Enroll in Google Ads Masterclass

TPE #26: 3 reasons to exclude brand from pMax

Jan 23, 2023

Read time: 2 minutes

Google is lying to you about your Performance Max results.

Why? Because it includes branded search data.

That’s a problem. In this issue of The PPC Edge, we’ll give 3 reasons why to exclude branded search from Performance Max campaigns.

Let’s dig in!


Reason 1: it inflates your data

The biggest problem with Performance Max: the data is inflated with branded search conversions, making it look better than it actually is.

Performance Max heavily cannibalizes your other campaigns and LOVES take credit for every single conversion. People who search for your brand would’ve converted anyway, so why should you let pMax take credit for it?

On average, we see 10-15% (up to 42%) of conversions on pMax are from brand. That’s a lot!

Even if you have tight branded search campaigns, misspellings will slip through.

If you have a big share of branded search conversion in Performance Max, you simply cannot trust the data. This will lead to you making wrong decisions, and your account as a whole becomes less scalable.


Reason 2: the goal is to scale your account efficiently, not Performance Max

If you don’t exclude brand, your Performance Max results look really good. However, the goal is not to scale pMax by itself. The goal is to efficiently scale your entire account.

Performance Max is just a piece of the puzzle, not the puzzle itself.


Reason 3: you’re probably overpaying for branded clicks on pMax

This is something nobody ever talks about.

You can never know for sure because you have no CPC data per search term, but you’re probably overpaying for branded clicks on Performance Max.

Just think about it: Performance Max is fully automated. Google determines every single bid. You often see clicks that got 10-50X the average CPC on non-branded search. Why would they not overbid on your branded search terms? Just take a look at your search term report, and filter on the highest CPCs. You’ll be shocked.

If you exclude branded search from Performance Max, you can regulate your CPC on branded search and branded standard shopping with either manual CPC (low bids), or a portfolio bid strategy with a max CPC cap.


Reasons to NOT exclude brand from Performance Max

We always look at everything from different angles. Google Ads doesn’t have a lot of ‘hard and fast’ rules (things that should ALWAYS be a certain way). Therefore, we’ll also give a few reasons NOT to exclude brand from pMax.

  • You have a very little share of branded conversions in pMax (<1%).
  • Your brand name is a specific/generic search term.
  • You have a new brand that is still unknown (no search volume means it’s not necessary/worth it to exclude).
  • You’re a big retailer with various brands that are not your own (e.g. Dick’s Sporting Goods selling Nike sneakers).


Most of the times though, it’s better to exclude brand.

Important final note: if you do exclude brand from Performance Max campaigns, be sure to set up a branded standard shopping campaign, otherwise you won’t show ads on the Shopping network! Here’s a full guide on how to do that.


And that’s it: 3 reasons to exclude branded search from Performance Max:

Reason 1: it inflates your data

Reason 2: the goal is to scale your account efficiently, not Performance Max

Reason 3: you’re probably overpaying for branded clicks on pMax


See you again next week!


Bob & Miles

Whenever you're ready, there are 4 other ways we can help you:

  1. Upgrade your Google Ads skills in 30 days. Sign up for the Google Ads Masterclass (waitlist)
  2. Optimize your Google Ads audits with our white-label, ready to use audit templates
  3. Learn how to set up, optimize and scale Performance Max campaigns here (250+ students)
  4. Join our free Discord community for Google Ads specialists (2.800+ members)

Receive 1 advanced Google Ads strategy every Monday morning

Sign up for 'The PPC Edge' newsletter. Every Monday morning, you'll get 1 actionable tip to scale your campaigns to the next level and stay ahead of your competition.

Your information is safe with us. We will never sell it, for any reason.