What’s new in Performance Max campaigns

February 23, 2023

Since Performance Max's initial launch, you’ve been asking for a few key features that are now available, with several more coming soon! This includes experiments to measure incrementality and more steering levers to guide and optimize your campaigns. Here’s a quick recap, including best practices for success.

Optimize your results from Search inventory in Performance Max

How can you drive better results in your account? Together, AI-powered Search and Performance Max are the Ads Power Pairing to help you maximize conversions across all of Google. Supercharge your Search campaigns by combining broad match keywords with Smart Bidding. Performance Max expands on this to help you drive incremental conversions across all Google advertising channels—including Search. Using improved keywordless AI technology, it analyzes your landing page content, assets and product feed (if you have one) to find new converting queries and generate relevant text ads that match a user’s intent. These are additive search opportunities—on top of unlocking additional performance on YouTube, Display, Discover, Gmail and Maps. 


Table with text: Search + Performance Max multiplies results and ROI across Google Ads
Search and Performance Max are the Ads Power Pairing


New features will help you further improve results from Search inventory in Performance Max: 

  • Account-level negative keywords: Add negative keywords at the account level to help you maintain brand suitability and exclude traffic you don’t want to reach. You can also use them to exclude queries for other brands’ terms if you have a specific agreement with them. These account-level negative keywords apply to all your campaigns that serve on Search and Shopping inventory, except Discovery campaigns. This includes your Performance Max campaigns to make it easier to add negative keywords without having to apply them to individual campaigns. 


Watch out for how exclusions impact your reach and performance to make sure you’re not missing out on valuable conversion opportunities. Keep in mind, Google already works to block ads from serving on search queries related to sensitive topics like strong profanity or violence.


  • Campaign-level brand exclusions: Control which brands your campaign matches to—including your own brand—with campaign-level brand exclusions that are coming soon. Brand exclusions apply to Search and Shopping traffic in Performance Max. You can apply different exclusions for each Performance Max campaign or use shared lists across multiple Performance Max campaigns. You’ll be able to find brand names in the UI and add them to the exclusion list. 


If you don’t see certain brands listed, you’ll also be able to submit requests for brands to be added within Google Ads.


Unlike negative keywords, these exclusions will help block traffic with clear misspellings or writing in foreign scripts of the brands you exclude. Also, traffic that mentions the words in a brand name will only be blocked if they clearly refer to the brand. For example, excluding a browser brand named “Chrome” will not exclude the search “chrome exhaust tips”, since the word “chrome” in the latter search doesn’t refer to a brand.


Screenshot of brand exclusions in the Google Ads UI
Exclude brand terms from Performance Max campaigns


  • Page feeds: In the coming months, you’ll be able to upload a feed of page URLs to refine your results when using the final URL expansion feature. When final URL expansion is ON, this additional feed helps inform and guide Google’s AI to understand that these URLs are important (but does not restrict its matching to them). With final URL expansion OFF, page feeds make it easier to add more specific URLs to your Performance Max campaign at scale and to restrict matching to just these URLs. 


You can use labels to group URLs by theme to make them easier to use in a specific campaign or asset group.


Screenshot of page feeds in the Google Ads UI
Add page feeds to your Performance Max campaign to help AI understand which URLs are most important or to specify which URLs to match to


Measure incremental conversion uplift with experiments


Illustration with channel icons orbiting in a circle


  • Experiments: Use experiments to see how adding a new Performance Max campaign to your current campaign mix drives additional conversions or conversion value. You can also use experiments to test a Standard Shopping campaign head-to-head against a Performance Max campaign to see how your results may improve and whether you should replace the Standard Shopping campaign. If you’re running other comparable performance campaigns beyond Standard Shopping (e.g. Display, Video or Discovery campaigns) that have similar settings and optimize for the same conversions, you can also add these to your experiment. This allows you to measure the true incrementality of using Performance Max.


Google Ads Tutorials: Experiments to test uplift of Performance Max campaigns


Google Ads Tutorials: Experiments to test Performance Max vs. Standard Shopping campaigns



When you set up an experiment, make sure to set a clear hypothesis and pick one or two metrics, such as conversion value or ROAS, to gauge the success of your test. Use the same campaign settings, bidding strategy and targets as other comparable campaigns so you can more easily compare results. Also make sure to run the experiment for at least 4-6 weeks to give it time to gather enough data. When you’re ready to evaluate results, check that they’re statistically significant and that you’ve accounted for conversion lags or delays to ensure you have a complete picture of performance. This will help you be more confident in what you’ve learned and decide whether to fully implement your new campaign. Learn more about how to use Performance Max experiments with our best practices guide.

Improve your video assets

  • Video creation tool: Use the video creation tool right in the Assets section of the Performance Max campaign workflow to easily create high-quality video assets (the tool was previously only available in the asset library). You can preview the video before you upload it to YouTube and start using it in your campaign.


Select high-quality and relevant images to use in your videos. We also recommend uploading as many relevant assets as possible and making multiple videos using the diverse set of templates. This gives the AI technology a wider variety of videos to work with to match the best option to a given audience and context. Some templates also have different ratios or formats (i.e. horizontal versus vertical). Create videos in different formats to ensure you can show up in as many relevant placements as possible.


Gif of the video creation UI
Create as many high-quality video assets as possible using the video creation tool and templates available directly from the Performance Max campaign workflow


Understand your results with new reporting and insights

  • Asset group reporting: Soon, you’ll be able to see conversions, conversion value, cost, and a variety of other metrics at the asset group level. 


Use this data to understand how each asset group is contributing to your overall campaign performance. If you're looking to increase conversions for a specific asset group, focus on adding more assets. If you're looking to increase conversions for your campaign, consider adding additional asset groups. When you add assets and asset groups to your Performance Max campaign, Google's AI has more data to optimize with to deliver on conversions and ROI.


When evaluating your asset group metrics, it's important to remember that looking at average CPA or ROAS for individual asset groups within a campaign can be misleading. This is because average values don't reflect the cumulative value of maximizing marginal conversions or conversion value in each and every auction. Even if an asset group has lower overall ROI compared to others on average, it may still be the most performant traffic with the highest marginal ROI in a given auction. Learn more about marginal ROI vs. average ROI.

  • Budget pacing insights: Budget pacing insights will roll out in the next few weeks and help you automatically uncover opportunities to optimize your budget and performance. See how much your campaigns have spent and are projected to spend, along with your current and forecasted conversion performance. Understand at a glance how your campaign is pacing and whether there’s an opportunity to change or re-distribute your budget to drive more conversions. In addition, get customized recommendations to maximize your budget utilization. 


Understanding how to optimize your budgets is critical to any cross-channel strategy; to learn more about cross-channel advertising and why Performance Max campaigns help you drive stronger ROI, read our whitepaper. You can also check out this new tutorial video to learn how to use the Insights page to answer strategic questions about your performance, customers, creative and business. 


Google Ads Tutorials: Understanding Performance Max results with the Insights page


To get more best practices for running successful Performance Max campaigns, check out our full guide

Posted by Sagar Shah, Senior Product Manager, Performance Max campaigns

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