets groups with different audiences BUT the same creative.
    • This will help you to understand how different audiences perform.
  3. Have multiple asset groups with different audiences and different creative that are linked.
    • This will help you to evolve your strategy and maximise relevancy.

As well as working your asset groups hard, you should also be optimising your pmax campaigns with basic hygiene tasks:

Look at search categories: what is driving conversion volume? What is driving impression volume?

Look at audience insights: which audiences are performing for you? Which segments are responding to your assets?

Look at location data: where are you being shown? Does this tally with normal performance?

Exclude your brand name.

Like anything, Performance Max can seem daunting but it’s the future and it is important to get on board and learn how you can add value and make it work for you sooner rather than later.

If you want to continue to be a PPC world champion, then you need to look under the hood of Performance Max and work out the levers you can pull to drive success for your brand. If you have any questions about how Pmax could work more effectively for you or your brand, feel free to reach out to Team HOP at

Scroll to Top