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Disappointing Performance Max results? Here's how to avoid prohibitively expensive conversions.

Performance Max (PMax) has finally replaced Smart Shopping and Local Campaigns as the campaign tool for Google Ads. This new ad form has many advantages, especially for e-commerce: more channels, less manual work and the promise of even better conversion rates. Still, you may be unnecessarily - and without noticing! - your ad budget.

In this blog, I explain why it is that Performance Max results sometimes lag behind and how you do achieve maximum performance.

Jelle Bakker

Jelle Bakker

Marketing & sales consultant

Results of Performance Max vs. Smart Shopping

Because PMax campaigns allow you to automate and optimize all your ads on the various Google channels in one place, it takes less manual work than Smart Shopping. That makes online advertising a lot easier and less time-consuming.

And as Christmas on the cake, Google promises that your conversion rate will improve significantly! On average, a 13% higher incremental conversion rate at the same cost, thanks to their clever AI algorithm. In short, Performance Max optimizes your campaigns so that you achieve the best ROI and ROAS performance across multiple channels. Fantastic, right?

"With so many channels, Performance Max can easily devour your entire marketing budget on channels with few conversions."

Consequences of smart algorithm

But what might be a bit disappointing: because of this clever algorithm, you yourself have less insight into your campaign results. And less influence on optimization, because Google does that for you. That's quite a scary idea, because with so many channels, Google can suddenly devour your entire daily budget just like that. Even on channels with poor results for you... Then Performance Max suddenly doesn't seem so smart anymore, but rather a bottomless pit that wastes your budget on impressions that hardly produce any conversions.

Wrong renditions disastrous for Performance Max performance

Because PMax also delivers on Display and Apps, there is a lot more focus on display, rather than shopping. As a retailer, you often don't want this. The quality of clicks is often poor, which is disastrous for your conversion rate and ROAS. If you're not careful, you even run the risk of spending your entire ad budget on irrelevant channels.

As smart as Performance Max is, the tool itself cannot fix this if you don't tell it what you want. You therefore need to educate the tool in time. The sooner you do this, the less budget you burn and the sooner your conversion rate increases.

"The sooner you raise Performance Max, the sooner your yields go up."

The first step is to see if you see a drop in your campaign goals in your Google Ads reporting. Pay particular attention to your ROAS and number of impressions. These give a good indication. Also look at what platforms your PMax campaigns were delivered on. With that information, you can quickly boost your conversion rate in 3 steps.

Performance Max results
If your impressions suddenly increase and your conversion rate drops hard you need to act immediately

Better results in 3 steps with Performance Max

  1. Are you seeing a big increase in impressions? Then you can assume (too) much is being delivered on display.
  2. Check on which products so much is delivered. Often this involves a product group. Exclude it from your PMax campaign and capture it through a feed-only Performance Max setup or a regular shopping campaign with a low priority. That way you're still visible on this product group, but you're no longer included in display placements.
  3. Also, check your results on the Apps. Do you score poorly on these? Then exclude Apps at the account level.

Take the wheel yourself or let it drive you? You decide!

Deploying PMax without proper exclusions is like driving a self-driving car that gets to decide where you are going. Totally fine if you're going on vacation, but what if the destination does matter to you? If there are places you want to avoid like the plague, tell the car that. This will get you there faster - and cheaper! - to where you do want to be.

So with Performance Max, you can basically go two ways: either you sit back and let the system steer, or - if you don't like that idea anyway - you do get involved in the direction and where your marketing dollars go. Then you can still sit back comfortably afterwards.

The choice is yours but even if you hand over the wheel, always keep your eyes on the road. You never know with these self-driving cars!

How are your Performance Max results?

Are the results of your Google campaigns disappointing or do you simply want to increase revenue? Then it might make sense to a Google Ads growth audit performed. This will give you quick insight into the most important areas for improvement.