Search and Rescue: Google x MuteSix on Performance Max Best Practices
One year ago, Google rolled out Performance Max (PMax) to advertisers around the globe, introducing a more consolidated and automated way to buy Google ads across YouTube, Display, Search, Discovery, Gmail, and Maps.
Now, as the sun begins to officially set on Smart Shopping, Google has released a slew of fancy new features–including Performance Planner compatibility and First-Party Audience Insights–to help brands transition confidently over to Performance Max and scale profitably this holiday season.
As a Google Premier Partner and front-running Paid Search agency, MuteSix joined fellow Search heavyweights from Google on October 18 to tackle all things PMax–from advertiser angst and strategic workarounds, to industry-leading tips to structuring and optimizing your PMax campaigns this holiday season.
Tune in (or read on) to learn what Google and MuteSix’s Harrison Hunt (VP, Paid Search), and Adrien Martin (Senior Paid Search Campaign Manager) had to say about what it takes to maximize Performance Max.
… on the Success of Performance Max.
“Of everybody who’s used Performance Max, typically on average, accounts see about a 13% lift in incremental conversions at a similar cost per action, which is fantastic. You obviously want to scale your account and do that efficiently, and Performance Max is a great option for that. And then for those who’ve upgraded from Smart Shopping, you’ll typically see about a similar increase in your revenue at a similar or even a better ROAS efficiency, so again great potential here and a great campaign time to test in your accounts.” – Adrien Martin, Senior Paid Search Campaign Manager, MuteSix
… on Who Should be Using Performance Max.
“Pretty much everybody. If you’re an e-commerce brand or even a lead generation business, you can see the benefits from it, which include increasing conversions and brand awareness, finding efficiencies you can’t find with other campaign types, or leveraging new inventory types for greater scale.” – Adrien Martin, Senior Paid Search Campaign Manager, MuteSix
… on the Top Benefits of Performance Max.
“By expanding these inventory places, we’re able to reach more people meaning that your campaigns can perform better across the board having lower CPAs and higher ROAS, which leads into the second, which is for the same budget, you’re going to get more bang for your buck.
If you’re focused on sales or if you’re focused on revenue, it shouldn’t matter what placement you’re running on, you just want to sell the product, and Performance Max is really built to sell your products and make sure that you’re getting the most value out of your ad spend.
And then finally the third, machine learning optimizes better than any human can. They optimize 10,000 times a day–something that no human could ever do. So, it saves clients time and lets them focus on more strategic initiatives like creative, which makes up half of ad performance. Or you can focus more on attribution and lifetime value, which are actually going to drive your business farther.” – Mike Hilgeman, Account Executive, Google
… on the Limited Reporting Transparency.
“There are a lot of frustrations about reporting transparency and not knowing exactly what is performing, like what creative is working best or what audience, or exactly how much money was spent on YouTube and Discovery. At the end of the day, we don’t share that information because you’re going to want to action on it. You shouldn’t care about the specifics if you’re getting better results because at the end of the day you should be focused on your brand sales revenue and those bottom line numbers, which is why we don’t provide those to you.” – Mike Hilgeman, Account Executive, Google
… on the Limited Optimization Levers.
“Similar vein: People are going to want to action if they see data that suggests something isn’t working. We’ve tested this over and over before and during betas when Performance Max was being released. By limiting optimization, we’re actually seeing increased performance.” – Mike Hilgeman, Account Executive, Google
… on Optimizing Budgets for Short (but Big!) Promotions.
“You’re not going to want to increase your budget by more than 25% day over day, so if you have a sale coming up, you should lead up to that. Your budget usually isn’t going to spend in full if you can’t find the audience that’s going to convert, so if you have a promotion that’s running for one day, two days, a week, whatever that is, you could have an ad group that you turn on and then if it sees performance is there, it’ll spend that full budget. But you’re going to want to do it in increments over a week if it’s a 50% budget increase.” – Mike Hilgeman, Account Executive, Google
“What we see to be the biggest needle mover when it comes to that type of growth over a short period of time is it’s not necessarily the budget, but it’s your bidding and making sure that your tCPAs and your tROAS are also incrementally getting more conservative or more strict, or less conservative and less strict, so that it’s giving that algorithm the willingness to spend more. If you have, let’s say a thousand dollars a day, but you have a very strict tCPA, it won’t spend anywhere near it, but if you incrementally loosen that grip, it will essentially tell the algorithm, ‘okay this is the type of audience you’re allowed to broaden yourself out to getting to that daily spend.’” – Harrison Hunt, VP, Paid Search, MuteSix
… on How to Strategically Structure Performance Max Campaigns.
“Segmentation is really key for data transparency. I recommend that brands split out PMax by collection category. That way you can get that segmentation and optimization on the campaign level. So, men’s versus women’s apparel, for example, they’re going to obviously have different audiences that are looking for those products so you want the campaign to optimize for those specific audiences. That way it’s not getting confused with women’s products versus men’s products, and you have more opportunity for the campaign to perform really well.” – Adrien Martin, Senior Paid Search Campaign Manager, MuteSix
“There’s two other ways you can actually segment as well. One way is by price points. Maybe you have some really low-ticket products like yoga mats and maybe you have some really high-ticket products like treadmills. Again, these audiences are going to be treated very differently because it’s different groups of people buying different things and spending different amounts, so you want the campaign to optimize toward each audience. Then, you can also segment by tROAS or tCPA.” – Adrien Martin, Senior Paid Search Campaign Manager, MuteSix
… on How to Optimize Performance Max Campaigns.
“There’s three main levers you can pull on PMax since it’s a little bit limited given it’s using machine learning. The main one is creative and asset groups–this is where you’re going to have all your images, all your headlines and ad copy. Next is your bid strategy and machine learning, so this is where you’re leveraging tROAS and tCPA, and adjusting that as needed to hit your actual goals. And, lastly is location exclusions where you can actually exclude any locations that are spending a lot, but not making those conversions.” – Adrien Martin, Senior Paid Search Campaign Manager, MuteSix
… on Mastering your Performance Max Creative Strategy.
“We get a lot of clients who have been running PMax for a month or two wondering which assets are performing. Luckily there is some data in Performance Max in the Insights tab, where you can see a directional view on which asset groups are performing. So, typically we’ll recommend to our clients to split out asset groups by themes, like imagery. That way, we can use that Insights tab to get a gauge on which imagery, for example, is working and what’s not, and then build out new asset groups.” – Adrien Martin, Senior Paid Search Campaign Manager, MuteSix
“Creative is king. You’ve seen this on social. Creative can really drive a click and a conversion. So the more creative that you provide PMax, the more opportunity that it has to use its machine learning to try all these different combinations to find which specific images and creative is working for the specific audiences. So, we really recommend having a bunch of different headlines, a bunch of different descriptions that relate to that sub theme that you’re targeting, then from there, you can use the directional insights to adjust and also make better creative decisions based on what you see working.” – Adrien Martin, Senior Paid Search Campaign Manager, MuteSix
… on Perfecting your Performance Max Bid Strategy.
“In terms of bid strategy and machine learning, this is where you’re going to adjust your tROAS, up or down, to allow the algorithm to really target what you want. Typically, when you start PMax, we recommend starting with a low tROAS to allow the campaign to spend and get some conversion volume. That way you can get some testing going and then over time, you will slowly ramp up your tROAS to actually hit the goal that you want. We typically recommend that new strategies last at least 48 weeks in PMax so that you can get the actual testing going, and during that period you can adjust up about 20% on your tROAS or tCPA.” – Adrien Martin, Senior Paid Search Campaign Manager, MuteSix
… on Tricks to Tracking PMax Performance.
“You’re going to have your high-level campaign performance, which is thankfully available in Google. This is going to be the summation of your asset group performance–your shopping performance and overall insight on campaign performance, too, so you can adjust from there. Inside PMax, you can see some granular search term insights on which search themes it’s targeting, as well as the asset group performance with directional feedback. And, then lastly, the granular shopping insight shows you which products are driving a lot of conversions and which aren’t so you can adjust those or turn them off if they’re not driving good efficiency.” – Adrien Martin, Senior Paid Search Campaign Manager, MuteSix
“We recommend that you look at attribution reports to understand where PMax falls within a customer journey. If you are running Search, YouTube, Display, PMax, or whatever combination of campaign types, our Cross Network Path Reports show you how often a person saw ads and what their journey looked like before that final sale. When you have data-driven attribution within your account, we take this into consideration when we are assigning conversions.” – Mike Hilgeman, Account Executive, Google
… on Leveraging Performance Max for Customer Acquisition.
“We have two solutions for customer acquisition within PMax. The first is New Customer Value Mode, which is highly recommended, and goes after the new customers from which your campaign is being optimized, but it also includes performance from your current customers, so it will reach some of them, it’s just not optimizing toward them. Then, there’s New Customer Only Mode, which will exclude your customer base that you have via your pixel or tracking or if you implement a CRM list of customers into the campaign and you exclude that. Then, you will just know that you’re not reaching any current customers, so if that’s an initiative for you, we do have a solution.” – Mike Hilgeman, Account Executive, Google
… on (Confidently) Transitioning from Smart Shopping.
“In order to prove out PMax, we segment an audience into two where 50% will be served PMax and 50% will be served a standard Shopping ad, and then the difference in conversions can prove out which campaign type is working better. 95% of the time, PMax wins because it’s getting smarter and the product is developing further. Usually, the performance differences are robust, so all the more reason to feel confident with PMax.” – Mike Hilgeman, Account Executive, Google
“We have a lot of clients who are really interested in PMax, and they want to test it and see if it works for them, so luckily Google makes it easy to A/B test and split the traffic to run ads at the same time. We have seen a lot of success with PMax. With some clients, we do see that standard Shopping performs better, so you definitely want to test it and see what the impact is for your specific business and product.” – Adrien Martin, Senior Paid Search Campaign Manager, MuteSix
… on What’s in Store for PMax.
“We are releasing additional insights into audiences and creative. We heard you. The whole market has heard you. We don’t have exact details on what it is yet, but that is coming in the next quarter or two, so be on the lookout for that. And, then expect more precise performance forecasting. Right now, you can forecast PMax campaigns within the Performance Planner, but as the product is becoming smarter and more widely used, our forecasts are getting better and better with understanding the value that you will receive prior to even launching a campaign. Then, there’s third-party tracking and analytics.” – Mike Hilgeman, Account Executive, Google
For more industry-leading tips on maximizing success using Performance Max, tune in to the full MuteSix x Google presentation here.
Stay tuned for exclusive tips from MuteSix and Google on leveraging yet another rising star in the Google ecosystem: YouTube Shorts.