BlogGooglePerformance MaxPerformance Max Updates: Google Answers Some Of Your Requests

Performance Max Updates: Google Answers Some Of Your Requests

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Advertisers are applauding Google with the latest updates on Performance Max. These updates are designed to target very specific issues that search marketers have had with Performance Max since it’s launch. Google now hope this will satisfy some of it’s skeptics to increase their adoption of the campaign type. New features coming to Google Ads soon include:

Exclude brand queries from Performance Max.

  • Campaign-level Brand Exclusions: This helps you avoid serving your ads on branded queries that may not be relevant for your Search & Shopping inventory (they won’t apply to YouTube and Display within Performance Max). They will apply to most misspellings & brand searches in a foreign language. You’ll have the ability to exclude your own brand terms, as well as select from a comprehensive list of other brands. Should you find that a brand you want to exclude isn’t on the list, Google Ads offers an option to request its addition.
Performance Max_Brand Exclusions Update
Credit: Google Ads & Commerce Blog, 2023

Use Page Feeds to direct people to specific pages on your website.

  • Page Feeds: You get to choose which landing pages you want people to see. With page feeds and labels, you have more control over your website’s traffic and can make sure visitors are seeing what you want them to see. It’s important to note that if final URL expansion is turned on, this supplementary feed provides a signal to Google’s AI to help it identify important URLs (although it won’t limit matching to them). On the other hand, if final URL expansion is turned off, using page feeds can simplify the process of adding targeted URLs to your Performance Max campaign on a larger scale and limit matching to only those specific URLs

An easier workflow for Video Creation in Performance Max.

  • Video Creation: Enhanced video editing tools in Performance Max allow for easier video creation and editing. These tools have been integrated into the campaign setup workflow, enabling advertisers to quickly and conveniently produce visually appealing ads that effectively engage their target audience and achieve desired outcomes. With these tools, video creation is made simple and efficient, eliminating the need for complicated editing software.

More Reporting & Insight for Assets and Budget Pacing.

  • Asset Group-level Reporting: Asset group-level reporting will soon include conversion value, cost and other metrics (finally!). This means you’ll have more data to make better creative decisions for your assets. 
  • Budget Pacing insights: This is coming soon and will enable you to see how your campaign budget is pacing, as well as your current and forecasted conversion metrics. 

More options for experimentation and uplift studies.

Discover the potential of your campaigns with Performance Max through two experimentation methods using A/B tests. 
  • Performance Max uplift experiment: Firstly, the uplift experiment feature shows you how adding a Performance Max campaign to your current campaign mix can lead to incremental conversions or increased conversion value.
  • Performance Max vs. Standard Shopping campaign: Secondly, compare your existing Standard Shopping campaign with a Performance Max campaign that targets the same products, and evaluate whether replacing the Standard Shopping campaign with Performance Max will improve your results.
These experimentation methods help you make informed decisions about the incrementality of Performance Max. 

Account-level Negatives were introduced earlier this month.

Earlier this month, Google released more updates for advertisers on Performance Max such as Account-level Negative Keywords; which should be used for brand-safety purposes. 

Google Ads Commerce Blog - Performance Max Updates
Credit: Google Ads Commerce Blog, Performance Max Updates

These updates address very particular concerns for advertisers

It’s been a long time coming, but search marketers have been consistently requesting that Google give us these updates since it’s launch. The issues have centered around:

Lack of insight. Advertisers wanted more data to feed Performance Max AI better inputs.

Up until now, Performance Max’s insights and reporting have had a reputation for being lacking. However, this was done on purpose. The idea behind this format is that by providing high-quality inputs, letting the processes run with powerful artificial intelligent processes, and getting improved outputs, advertisers don’t need to be bothered with all the minutiae. Giving advertisers too much data can lead to misunderstandings (in Google’s opinion), which could influence the inputs you give it, and ultimately lead to poorer outputs (as the artificial intelligence may be negatively impacted as a result). 

Now, Google has agreed to relent to the pressure from advertisers and provide them with more data points, recognizing that doing so will actually benefit everyone. Improvements to Asset Group Reporting could then improve the inputs and creative decisions that humans are making for asset creation; further improved by the enhanced Video Creation Tools and Page Feed updates. Yes, it’s not everything we asked for, but it’s a significant step in the right direction. 

Brand-safety was always a concern and elements have been addressed.

There is always concern with Google’s level of brand safety thresholds. Having limited controls meant you had to rely on Google to make the decision on what was deemed “brand safe” for you. Search marketers want to be as close to 100% sure that their ad placements only serve in areas they are comfortable with. 

It’s a common misunderstanding (that has played positively into Google’s hands) that you didnt have too much control over this before now. To be clear, whatever settings you place at the account level (for example, Account-level Placement Exclusions etc.) will be applicable to any campaign in that account, including Performance Max. 

But the addition of account-level negative keywords along with the recently launched Content Suitability Center for YouTube and Display,  should give you even more control & comfort that your thresholds are met. 

Understanding how incremental Performance Max is.

How incremental is Performance Max really? It’s a format that is seen as complementary to Search, not cannibalising (or at least minimal). For some advertisers, this has been difficult to prove up to now, with most resorting to pre/post measurement after 4-6 weeks of it running. Not ideal. 

Now, Google is rolling out experiment features for Performance Max to  understand a truer impact on performance, which is great. However, I am a little skeptical that Google will ever show a scenario where Performance Max doesn’t work as well as manual campaign types (e.g. Standard Shopping). But we’ll have to wait and see once  we’ve done some more robust testing!

Historically, you will have only been able to exclude queries from Performance Max campaigns through a Google account manager (who would have to do this in the back-end). Now, you can do a version of this yourself (through Campaign-level Brand Exclusions) to make sure that your Performance Max campaigns only serve on search queries that are Generic (for Search & Shopping). With this, you can be more confident that it is incremental for your account. 

Google's reference to 'keywordless AI' was notable. Performance Max + Search = Ad Power Pairing

Author Mike Ryan (eagle-eyed as ever) spotted this is one of the first times that Google have referenced “keywordless AI technology” in their updates. 

Search marketers have long forecasted the demise of the keyword. With every update to Match Types in recent years, we see a looser definition and  targeting. The new and improved Broad Match was a significant step towards this future. Now, Google references the ‘Ads Power Paring’ of Performance Max + Search (i.e. Broad Match + Smart Bidding) to maximize search query coverage and drive incremental conversions. 

There are lots of Google events happening over the next few months, and there is no doubt we are accelerating on the journey towards keywordless-AI. It’s definitely not the last we’ll hear of this.

Google Performance Max + Search Power Pairing
Credit: Google Ads Help, Performance Max + Search AI Ads Power Pairing

Overall, Google’s latest update is a promising move in the right direction. It’s a positive sign that Google has taken into account the concerns of the Search community and worked to find a balance that meets the needs of all stakeholders. While there’s still room for improvement, I’m encouraged to see this kind of progress being made. I look forward to seeing what other updates Google has in store for the future.

Dan Roberts
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