Join 18K+ subscribers

TPE #47: 12 new pMax updates

Jun 19, 2023

Read time: 5 minutes

Last week, Google hosted the Performance Max Conference in Dublin, which was also live-streamed.

We watched the entire thing back (2.5 hours) and distilled the most important updates into this newsletter so you get up to speed in less than 5 minutes.

In this newsletter, we’ll talk about:

  • New updates coming to Performance Max.
  • Our take on these updates.

Let’s dive right in!

 

Google is doubling-down on AI — especially with Performance Max

Performance Max campaigns are built on AI, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that most of the new updates also involve AI.

Before Google announced the product updates, they emphasized why AI is a good thing and not something to be afraid of.

In their words, these are the benefits of using AI in advertising:

  • “Simplifying complexity for people, businesses and marketers.”
  • “With AI, your marketing is multiplied.”
  • “AI can help boost productivity.”

 

With AI, Google wants to make it easier for people to find the information/products they’re looking for. They also want to make marketers more efficient with tools that increase productivity.

Performance Max campaigns are huge black boxes, but with the upcoming updates, we are getting more control and insights.

These are the product updates, categorized under 3 main categories:

 

 

  1. Controls to guide AI

    New inputs to steer Performance Max campaigns towards business outcomes.”
    1. Page feeds
    2. Re-engagement Goals
    3. New Customer Lifecycle Goals
    4. Account-level negative keywords
    5. Campaign-level brand exclusions
    6. Smart Bidding optimized for in-store sales

  2. Ease of use and workflows

    Improving the campaign construction workflow to support optimal setup.”
    1. Create assets with Generative AI tools
    2. Integrated recommendations during campaign setup

  3. Proving value and insights

    Provide tools to quantify the value of pMax and offer insights on what’s driving performance.”
    1. Performance Max Experiments
    2. Better search term insights
    3. Conversion lift studies
    4. Improved Merchant Center integration inside of Google Ads

Let’s look at each new product update.

 

1: Controls to guide AI

The goal of these new updates, according to Google:

New inputs to steer Performance Max campaigns towards business outcomes.”

In other words: more control in how we set up and optimize pMax campaigns.

 

Update 1: Page feeds

What is it: Performance Max has a built-in DSA functionality, which you can control through the ‘Final URL Expansion’ feature. Up until now, you could only choose to target all pages. It’s possible to exclude pages, but with page feeds, you can soon target specific landing pages.

Our take: We’re excited for this update because it gives us back valuable control. With page feeds, you can now target specific pages, instead of all pages. We’re excited to test this soon!

 

Update 2: Re-engagement Goals

What is it: With Re-engagement Goals, you can let the algorithm optimize for disengaged customers.

Our take: This is particularly nice for brands that focus on retention and want to re-engage old customers. One important note: Re-engagement Goals use first-party data (customer lists) to predict and steer on lapsed users. It’s essential to have high-value first-party data. We’re not 100% sure yet, but we think Google might still optimize for users that are not old customers, if AI makes wrong predictions.

 

Update 3: New Customer Lifecycle Goals

What is it: With New Customer Lifecycle Goals, you can let Smart Bidding optimize for high-value customers, instead of just any new/existing customer.

Our take: This sounds like a nice update, but we’re very careful with using New Customer Acquisition Goals. If you don’t fully know what you’re doing, we advise to stay away from using NCAs. But, when using correctly, they can be powerful tools to help you find the right customers that matter most to your business. Optimizing for high-value customers is something we look forward to testing.

 

Update 4: Account-level negatives

What is it: This update speaks for itself: you can now use account-level negatives to exclude specific search terms across ALL your campaigns.

Our take: No clue why this wasn’t rolled out earlier, but we’ll take it. This is great for brand safety.

 

Update 5: Campaign-level brand exclusions

What is it: With this new feature, you can exclude branded search terms from pMax campaigns. This excludes them from all Search + Shopping placements.

Our take: We’re happy to see Google finally rolling out campaign-level brand exclusions. Performance Max loves to take credit for branded conversions, heavily inflating the data. Before, we used a workaround with negative keyword lists. That won’t be necessary anymore (probably).

 

Update 6: Smart Bidding optimized for in-store sales

What is it: With this new feature, you can let Smart Bidding optimize for in-store sales.

Our take: This is great if you have physical stores and want to stimulate footfall AND in-store sales.

 

2: Ease of use and workflows

The goal of these new updates, according to Google:

Improving the campaign construction workflow to support optimal setup.”

In other words: Google wants to make it even easier to create campaigns, by embedding AI and recommendations in the setup process.

 

Update 7: Create assets with Generative AI tools

What is it: Google will release new AI tools which allow you to create assets inside of Google Ads (videos, images, text).

Our take: We’re excited to test this out and see the quality of the assets.

 

 

Update 8: Integrated recommendations during campaign setup

What is it: Google is making it easier to set up campaigns. Enter your URL and some basic information about your products/brand and Google creates a complete campaign outline.

Our take: We wonder how qualitative the campaigns will be, but one thing is for sure: it’s going to speed up the campaign creation process and lower the barrier to entry for small advertisers. Google’s ‘recommendations’ will be embedded in the campaign creation process — which can be a bit of a red flag. However, not all recommendations are bad. So let’s see how this plays out.

 

 

3: Proving value and insights

The goal of these new updates, according to Google:

Provide tools to quantify the value of pMax and offer insights on what’s driving performance.”

In other words: Google wants to help you prove the value of pMax with new features (so you allocate more spend to it).

 

Update 9: Performance Max Experiments

What is it: With Performance Max Experiments, you can A/B test pMax campaigns.

Our take: We’ve been waiting for this for a long time! We’ll finally be able to A/B test Performance Max campaigns. Use them to test different bid strategies, placements, assets, Final URL expansion on/off and so much more.

 

Update 10: Better search term insights

What is it: We’ll now be able to export search term insights (for custom date ranges, not just last 7/28 days) and access them through the API.

Our take: This is a much-appreciated update. More insights are always good! The only question we have: why did it take you so long to release this, Google?! Anyway… Let’s not be greedy. We’re happy with this update.

 

Update 11: Conversion lift studies

What is it: Conversion lift studies help you understand the how many conversions of your pMax campaigns were incremental.

Our take: This is going to be crucial to understand how valuable Performance Max truly is. You can set up Conversion lift studies split by users or geographical locations.

 

Update 12: Improved Merchant Center integration inside of Google Ads

What is it: Google is slowly but surely integrating Merchant Center into Google Ads. You’ll be able to see product insights and diagnostics, next to your data. There will be deeplinks to Merchant Center, so it’s easier to optimize products that need your attention.

Our take: We love this! It’s easy to miss product disapproval in Merchant Center. Soon, it will be much easier to optimize your feed and fix product issues because they are highlighted inside of Google Ads. Improved insights include: policy issues, status issues (e.g. product is not in a campaign), stock issues, diagnostics (missing attributes) and more.

 

Final word: don’t test everything all at once

An important closing remark: don’t test everything all at once. Figure out what’s relevant for your accounts, and then test one thing at a time.

We’re excited to see Google rolling out new Performance Max updates.

It makes us wonder: did they launch pMax as an unfinished product, and are we getting closer to the real product as it was intended?

We don’t know what the future holds. But for now, all we can say is: happy testing, dear friends!

See you next week.

Cheers,

Bob & Miles

​



And whenever you're ready, here's how we can help you further:


1. Upgrade your Google Ads skills in 4 short weeks
with our most advanced training program to date.
Sign up for theΒ May '24 Google Ads Masterclass (2.100+ students).


2. Join our global community of world-class Google Ads Specialists
:
Stay up to date with all developments, get trained by us all year round, and learn & grow together with like-minded PPCers.
Become a member of The PPC Hub (900+ members).


3. Alternatively, you might like one of these self-paced products:

  • Conversion Tracking Mastery:
    Master Google Ads Conversion Tracking and unlock your biggest edge for 2023 and beyond (1.900+ students).
  • Performance Max Mastery:
    Learn how to launch, optimize & scale pMax campaigns (2.800+ students).
  • Google Ads Audit Templates:
    Get the exact templates we use to audit Google Ads accounts.
    Reduce wasted ad spend and find growth opportunities, fast (700+ students).​