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The future of Google Ads: Performance Max

Robert Jan Bolder
Robert Jan Bolder
SEA Consultant, Digital Marketing NL
6 min read
13 July 2022

Google Ads has come a long way in machine learning over the past few years. From manually creating the right search ad for the right person and at the right time, automation has revolutionized Search campaigns more and more. Recently, Google released the newest version to this; Performance Max campaigns, which might be the biggest leap Google has taken in automation so far. Performance Max will not only rapidly change the SEA landscape, but will impact digital businesses organisation-wide. Is it time for your business to step up to Performance Max? Let’s take a look.

Performance Max is the latest Google Ads campaign type that allows advertisers to almost fully automate online campaigns for all channels within the Google ecosystem. From Display and Search, to YouTube and Maps; ads can be shown on all channels from one single campaign. Performance Max can deliver higher value using Smart Bidding to optimize performance across all Google platforms. It can be used as an addition to your current keyword-based Search campaigns, to realize more conversions from Google ads. With real-time data on consumer intent and preferences, Performance Max can find new audience segments and serve on new channels that were not discovered by your business yet. 

Why use Performance Max?

The biggest gain with Performance Max is that it’s the first campaign type that actually is able to make upper-funnel campaigns profitable for many advertisers. Google made it possible to create omnichannel focussed campaigns that come from one single ad. As advertisers in the past might have centered on conversion-driven campaigns in the lower funnel for better visible results, Google has now created the opportunity to spend that same budget on campaigns in the full funnel. Performance Max can run a whole campaign from brand awareness to conversions by one single ad. 

This is not the only advantage. With Performance Max it becomes easier to run a Google Ads campaign. Performance Max is based on Smart Bidding algorithms. To set up a campaign you will no longer need to manually add all the components that create an online campaign. Google will simply do this for you. The only input required as an advertiser is to provide a target goal (Target ROAS or Target CPA) and a budget. Targeting audiences can be steered into the right direction with Audience signals. Less experience with SEA is needed to run a Performance Max campaign, as Google performs all bidding and targeting with machine learning. 

The black box of data insights

So why are many companies still hesitant to try Performance Max? Similar to every new technology, it takes time for people and businesses to adapt. The biggest withhold currently, is the fact that advertisers will have fewer control over their campaigns. This is a deal-breaker for many brands. They don’t want to risk overexposing their ads or showing them on the wrong channels which could damage their brand image. 

Furthermore, Performance Max increases the difficulty to analyze how your campaigns are performing. It can be seen as a black box regarding data insights. The campaign type is limited to where your ads are served, and what settings are used for asset group level and audience targeting. Instead, Performance Max will only show you the outcome of your campaigns. It simplifies setting up the campaign, but you’ll have to trust Google’s machine learning to do the work. If you wish to analyze campaign performance better, you will need input from other sources. We’ve seen Performance Max campaigns taking over a few regular Search campaigns, and also pushing down organic results. Take into account that Performance Max optimizes for conversions and therefore could take away converting organic traffic. Thus, to measure incremental value, it is wise to take into account the full Search channel, instead of the Google Ads account only. In addition, you could consider excluding high-performing organic queries and/or landing pages from your Performance Max campaigns, but only when organic rankings are high and competition is low.

A shift in the SEA landscape

So what does this mean for the role of SEA as we know it? Some of the work for SEA specialists will change. SEA specialists have always adjusted to the automation steps Google has taken in the past and will have to do so now. As Google takes away more of the manual work, it also leads the way for measurement and the technical aspect of the job to become even more crucial. Conversion tracking, offline data imports and taking (offline) business insights into account will become increasingly valuable. SEA specialists must invest in connecting and automating these platforms to optimize campaigns. This is where your online marketing platforms will make the most of. 

Ads become more creative

Performance Max is not only changing SEA, but also requires more creativity. Less time is spent on optimisations, but ad creatives become even more important. Making sure the right images, texts and videos are shown to shoppers. This is where creative assets come into place. Advertisers must focus more on the creation of assets that trigger their audience. Brands that are winning are those who can bring SEA and content in symbiosis. Creatives and performance marketers must work even more closely together. 

When is the right moment to start?

Google is rapidly changing online campaigns with Performance Max. With every transformation Google Ads has taken over the years, this is the newest automation update businesses can explore. As many brands are still hesitant to try the new campaign type out, a first-mover advantage remains in Google’s ecosystem. Start debating how your business can test Performance Max, and how it can contribute to optimizing your account performance. Here it is important to bear in mind the full Search channel, as Performance Max can impact your SEO results too. The most effective brands in SEA will be the ones that can deliver value to their customers from A to Z as well as continue to adapt to the ever changing digital market. 

Are you ready to take Google Ads to the next level? Our SEA team is ready to help integrate Performance Max to your Search campaigns. 


SEA Consultant, Digital Marketing NL

Robert Jan Bolder

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