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Performance Max Q&A with Chris Ridley

Due to how much we wanted to pack in at the second PPC Live UK event – we didn’t quite get a chance to do a Q&A session with Chris Ridley. So he kindly looked at the questions that came up after his talk and gave us his expert opinion on them.

Shall we consolidate all campaigns into Performance Max and let the algorithm do the job?

No, and here’s why: While Google Ads promotes Performance Max as an all-in-one advertising solution, it isn’t there yet. We are still seeing very limited data within Performance Max campaigns compared to all other campaign types, and we still have very limited control over how Performance Max functions and targets compared to the pre-existing campaign types. For these reasons alone, I advise people to avoid purely going PMax-only.

By having separate Search, Display and Shopping campaigns, you can control where your ads appear and who they appear in front of. This is a great form of control that we lack within PMax.

How to handle the cannibalization Performance Max is doing to existing campaigns?

For Search, I ensure I introduce identical keywords within my Search campaigns to ensure the Search campaigns are prioritised over the PMax campaigns for search terms, I want my Search campaign to target. The Insight tab within PMax and its search term insights widget are super useful for finding what search term PMAx is already being prioritised over Search campaigns for.

For Shopping, I will set up a Standard shopping campaign and exclude the products from the PMax Listing Groups I want to only appear within the Standard shopping campaign.

How many conversions do I need for a Performance Max campaign to be effective and provide new insights?

There is no Google-defined minimum threshold (that I know of) for how many monthly conversions you need to generate within PMax. And rather than stating an arbitrary number, my advice is to look at how much budget you are willing to invest in PMax and set yourself a cost-per-conversion or a Return on Ad Spend that you wish to see from PMax. I’d then look at how many conversions you’d need to generate from PMax for the campaign to deliver a meaningful and sustainable return for your business.

Should I use Performance Max if I have a low budget?

I would advise against PMax if you have a low budget as your budget will be spread thin across Google’s entire advertising ecosystem (Search, Display, Video, Shopping and Discover). Your budget will most likely more impactful within a single channel or two channels that you know will drive the majority of your conversions.

How do I optimize audience signals?

This is a tricky question as audience signals only jumpstarts the PMax targeting and in no way do audience signals limit PMax’s targeting potential.

My top tip would be to get detailed audience signals in from Day One, whether this is using the URL targeting to encourage PMax to target users that visit competitor websites or other websites relevant to your product/service. Use custom audiences and first-party data where possible.

If you use first-party data such as existing customer lists, but don’t want to encourage PMax to target existing customers, I recommend enabling the Customer Acquisition setting within PMax and setting it to either “Bid higher for new customers than for existing customers” or even “Only bid for new customers“ – which ever suits your business needs best.

How can I use negative keywords?

At the moment, negative keeywords can only be applied to a PMax campaign by Google Ads Reps, so my only advice right now is to befriend your Google Ads Reps and ask them nciely to do so.

Google Ads are introducing account-level negative keywords soon, which will allow you to apply negative keywords for “brand safety reasons”. Unfortunately, this will negate terms from your non-PMax campaigns as well.

What are the best ways to source assets

I recommend looking at the best performing ads from your account and using those for creative and text assets (when appropriate), I’d also look at the landing pages you’re sending users to and ensure you have the ad copy that echos the message and CTAs on the landing page.

For images, Google Ads provides access to a stock image library, which is great if your client is short on usable assets and can realistically use stock images for their ads.

For videos, I recommend using my Canva trick to prevent Google Ads from creating their own terrible video assets for you. The best way to source assets is from the business directly though, or via their social media if they have a lot of user-generated content, which you can get permission to use for marketing purposes.

In your PPC Live UK talk you shared a case study. Are the results for all the activity you did or was it just the Performance Max Campaigns.

So that was the performance for the entire Google Ads account.

Here is a breakdown of the campaign type performance YoY

We couldn’t do a YoY of PMax as there was no such thing as PMax the previous year

The Performance Max camapign had early issues of cannibalization which caused the drops in Search. This drop recovers somewhat over time as we introduce the cannibalised search terms as “identical” keywords in the Search campaign.

The reason we couldn’t preempt these issues before launching is due to the lack of data and information around Performance Max and the ever-changing features of PMax.

You can also see that while Search drops in ROAS. The Performance Max is driving a better ROAS than shopping ever did.

The main reason we had 40x ROAS last year was due to brand terms. We have lowered our Brand budget to allow SEO take these sales, while re-investing the budget into product terms and shopping campaigns.


Make sure to check out the Performance Max resources we put together for the 2nd event to see Chris’s slides & the recording of the event.


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