Performance Max campaign setup issues

Our guided troubleshooter can help you identify, explain, and address potential causes of unexpected fluctuations in your Performance Max campaign spending.
 

If your Performance Max campaign isn’t performing as expected, it may be due to specific problems with your targeting, conversion tracking, or campaign settings. This article will help you troubleshoot your campaign in the following scenarios:

Before you begin

You can create Performance Max campaigns to advertise with little setup or creative input. These goal-based campaigns use Google AI and experimentation to successfully meet your objectives and optimize performance on channels such as Discover feed, Display, Gmail, Google Maps, Google partner websites, Google Search, and YouTube. Learn more about how to Create a Performance Max campaign

When it’s time to review a campaign’s performance, keep the following in mind:

  • Change takes time: To receive accurate results, wait for a short period (at least 2-3 days) after you’ve made changes to your campaign before analyzing the results.
  • Review the right metrics: When you use any Smart Bidding bid strategies, you should confirm that your success metrics match the goals of your campaign.
    • Example: If a Performance Max campaign uses the “Maximize conversion value” bid strategy (with tROAS set), you should review the “conversion value/cost (Actual ROAS)” and “conversion volume” metrics instead of unrelated metrics like clicks and impressions.
    • Learn more about how to Pick the right bid strategy.
    • Learn more about Smart Bidding bid strategies.
    • Learn more About automated bidding.

Instructions

Steps to troubleshoot errors during campaign setup

  1. Check the asset group setup and determine if any limits have been exceeded.
    • Learn more about how to Build an asset group.
    • Example: 16 headlines have been added but the campaign has a limit of 15 headlines.
  2. For advertisers with a Merchant Center feed attached, ensure the Final URL matches the one attached in the Merchant Center.
    • The URLs must match in order for the Performance Max campaign to be created.
Note: If Final URL expansion is on, Google may replace your Final URL with a more relevant landing page based on the user’s search query, and generate a dynamic headline, description, and additional assets to match your landing page content. Learn more About automatically created assets.

Steps to troubleshoot other campaign serving issues

Note: The instructions below are part of the new design for the Google Ads user experience. To use the previous design, click the "Appearance" icon, and select Use previous design. If you're using the previous version of Google Ads, review the Quick reference map or use the Search bar in the top navigation panel of Google Ads to find the page you’re searching for.

Campaign is serving on unexpected or unsuitable landing pages

If you've noticed your ads are serving landing pages that you didn’t intend for the campaign, this may be because Final URL Expansion is turned on. When Final URL expansion is on, Google dynamically generates a headline, description, and other assets to match user search intent. Learn more about Final URL expansion with Performance Max

If you don’t want Google to select alternate landing pages, you can opt out of the Final URL expansion feature by following the steps below:

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Campaigns icon Campaigns Icon.
  2. Click the Campaigns drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click Campaigns.
  4. Click the Settings tab.
  5. Choose the Performance Max campaign that you want to edit.
  6. Under “Additional settings”, expand the “Final URL expansion” section.
  7. Choose to turn it off.
  8. Click Save.

Campaign is serving unintended assets

If you've noticed your ads are serving unintended assets, it may be because Final URL Expansion is turned on. When Final URL expansion is on, Google dynamically generates a headline, description, and other assets to match user search intent. Learn more about Final URL expansion with Performance Max.

If you don’t want Google to select alternate landing pages, you can opt out of the Final URL expansion feature by following the steps below:

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Campaigns icon Campaigns Icon.
  2. Click the Campaigns drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click Campaigns.
  4. Click the Settings tab.
  5. Choose the Performance Max campaign that you want to edit.
  6. Under “Additional settings”, expand the “Final URL expansion” section.
  7. Choose to turn it off.
  8. Click Save.

Ads serving on irrelevant or undesirable placements

With placement exclusions, you can exclude your ads from serving on placements for specific pages, sites, mobile apps, and videos where you don't want your ads to show. This feature may negatively impact your campaign’s performance as it limits serving, and should only be used for brand safety purposes. In particular, you might exclude websites and mobile apps that aren’t appropriate for your brand. Performance Max campaigns will respect all account-level and MCC-level placement exclusions. Campaign-level placement exclusions aren’t yet available. Learn more about how to Exclude placements at the account level.

Ads serving in unintended locations

There are 2 types of location targeting in Performance Max campaigns:

  • Presence or interest: People in your targeted locations, or people who are regularly in your targeted locations, or who’ve shown interest in your targeted locations (Recommended)
  • Presence: People in your targeted locations, or people who are regularly in your targeted locations

After your campaign is live, you can view the locations of users being served ads both on the “Overview” page map view and by clicking the “Locations” tab. It’s expected to receive some traffic from outside the specific targeted locations.

Example: If a campaign targets users in the United States based on "Presence", it will show ads only to users located in the United States. If a campaign targets users in the United States based on "Presence or interest", it will show ads to both users located in the United States and those who have expressed interest in the United States.

If you notice unwanted serving from non-targeted locations, you may add these locations as exclusions.

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Campaigns icon Campaigns Icon.
  2. Click the Audiences, keywords, and content drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click Locations.
  4. Click the “Exclusions” tab.
  5. Click Edit locations or pencil icon to add a location to exclude.
  6. Enter a location to exclude and click Save.

Check account-level placement exclusion lists in sub-accounts (within MCC)

  1. In your manager account from the page menu on the left, click Settings, then click Sub-account settings.
  2. Make sure the “Applied placement exclusion lists” is visible in the table. If it’s not, click the “Columns” iconA picture of the Google Ads columns icon to add it.
  3. Under the “Applied placement exclusion lists” column for the campaign you’re checking,
    • A dash will show if exclusion lists aren’t applied.
    • A list name will show if exclusion lists are applied.

Check account-level placement exclusion lists in sub-accounts (within a sub-account)

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Campaigns icon Campaigns Icon.
  2. Click the Audiences, keywords, and content drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click Content.
  4. From the drop-down menu, click Placement exclusions.
  5. Click Add filter, then select Level.
  6. Check the box next to the accounts you want to view campaigns for.
  7. Click Apply.

Steps to troubleshoot campaigns with a Merchant Center feed

For advertisers upgrading to Performance Max from Shopping campaigns:

  • Automatically created assets can’t be used with Shopping Ads.
  • Performance Max campaigns will be prioritized over existing Shopping campaigns that run the same products in the same Google Ads account, so when you start to run Performance Max, spend in those Shopping campaigns may decrease (even if Performance Max has a lower budget than the Shopping campaigns) and Performance Max will ramp up in its place.
  • To minimize performance impact, we recommend that advertisers set similar budgets for Performance Max as their existing Shopping campaigns for the same products.
  • Your Performance Max campaign may take 2 to 3 days to ramp up. After your Performance Max campaign is up and running, you should pause your Shopping campaign. If your Shopping campaign and Performance Max campaigns continue to run at the same time, the Shopping campaign may continue spending on some surfaces and not allow Performance Max to optimize fully.

Most traffic coming from a single asset group:

  • When setting up asset groups for your retail Performance Max campaign, ideally, you shouldn’t have an overlap in products targeted between asset groups (for example, Asset Group 1 and Asset Group 2 shouldn’t target both Products A to Z ; Asset Group 1 should only target Products A to L and Asset Group 2 should only target Products M to Z).

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