Performance Max Google Ads [A Few Best Practices]

March 23, 2022

Welcome to part II of our Google Shopping Update series. In part I, you learned the basics of what Performance Max is and how it works. 

Next, let’s break down a few important things you’ll need to know about building (or rebuilding) your ad campaigns before Google’s Q3 deadline.

Here’s a quick recap on what’s happening!

In April, Google is going to release tools that will allow advertisers to manually replace Smart Shopping ads with Performance Max. If you’re planning to start using this campaign upgrade before then, you’ll have to rebuild your ads from scratch.

Performance Max campaigns will run across a mix of six different channels, including Youtube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps.

Okay, at this point you’re probably wondering…wait, how can my campaign run the same ad on a video streaming platform and a web mapping platform? What will that even look like?

Glad you asked. 

Performance Max creates ads using the content you provide in your asset groups [e.g., headlines, images, descriptions, videos, etc.]. 

“It’s a best practice to organize asset groups like you organize your ad groups, by a common theme. For example, you might try separating asset groups by the different products or service types you offer.” (Google Ads Help).

Performance Max then automatically mixes and matches these assets to generate top-performing combinations, based on which channel your ad shows up on. 

A Few Things to Note About Each Channel

  • Ads on YouTube: You will be required to run ads on Youtube, but you can opt-out of providing a video to Google. Instead, it will auto-generate an ad using a combination of your asset groups. Just note that having video content will perform better on this channel. 
  • Ads on Display: Similar to responsive display ads, Performance Max will use your asset groups to create automated ads that fit the size, appearance, and format of any advertising surface.
  • Ads on Search: Search ads will remain the same. That means Google will mix and match the headlines and descriptions you provide in your campaign.
  • Discover: This channel is generally shown on the side of your YouTube feed, the homepage of your Google app, and in your Gmail. It will use text and images from your asset groups to generate ads.
  • Ads on Gmail: Your ad will generally appear at the top of users’ inbox feeds—only on the browser. If a user clicks on your ad, it will open like a normal email and include images and text.
  • Ads on Maps: Both images and copy will appear in maps searches for local traffic. 

Note that you will be able to preview ads and make adjustments where needed.

How To Build Your Asset Group

Campaigns will look very similar in setup to Google Shoppings Ads. After products are selected, however, it will then look like responsive display ads. 

When building your asset groups, here are Google’s requirements:

5 Headlines (30 Characters) 

The headline is the first line of your ad and can be up to 30 characters (with spaces included). You may add up to 5 headlines that will be combined with your other assets to generate ads. The length of the rendered headline will depend on the site it appears on. 

If it’s shortened, it will end with an ellipsis.

5 long Headline (90 Characters) 

The long headline is the first line of your ad. It appears instead of your short headline in larger ads. Long headlines can be up to 90 characters. They may appear with (or without) your description 

The length of the rendered headline will depend on the site it appears on. If shortened, it will end with an ellipsis.

5 descriptions (1 at 60 characters and 4 at 90 characters)

The description adds to the headline and provides additional context or details about your product. It can be up to 90 characters, and may appear after the headline. 

You can add up to 5 descriptions that will be combined with any one of your headlines to generate your ads. The length of the rendered description will depend on the site it appears on. 

If it’s shortened, it will end with an ellipsis. The description doesn’t show in all sizes and formats.

20 Standard Images

Add images that meet or can be cropped to these sizes. The maximum file size is 5120 KB. Up to 15 mixed.

  • Landscape 1200 x 628
  • Square 1200 x 1200
  • Portrait 960 x 1200

5 Logos

Add images that meet or can be cropped to these sizes. The maximum file size is 5120 KB.

  • Square 1200 x 1200
  • Landscape 1200 x 300

Best Practices for Running Campaigns

According to Google, here are a few best practices you’ll want to follow as you start running your new automated ads:

  • Run campaigns for at least 6 weeks: As algorithms will need time to gather data to help generate automated ads that yield higher conversions, you’ll want to give your campaigns at least 6 weeks of running time.
  • Add At Least 5 Versions of Text Assets: This means at least 4 headlines and 5 descriptions.
  • Add At Least 5 Versions of Image Assets: This includes adding 1200 x 1200 size images to your asset group.
  • Use As Many Assets As Possible: “The more assets you provide, the more ad formats the system can create and the more inventory your ad can appear on,” (Google Ads Help).
  • Add Audience Signals: Use relevant audience lists as signals to speed up machine learning ramp-up.
  • Utilize Google Ads Conversion Tracking: It’s recommended that you use this tool to track video views or cross-device conversions. You can also track in Google Analytics to generate additional data.
  • Refresh Your Creativity. Creative is your most powerful tool to help drive performance. Because you’ll have less control over targeting a specific audience, you’ll need to get more creative with the components you do have control over: your images, descriptions, headers, videos, etc. 

Tailoring these assets to target your preferred audience can help Google do its job of finding them. 

A Final Note

Performance Max campaigns will be prioritized over existing Smart Shopping campaigns that run the same products in the same account. And beginning in July, Google will start automatically converting your ads—in no particular order. 

“Google will automate ad creation but only based upon the assets provided, similar to the way that responsive display ads work,” (Search Engine Land).

What this means is if you want to have full control over your brand image and message, you’ll need to be proactive in the types of text and images that are being added to your asset groups.

By not upgrading in April, and letting Google handle the work instead, you risk hurting conversion rates or missing key assets that perform better on different advertising surfaces.

Just like responsive campaigns, we don’t have as much control in terms of targeting and the placement of ads, but we are left to figure out which type of content delivers the right message for our users. 

We’re coming up on a very critical time that will require small businesses and advisers to become even more proactive in their campaign strategy. This upgrade will also give you more of a chance to effectively hit a larger audience with better Cost Per Click (CPC) and conversion rates.

Need Help?

The truth is there are still a lot of questions about Performance Max and how this will impact Google Shopping. As more information becomes available, we’ll keep you updated, so you stay informed and better equipped to manage your ad campaigns.

If you have questions, or are looking for a team of experts to help you upgrade your Smart Shopping ads to Performance Max before July, contact our team today for a free consultation.

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