But while this campaign type is showing signs of improvement as new features roll out, they are still very far from perfect.
We’re still waiting on features that would actually be helpful
Back in February, we were told that new and improved reporting for Performance Max campaigns was on the way.
It’s now August, and we’re still waiting.
In the same update, we were also told that we’d be able to upload page feeds to get better control over which landing pages Google can use to create ads from and send users to. That’s still not been rolled out, so the only option is still URL exclusions, or a single final URL.
Brand exclusions only sorta work
As pointed out on LinkedIn by Bram, Performance Max ads are still showing for misspellings of brand keywords.
This means you still need to review the Search terms insight report and contact Google to ask them to add negative keywords.
And adding negative keywords is still a chore. Why we have to complete a form to make what should be such a simple change, is beyond me.
Huge performance shifts for no apparent reason
We’ve seen some massive fluctuations in metrics on Performance Max campaigns.
On one account I manage, one day the ads had almost 9,000 impressions, the next, it was 101. For almost two weeks, the number of impressions tailed off completely.
When I reached out to Google, their recommendation was *drum roll* to increase the budget, because that’s their default response nowadays.
When I pointed out that all that would do (based on their own budget simulations) was push up the CPA with no increase in conversions, they once again told me to increase the budget – and then closed the case.
It’s frustrating not being able to explain to clients why anomalies like this occur. And it’s not just me getting annoyed by this.
Placements are awful – and a real pain to exclude
There’s a pre-defined report which can show you the placements where your ads showed.
One of my client’s Performance Max campaigns is targeted to show in English, in and around the London area.
But when it comes to the placements that Performance Max ads are shown on, none of this appears to be taken into account.
Here are just a few of the placements with a high number of impressions.
- Koimoi – an Indian celebrity gossip website
- MiniVIP – a Chinese mobile gaming site
- 68580569.com – a domain with literally nothing on it
Bear in mind that these ads are meant to be targeting predominantly men aged 30-55 who live in close proximity to where the business is based. What’s the likelihood of them even seeing ads on garbage placements like this – let alone clicking on the ad to convert?
While I understand that London is a diverse city, and therefore websites in different languages are likely to be accessed from the UK, these placements are clearly far from ideal.
So how can you exclude them?
Well, not very easily.
The report I was reviewing has 1,900 different placements. I’d need to check each one to assess its suitability, and then exclude the domains by copying and pasting the URLs into the Content section in a Performance Max campaign.
To be fair, I already have to analyse placements for Display and Video ads, but it’s a real pain. And as most of my Display and Video campaigns are remarketing, low-quality placements are less of a concern, as those visitors have actually interacted with the client’s site or YouTube channel at some point. With Performance Max, there is no option just to run remarketing.
But that’s not all.
According to Google:
Placement reports shouldn’t be used to evaluate performance, as information on the placement report doesn’t include performance from all channels. Placement reports should be used as a brand safety tool.
This doesn’t come as much of a shock to me, as impressions are the only metric available in the report. No clicks, no conversions. But you can see those metrics (amongst others) in a standard Placements report for Display Network and Video campaigns. So I’m a bit baffled as to why this isn’t the case for Performance Max.
What’s been your experience with Performance Max campaigns? Do you think they’ll continue to improve as Google Ads moves more and more toward automation, or is this just a great way for Google to encourage you to spend more?