What You Need To Know About Performance Max Campaigns

Starting your performance max campaigns in Google Ads

Image Credits: PixieMe – stock.adobe.com

What Is Google’s Performance Max?

Performance Max is the latest offering within Google Ads solutions. Introduced late last year, it’s a new goal-based campaign structure that allows marketers more opportunities to promote Google Ads across all Google inventory (YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, and more) with the same assets. As a combination of what were previously individual campaign types, Performance Max campaigns offer new audiences, more transparent insights, and a simplified campaign management. 

Performance Max serves all channels and heavily relies on automation to help advertisers of all expertise continue to effectively compete in the cookieless future.

Performance Max is ideal for advertisers who:

  • Don’t have time to optimize each and every Google Ads channel individually
  • Find it challenging to optimize various campaign types for one location
  • Have a smaller budget, but don’t want to sacrifice Google Ads inventory
  • Have a large budget and want to reach new and unique customer segments
  • Are looking to explore new Geo Markets

Performance Max was available last year through beta testing, but was only available to brands working with select agency partners who did not have a Google Merchant Center feed or Shopping feed available. Later this year, Performance Max campaigns will replace Smart Shopping and Local campaigns.

What Is Required To Run a Performance Max Campaign?

To run a Performance Max Campaign, you need to start with a supported conversion goal, which includes sales-based goals as well as lead generation and offline conversions.

Because a Performance Max campaign can run on several different Google Ads channels, it requires different types of creatives. Google’s asset guidelines is as follows:

Text specifications:

  • At least 3 headlines, with a max of 5 (30 characters max and at least one at 15 characters or less)
  • At least 2 descriptions, with a max of 5 (90 characters max and at least one at 60 characters or less)
  • At least 1 long headline, with a max of 5 (90 characters max)
  • Business name at 25 characters max
  • 1 CTA, selected from a list
  • Final URL

Imagery specifications:

  • Landscape (1.91:1, or 1200 X 628) – recommended to add 3, but can add up to 20
  • Square (1:1, or 1200 X 1200) – recommended to add 3, but can add up to 20
  • Square, for store visits only (1:1, or 300 X 300) – can add up to 20
  • Portrait (4:5, or 960 X 1200) – recommended to add 1, but can add up to 20
  • Square Logo (1:1, or 1200 X 1200) – can add up to 5
  • Landscape Logo (4:1, or 1200 X 300) – can add up to 5

Video specifications (recommended, but optional):

  • At least 10 seconds long
  • Can be horizontal, vertical, or square

Please note that Google may create auto-generated videos based on uploaded assets if no custom video is added. 

Feeds (optional):

  • Google My Business
  • Google Merchant Center
  • Dynamic Ads
  • Business Data

These features are the requirements to begin running a Performance Max campaign; Google’s best practices recommend adding more, such as at least five versions of text assets and five versions of image assets to the asset group.

While Performance Max campaigns have more involved creative types, the reach and automation they provide makes the effort worthwhile. The more assets you provide to your campaign, the more opportunities Google has to serve your ad to potential customers.

How Do Performance Max Campaigns Differ From Other Smart Campaigns?

Audience Signals

In Performance Max, Google uses audience signals in place of audience targeting. Audience signaling begins Google’s ad targeting, but your ads are not limited to just the audience you input. Google’s machine learning algorithm aims to find additional audiences based on your initial signals to increase conversions. Google explains that audience signals will help jumpstart performance, but also continue to inform the algorithm over the campaign lifecycle, especially as first-party data is updated. 

While automation is helpful, it can be a challenge for marketers who are used to having more control over their audiences.

Campaign Structure

Google’s smart campaigns are structured around ad group and ad level. Performance Max campaigns are structured around asset group, which is similar to a responsive display asset. By providing more assets, Google can test which ad performs the best and continually refine what ads customers see.

Bidding Strategies

As its name implies, Performance Max is a performance-based campaign. The only goals available are maximum conversions, target CPA, maximum ROAS, and target ROAS. Bidding strategies are limited to goal-based strategies.


From beta-testing, Google learned that Performance Max campaigns achieved a 20% decreased CPA within the assigned budget in areas that were not performing well in search and video formats. NetElixir is working on our own tests to validate the results so we can continue to deliver exceptional performance for our clients and help them understand this new structure.

Should I Include Performance Max Campaigns In My Paid Search Strategy?

In short, yes, you should start incorporating Performance Max campaigns into your paid search strategy. Smart Shopping and Local Campaigns are going to become Performance Max campaigns by Q3 of 2022. You will still be able to run your current smart shopping and local campaigns, but you won’t be able to create any new campaigns on these platforms later this year. Starting in Q2 is a voluntary upgrade, but all campaigns will auto upgrade by Q3. This means that the 2022 holiday will rely on new campaign structures. 

Through Performance Max, Google is consolidating some of their campaign structures through automation. It is best to get a sense of the Performance Max campaign structure, insights, and targeting now to be able to effectively rely on this channel for your holiday campaigns.


The world of search is evolving to the next level of automation, which allows for business leaders to be more strategic about their holistic growth strategy. Google is actively working toward solutions to ease the transition to the cookieless future and Performance Max is the next part of that solution.

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