Performance Max: Google’s big step to automation and what it means for your marketing

What is Performance Max?

Performance Max is a new type of campaign that Google released in November 2021 and marks their next step towards automating Google marketing. Campaigns set up as Performance Max campaigns give almost complete control to Google in terms of ongoing optimisations, channel planning (across Google owned platforms; Search, Shopping, Gmail, YouTube & Display) and budget optimisations. You simply give it your creative, your budget, some rough targeting parameters and Google takes care of the rest.

Now, I know what you’re currently thinking, that seems like a lot of control to give to Google, and you’re right. This is a bit of a black box where money goes in one end, and leads and sales come out the other. This makes it difficult for you to know what is working within your marketing mix and what isn’t, so you may want to stick with the typical, more manually controlled campaign types. However, there will reach a point where the adoption of Performance Max campaigns is no longer voluntary. Google has already announced that they will be sunsetting traditional Google Shopping campaigns later this year*. The only way to get your products onto shopping results is through these automated campaigns, and other campaign types will soon follow.

So you need to start getting familiar with these new ways of working now, and setting yourself up for success in a fully automated world, but how do you do that?

Optimise your owned assets

This is something that should already make up a core part of your current digital strategy but becomes even more important in a post-Performance Max world. Google will rely on things link your website’s structure, content, optimisation, and experience to understand the context of what search terms you should appear for, what videos on YouTube are relevant for you to put an ad on, which products you currently have in stock and so on. Making sure your website is neatly structured to allow Google to fully understand your products or services will be vital to setting up their machine to do the best job for you. And when you no longer have control over your bidding options to be the way you gain a competitive edge, your site is where you can get ahead.

This makes Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) even more vitally important for the success of your paid search activity, and this is something you should be looking at already, or if not, starting now. SEO can take some time to get everything in place, build up momentum, and deliver sustainable and long-lasting results. Even if the transition for all campaign types is a year or more away, now is when you can get the competitive edge on your clients.

In addition to SEO, you should also be thinking about Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). This is the process of analysing how people are interacting with your web pages, understanding what is driving motivation to convert and what is causing friction, and streamlining that process to gain more leads or sales from the same traffic. When you are paying for traffic to land on your site, we always suggest looking at your conversion process to make sure you are making the most of that advertising spend. There is no point in spending thousands of dollars sending people to a website where they can’t find the information they need to make a decision and leave.

SEO and CRO collectively give you the potential to control the parts of the user journey that you can influence, making sure that the people landing on your site are as likely as possible to take action, buy your products, or give you their contact details.

Invest in your creative assets

The other part of the equation you can control is the assets that you give Google to use within their machine. Firstly you will need to make sure you have enough quality creative assets to cover the different areas of the Google suite of marketing platforms. Image, video and copy.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to invest tens of thousands into video shoots to create TV worthy ads but instead thinking strategically about how you would use video marketing regardless of if a machine or person does the actual buying of the ad placement. What is the message you want to get across to users through the different mediums available? What type of video will get someone to stop what they are doing and pay attention or click through to learn more?

None of your content strategy or effort you put behind your creative changes as a result of automation. This is still an area you can stand out from the crowd and create content that grabs people's attention and should be a key area of focus for setting you apart from your competition post the rollout of Performance Max.

Automation isn’t a bad thing, it allows us to focus on more valuable areas

As I touched on in terms of the thinking behind your creative doesn’t really change as a result of the ad-buying being automated. Neither is your overall marketing strategy and if anything this can benefit from you having more time available to focus on strategic thinking.

With machines taking the leg work of day to day optimisation of ad accounts, you, your marketing team or agency, have more bandwidth to focus on more high-value areas of work. Can we review our creative strategy to gain better cut through? What other campaigns could we be running to target new audiences and grow or diversify our customer base? Can we invest more time into lifecycle marketing to boost the lifetime value of current and future customers?

With time being one the most limiting factors for your marketing teams

capabilities, having an automated system that takes the day to day optimisation frees up their capacity to focus on driving more for your business through further means.

Start getting ready now

Big changes mean big opportunities to take advantage of. Start thinking now about how you can be best placed to capitalise on automation. If you’d like to speak to someone about how Performance Max or automation may impact your business, and what you can be doing to get ahead of the game contact us today.


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