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The Ultimate Guide To Performance Max Campaigns (2023)

33 · by Dennis Moons · Updated on 27 July 2023

The introduction of Performance Max campaigns has been the biggest shake-up in the world of Google Ads in the last few years.

With Google clearly indicating how they see the future for advertising, advertisers are now forced to re-evaluate if their own strategies are in line with that.

So in this article, we’ll take a look at why Performance Max campaigns are such a game changer, who should use this new campaign type, and how to integrate them into your overall Google Ads strategy.

What is Google Performance Max?

Performance Max is a campaign type that can show ads across all Google’s advertising channels: Search, Shopping, YouTube, Display, Discover, Gmail, and Maps.


For that reason, I call Performance Max the Frankenstein monster of Google Ads.

Unlike specific campaigns that target a single ad format, like Standard Shopping campaigns, Performance Max targets all ad formats with a single campaign.

With this campaign type Google uses machine learning or AI to figure out what type of ad to show to a particular user.

If you’re not very familiar with Google Ads, this might sound great. You can show ads in all those different channels, with a single campaign that takes less work to set up and manage!

But if you’ve worked with Google Ads before, you might hear alarm bells ringing 🚨

Is Performance Max worth it?

Performance Max campaigns were launched in November 2021. But the real breakthrough came after advertiser were forced from Smart Shopping to running Performance Max campaigns back in September 2022.

And that shows in the Performance Max adoption rates across the world. Here is a chart showing the shift from Smart Shopping to Performance Max.

Image source: Mike Ryan & Smarter Ecommerce

Performance Max is here to stay and it’s gaining in popularity.

So it’s important to understand how they work can help you come up with a better strategy for your specific situation.

A second reason to care about Performance Max is because it shows the future of Google Ads.

Google will decides what your ad looks like, where, when, and to who it is shown to.

By taking more control, Google claims it can produce more conversions at a higher return on ad spend (ROAS) vs what you could on your own.

But that’s of course what you would expect Google Ads to tell you.

The truth is a lot more nuanced. Along with less control, Performance Max also provides fewer insights into where your budget is being spent.

Google can claim its black box works better, but I look at is as your duty as a responsible advertiser to understand how exactly Performance Max works!

Because that way, you’re able to make better-informed decisions!

How Do Performance Max Campaigns Work?

Like I mentioned above, Performance Max campaigns (also called pMax) do a lot of things at once.

Think of a combination of a Search, Shopping, Display, and YouTube Ad.

If you’re familiar with Google Ads, Performance Max basically is a merger of Smart Shopping with Dynamic Search Ads.

To be able to do this, you link Google Ads with your Google Merchant Center feed, and a bunch of assets like headlines, images, and videos.

Google Ads will then mix and match all of these elements to come up with a different ad depending on the placement.

preview different placements of google performance max campaigns
Preview of a display placement on YouTube for this Performance Max campaign

The Preview above shows a Display ad on YouTube that’s originating from my Performance Max campaign.

Because pMax campaigns do so much, they have a big impact on other campaigns. We’ll look closer into the exact impact later in this article.

Is Performance Max Better Than Standard Shopping?

Today, there are two ways to run Shopping Ads, from a Performance Max campaign or Standard Shopping.

Let’s see how they stack up:

 Performance MaxStandard Shopping
PlacementsSearch Network, Display Network, YouTube, Gmail, Discovery & MapsSearch Network (with Search Partners)
ReachVery wideLimited
Bid strategyMaximize Conversions or Maximize Conversion Value (with optional targets)Target ROAS, Maximize Clicks, Manual CPC, Enhanced CPC
Level of controlLowVery high
Conversion volume requirementsMin 50 conversions / monthNone
Campaign transparencyLowHigh
Optimization potentialMediumVery high
Dynamic Remarketing includedYesNo
Impact on Search campaignsYesNone
Comparison table between Performance Max and Standard Shopping

As you can see from the table, each campaign type has it’s own pros and cons. There is no single best approach for every situation.

The biggest difference is that Performance Max isn’t just for Shopping. It does much more.

So in the next section we’ll dive deeper into the benefits and downsides of Performance Max. That will help you understand better when it is the right choice.

What Are the Benefits of Using Performance Max?

To get the benefits of using Performance Max campaigns, where better to look to then the initial Google announcement?

Here is what they claim Performance Max campaigns do:

  1. Increase conversions and value
  2. Find new customers
  3. Gain richer insights
  4. Work together with automation

While #3 is completely false, I haven’t found the other benefits to be applicable to every advertisers.

I’ll tell you more about that later.

But in full transparency, there are two other benefits that are missing from the above list:

  • Potentially more reach: you’re leveraging even more Display-style placements. (This doesn’t always mean better performance though)
  • Less work: since Google is handling so much behind the scenes, there is not a lot of work left to do.

Downsides of Performance Max Campaigns

The downsides of Performance Max share a lot with my criticism of Smart Shopping.

Little Or No Insights

If Smart Shopping was a black box, Performance Max is even darker.

Out of the box, Google Ads provides very little insight into how the budget is allocated. Both on the different channels, or on the type of visitors (prospecting vs remarketing).

With the impact pMax has on Search (see later in the article), there is also little insight on where cannibalization is happening.

All this results in a scary situation for advertisers. Either you’ve got great results and blindly increase the budget until it stops working. Or your campaign suddenly tanks and you’ve got no idea why that is.


Since Performance Max covers a much wider range of ads, launching it can have a big impact on your existing campaigns.

If you’re not paying close attention, it will cannibalize some of your other campaigns, and claim credit for the sales.

This makes it a lot harder to judge the incremental value of Performance Max.

I’ll discuss the exact impact Performance Max has on your existing Google Ads account later in this article. But for now, I’ll leave you with this chart:

google smart shopping campaign tanks
Branded Search Ads campaign tanks after pMax is launched

Can you guess when this advertiser launched a Performance Max campaign?

Limited visibility on placements

To see which placements your ads have appear on, there is a report:

Standard Performance Max placement report in Google Ads

But as you can see from the report above, it’s still a little light on the details.

The only metric you can see are impressions and the “Google Owned & Operated” placement is taking up the bulk of the impressions.

Impact of Performance Max on Other Campaigns?

One of the most important things to discuss when it comes to pMax is the impact it will have on existing Google Ads campaigns in your account.

To do that, take a look at the chart below.

It shows the impact of Performance Max on the campaigns in the first column, and which campaign actually enters the auction.

How Performance Max cannibalizes other campaigns

To me, the most important part of that chart is the impact on branded search campaigns.

If you have both a keyword based search campaign that uses phrase or broad match keywords, and a Performance Max campaign, the latter will probably show.

That means that if you have Search campaigns that target your branded keywords, depending on how the keywords are matched, Performance Max will take credit for those conversions.

Since branded searches usually are the most profitable campaign that you can run in Google Ads, pMax will look very good, without actually doing anything new.

So you want to make sure that your branded search campaigns are set up in such a way that this isn’t possible.

According to the table above: either by having have the exact keyword in your Google Ads campaign or by having a higher ad rank.

Since we can’t see keywords or quality scores for pMax campaigns, you’ll be guessing if your campaign is showing up or not.

Who Should Use Performance Max?

Before we get into the specifics, let’s address the most important question: should you use Performance Max campaigns?

If you’re just starting out, or you’re spending less than $1k/mo, stay away from Performance Max campaigns. Because of your limited budget, you need to take more control over where your ads appear. And that means avoiding things like Display campaigns or YouTube Ads.

If your budget is bigger, the next question to ask yourself is whether you have the necessary conversion volume. Because Performance Max relies so heavily on automation, it needs to have enough data points to learn what works for your business. So if you have less than 50 conversions per month, I would stay away from Performance Max.

For everyone else, Performance Max might be good, but you need to test.

Deciding whether or not pMax is for you.

During those tests, the most important part is to safeguard your branded Search from cannibalization.

And when you’re comparing before/after results, make sure you look at the changes in your whole Google Ads account, not just Performance Max vs your Standard Shopping campaign.

The recently launched Performance Max Experiments can help with that!

How to Create a Performance Max Campaign

By now, I hope it’s clear that Performance Max campaigns work very differently from other campaigns.

That’s also true for their setup. So let’s look at how to create a new Performance Max campaign, step by step.

1 – Choose a campaign objective

When you create a new campaign, Google Ads always asks you about your campaign objective.

Select the last option in the list, “Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance”:

2 – Select a campaign type

Next, you can select the “Performance Max “campaign type:

3 – Select conversion goals

Next, you need to select the conversion goals that are used for campaign optimization.

conversion goals performance max campaigns

Pay close attention to this step. Be sure to remove non-essential goals. This avoids duplicate goals or tracking useless things like newsletter signups.

If you would like to remove a goal, simply click the three dots on the right and click “Remove goal”

remove goal google campaign

4 – Bidding

The next section of the setup is where you set your budget and bidding strategy.

If you’re not sure what budget to pick, you might be wondering what to put here.

The budget recommendation from Google Ads is to have an average daily budget of at least three times your CPA or cost/conv. for the conversion actions selected for your campaign.

I think that’s on the high side, especially for smaller advertisers. I would recommend to try and have at least 1x CPA as the daily budget. So if your usual cost per conversion is $58, you need to have a budget of at least $58/day.

The available bidding strategies are Maximize Conversions and Maximize Conversion Value. Both have the option to set a target CPA, target ROAS, so that gives you additional levers to pull.

A good approach is the first focus on getting a good amount of conversions with Max Conversions, and then later start focusing on bringing in more valuable orders with a high conversion value.

If you want to learn more how automated bidding works, check out our article on How to use Smart Bidding in Google Ads.

5 – Campaign Settings

In this step, you can make some additional adjustments to your campaign like selecting the locations and languages you want to target:

Since pMax is also targeting Search, you also need to select the language(s).

This is very different from Shopping campaigns, where Google would use all products that are approved for a specific country.

The last important setting are the Automatically created assets:

Here you can let Google make changes to your ads beyond what you provide as assets:

  • Text assets: Google will scrape text from your landing page and domain to use as assets.
  • Final URL: Google will look beyond the Final URL in your ad or product URLs in your feed for a page on your site that matches the intent better.

The only way to turn Final URL expansion on is if you also opt into Text assets. So I recommend turning both option off.

If you do turn Final URL expansion on, be sure to use the “Exclude URLs” to block pages like About us or blog from being used as landing pages for your ads.

We’ll explore this feature in more detail in the optimization section of this article.

6 – Create Asset Group(s)

Next, we need to set up one or more asset groups.

An asset group doesn’t exist in other campaign types.

It’s basically a combination of an ad group, product group, and advertisement.

Listing group

First, you have to select the products you want to include in this asset group. By default, it uses all products that are in your feed.

To change that, click the pencil icon to select based on the same criteria we know from other Shopping campaigns.

performance max listing groups
Select your products to be part of your listing group


When you open up the asset menu, you’ll see a lot of resemblance with Smart Shopping Ads.

Example of an asset group

You give Google a bunch of creative assets, and they combine it in different ways depending on the placements.

Here is what you need:

  • Headline: 3-5 30-character headlines
  • Long headline: 1-5 90-character headlines
  • Short description: 1 60-character description
  • Description texts: 1-4 90-character descriptions
  • Images: add up to 20 images with at least 1 square and one landscape image
  • Logo: at least 1 square logo, others are optional
  • YouTube video: not required, up to 5 videos of min 10 seconds

I listed the minimum for each ad. But ideally, you want to provide a bunch of assets Google is able to combine. Especially in terms of the images, it’s important to provide variation in dimensions and content.

If you’re interested, here are all potential assets you can provide for Performance Max:

performance max asset requirements
Detailed requirements for Performance Max assets

When you start filling in your text assets, Google will pull headlines and descriptions from your other ads, which makes it pretty easy to re-use them.

performance max headlines
Suggestions for headlines

Audience signal

Audience signal is another new thing that has a new name but actually has pretty familiar content.

Google says that adding audience signals will help steer its automation more quickly towards the right customers.

Here is what it looks like for my store:

performance max audience signal selection
Adding Audience signals to your Performance Max campaign

An audience signal is a combination of:

These can be audiences built-in Google Ads or imported from Google Analytics.

What you select in this list won’t be the only targeting criteria. These audience signals just gives Google a jumpstart at understanding what your audience looks like.

performance max audience signal
Selecting an existing Audience signal

Assets (formerly called Ad Extensions)

As part of configuring your Asset Groups, you can also add ad extensions. Confusingly, these are now also called Assets.

Because your ads are also appearing as Search Ads, this is really important to grab all the real estate you can.

Available ad asset options are sitelinks, promotions, callouts, calls, prices, structured snippets, etc.

When those are added, your campaign is ready to go!

Going deeper on Performance Max

While this guide is a big one, it barely scratches the surface of what it takes to win with Performance Max.

That’s exactly why I developed our Performance Max course.

It covers everything I’ve learned from running these campaigns for the past 2 years:

  • How to come up with the right structure for your account
  • Which of the 11 pMax strategies will be most profitable
  • Learn how to fine-tune every part of your pMax campaigns to generate consistent sales

And much more. If you want to learn more, I’d love for you to check it out!

On with the article 👇

Performance Max Example

In this section, I want to show an example of how different advertisers are using Performance Max.

Medical apparel brand FIGS has set up several Performance Max campaigns, each focusing on a particular product or category, allowing the company to concentrate its budget on specific areas:

  • Best Sellers: all of their best selling products
  • Women – Scrubs: all scrubs for women
  • Men – Scrubs: all scrubs for men
  • The Set: The bundle is very  important for them. They got 2 variations, men’s and women’s and they’re pushing them hard
  • Unisex – Non-Scrubs: all of their non scrubs products. Important but probably not as an acquisition channel.
  • Color Launch: it’s interesting that they’re pushing specific (new) products

Performance Max Campaign Optimization

When I published the first version of this article, this section was pretty small.

But as we’ve been experimenting with different ways to run Performance Max campaigns in our Lab, many updates have been added!

And now it’s gotten to the point where I’ve written a dedicated guide on Performance Max Optimization!

In the rest of this article, we’ll cover the most effective things you can do to optimize your campaigns, but if you want my best tips, have a look at our optimization guide!

(Quick note: if you love geeking out about this stuff as well, you might be a great fit to join the Store Growers Lab when we open up again).

Performance Max account structure

The biggest lever to pull when optimizing Performance Max campaigns is that of multiple campaigns.

Having specific campaigns for specific products or categories allows you to allocate specific budgets and targets.

As with all automated campaigns, you’ll need to find a balance between control and consolidating data inside of a campaign.

Google recommends 50-100 conversions per pMax campaign per month, but it could also work with 20-30 /month.

The best structure depends on your campaign performance, but the rule of thumb is the fewer conversions you have, the fewer campaigns you should use!

Performance Max campaign structure

The next level of organizing your campaigns are the asset groups.

You can create multiple asset groups, you’re able to have up to 100 assets groups in a single Performance Max campaign:

multiple assets groups performance max
Multiple assets groups in a Performance Max campaign

So I’m guessing these Assets groups really do behave like Ad groups. (Of which you can have 20,000 in a campaign btw)

This opens the door to having a single campaign, but building out multiple assets groups to target different parts of your product catalog, a different theme, or a different audience.

Then you can customize each asset group with different text, images, and videos, a different Final URL, and different products.

One Google recommendation to keep in mind is to minimize listing group overlap:

We recommend that each asset group target different products (i.e., Products A-L in Asset Group 1 and Products M-Z in Asset Group 2).

This is in line with one of our iron rules of campaign optimization: one thing, one campaign.

So I think the multiple asset groups is probably one of the biggest levers we have available.

Google recently released a report with actual metrics for each asset group:

Compare the performance between asset groups

This can really help to make decisions on which approach would be best for your campaign.

Asset optimization

Besides multiple asset groups, we can also improve the assets within each asset group.

Here is an overview of the Asset detail report, which looks a lot like the report for Responsive Search Ads:

performance max asset report
Overview of the assets performance inside pMax

All your assets, text, images, and videos will be evaluated. You’ll see the result in the Performance column.

There are four potential values:

  • Low: low performing against all other assets of the same type across properties.
  • Good: assets perform well enough
  • Best: one of the highest performers of all assets
  • Pending: not enough data yet (you’ll need > 5000 impressions per asset)

The goal is to get rid of the Low performing ones and have at least multiple “Best” assets for each asset type.

Note that a specific asset type performance is different from “Ad strength”. This last one is an indicator that Google for all of the assets that you’ve provided in your asset group.

performance max ad strength
Ad strength for Performance Max ads

It’s a vanity metric, and a poor ad strength doesn’t automatically mean you’ll see bad results.

One other interesting observation from the asset type report above is the last column Source.

performance max asset report source
Asset source

In this report, the source is Advertiser, it basically are all assets that I provided.

But that brings the question of whether there are assets that are NOT provided by the advertiser?

To explore that rabbit hole, let’s talk about video!

Performance Max Videos

If you don’t add a video to your asset group, Google will automatically generate them.

performance max automatically created videos
Look at the videos Google added to my campaigns!

If you’re wondering if they’re any good, have a look at what was added to my campaigns:

YouTube doesn’t allow embedding unlisted video, so click here to see the ad

I have (mostly) stayed away from YouTube Ads because it’s so hard to produce good creative.

So imagine how much it pains me to spend money on this type of garbage.

The only way to stop showing these auto-generated videos is to add a YouTube video that can show instead.

If you have the resources, I would recommend creating your own video, instead of trusting that Google will put something together that represents your brand and products well.

Google also has a free tool called Director Mix that can help to quickly create a decent video.

That said, I’ve been surprised of how many brands that spend tons on their Google Ads campaigns are happy to put out these videos.

The best example of that comes from the supplement company Athletic Greens. Here is one of their most common videos:

Surely they have the resources to come up with something more effective?

Adding Negative keywords

Unlike Smart Shopping, Performance Max offers more insights into which search terms are being triggered by the campaigns.

Under Insights, they provide the “Search term insights“:


If you click on either of the themes, you can see the actual search terms:

To be fair, since the release of Performance Max, Google has made a lot of updates to this report.

Today right now, the search term insights report has:

  1. More data
  2. Ability to export data
  3. Historical data that goes back until March 2023

Still, it’s only a fraction of the data you can get with Standard Shopping or normal Search Ads campaigns.

  • No indication if these searches triggered a Shopping or Search Ad (or both)
  • You have no idea how random of a selection this is: are these all searches, the most popular, etc.

But after being starved from keywords with Smart Shopping, I’ll take any data I can. (And realize how deep I’ve fallen 😅)

Negative Keywords

Performance Max campaigns allow you to add negative keywords.

There are a few different ways to make that happen.

The first one are Brand exclusions.

This feature allows you to use the Brand Lists you have in your account, and prevent your Performance Max campaign from showing for it.

You can use it to exclude your own brand, but also other brands.

The second option to add negative keywords is to add them as an account level negative keywords:

You can find the Account Level negative keywords by going to All campaigns > Settings > Account settings > Negatives keywords.

This prevent ALL campaigns in your account from showing for that specific keyword.

Lastly, if you’d like to add negative keywords to a specific campaign, you still need to through Google Ads support or your CSS provider.

Final URL Expansion

When Google says Final URL expansion, they are talking about going beyond the Final URL and the individual product URLs.

In the setup section, I mentioned how this feature now required you to also opt into “Text asset expansion”.

That makes this even less attractive. But in case you do want to use it, here is how it works. When it comes to the Final URL expansion, there are actually 3 options:

  1. URL expansion ON, no exclusions
  2. URL expansion ON, with exclusions
  3. URL expansion OFF

Note: URL expansion is OFF if you’re not targeting All products in the asset group.

I would mainly test #2 & #3. As part of the exclusions, I would put add non-commercial pages on my site like blog articles, about us, FAQ, shipping details, etc.

You might want to use these in your sitelinks, but not as the main URL of your ad!

To see how effective URL expansion is, and how the different pages of your site are performing is by looking at the landing pages report:

Example of the Landing page report for Performance Max

New Customer Acquisition

One more advanced option inside of Performance Max are the settings around Customer Acquisition.

There are three options:

  1. Turning it off: ideal for most advertisers starting out
  2. Bid higher for new customers: most complex setting. Make sure you understand the exact impact before turning it off.
  3. Only bid for new customers: for advertisers that want to focus on new customer acquisition (have a look at this case study from FIGS where they exclusively focus pMax to acquire new customers)

Performance Max Placements

Google has a predefined report inside of Google Ads called the “Performance Max campaign placements”.

It’s a big improvement from where it was when pMax first launched, but it’s still a little light on details.

It only shows the Impressions and the Google Owned & Operated doesn’t make us much wiser.

Check this example:

pMax placements

But I suspect we’ll see more metrics and more accurate data in the coming months.

Once there is a more useful report, it can help to exclude certain placements via account level exclusions.

That covers the optimization details that are unique to Performance Max campaigns. Luckily there are a bunch of tactics we can leverage from other campaign types.

Google Merchant Center business settings

In Google Merchant Center, you can upload your logos and business colors.

That makes sure that at least some part of your branding is used in your ads:

performance max colors
My purple main color comes through thanks to GMC settings

Leverage Goals higher in the funnel

Performance Max isn’t just for ecommerce. It can also be leveraged for lead generation campaigns.

One of the recommendations Google has for those advertisers:

If using Maximize conversions or tCPA bid strategies, select the deepest funnel conversion action that has sufficient frequency and set the tCPA accordingly.

This is something we’ve seen in Smart Shopping as well.

We’ve tried to get more data into Google Ads by using start checkout or add to cart as the main goal.

Even with all the necessary measures to accomplish this (discounted values or more aggressive ROAS targets), we haven’t seen this result in the algorithm getting any better as a result of more data.

So it’s interesting to see a very similar recommendation from Google about focussing as deep in your funnel as possible.

No doubt we’ll try goals higher in the funnel at some point, but it’s not on top of our list.

Feed optimization

While there is not much to change on the actual Shopping Ads, we still have a lot of power over what we put in the feed.

That makes product feed optimization very important.

First, that means cleaning up your feed and making sure you’ve fixed the errors and warnings in Google Merchant Center.

The second part is to bring in the necessary info you need to organize your campaigns via custom labels.

Then the true feed optimization can start with updating product titles, descriptions, images, etc.

Then there are two new feed attributes that are interesting for the Display component of Performance Max:

  • Short_title: this allows you to show a shorter product title compared to the product title that’s used in the Shopping Ads.
  • Lifestyle_image_link: where product focused images work best in the Shopping ads, this alternative image allows you do use images that look nicer on a Display placement

Bid adjustments

The last section of our Performance Max optimization is about the bid adjustments like ad scheduling or location targeting.

Since they’ve been around for a long time, I’m not going into detail here.

Using Performance Max Results Effectively

I can’t lie, the theory behind Performance Max is tempting. Tapping into the massive reach of Display & YouTube without the effort it normally takes sounds amazing.

But I haven’t seen that play out yet.

Right now, most Performance Max for ecommerce are mostly targeting Shopping and Search.

In terms of the returns, they are still very similar to what can be achieved by combining Standard Shopping with other campaign types.

So while we are running some Performance Max campaigns, we’ve definitely not gone all in (yet).

But I don’t doubt that Google will continue to improve its automation, so that might change in the future.

But if you want results TODAY, you need to pick the campaign that makes most sense for your business.

So if your pMax campaigns aren’t delivering the results you’re looking for, you need an alternative!

Another area where we’ve seen poor results is with clients with well-built Search Ads campaigns, Performance Max also got good results, but it really came at the cost of the existing Search campaigns.

Because they have been honed over many years, it’s understandable that pMax isn’t able to get up to par yet.

So at this point, I look at Performance Max campaigns as just one tool we can use.

Curious to hear your thoughts on Performance Max in the comments 🙂

Dennis Moons

Dennis Moons is the founder and lead instructor at Store Growers.

He's a Google Ads expert with over 12 years of experience in running Google Ads campaigns.

During this time he has managed more than $5 million in ad spend and worked with clients ranging from small businesses to global brands. His goal is to provide advice that allows you to compete effectively in Google Ads.

Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.


33 responses on "The Ultimate Guide To Performance Max Campaigns (2023)"

  1. Mona says:


    Great article! I’ve been trying to find good information around pMax, and it’s not easy. Even Google (our Google reps) has given me conflicting advice… One said to create separate campaigns, and when I did, I was told by another “no no no”, go back to Asset Groups.

    Can you speak a little more about avoiding cannibalization with Search campaigns? I’m finding that my branded campaigns are doing okay, but the more granular ones, like by size, by age, etc., are suffering. (We are an eCom that sells shoes) So, I’m thinking I may step back from those and let pMax do it’s thing…

    I had to pause the children’s pMax because even though I had two campaigns, one for adult and one for kids, Google just wasn’t getting it. So, I paused and am trying with Standard Shopping since I need to do a lot of work with negatives to avoid overlap.

    Thx again!

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Mona,
      Thanks! Yeah things are still very much in motion with pMax.

      pMax can show instead of your Search ads if you don’t have the same keywords in your account that are searched for. Beware that this refers to the actual query, not the “exact match type”.

      Example 1:
      person searches for: white shoes for toddlers
      search campaign: “shoes toddler” (= phrase match keyword)
      result: pMax can/will show

      Example 2:
      person searches for: gym shoes 6Y
      search campaign: “gym shoes 6Y” (= phrase match keyword)
      result: search campaign can/will show

      Hope that clarifies things a tiny bit 🙂

    2. what kind of videos are you creating for Performance Max? Product specific videos, company introduction videos, collection specific videos? All of the above and letting Google decide?

      I think I know how to setup the rest but I am a little confused as to what kind of videos to add to a Performance Max campaign.

  2. Hey Dennis,

    I normally don’t comment on DIY/Guide articles but first off, this was one of the better articles that I have read yet on a topic in paid media. Really appreciate how thorough you were and how much detail you gave. So thank you!

    A few follow up questions for you (don’t feel obligated to answer by the way):

    ->Have you had any luck adding priorities to your PMax campaigns? If so, did you see a significant change in traffic to the campaigns you changed?
    ->Have you experimented with Brand vs Non-Brand terminology in your ad copy? If so, what did you see?
    ->Have you experimented with Prospecting vs Remarketing audiences? Guessing yes based upon this article, but if you did, what did you see as a result?
    ->Any other tips/tricks you’ve seen for optimizing these campaign types? I’m personally a fan of segmenting SKUs, Audience Signals, & DMAs based upon past CVR data from prior campaigns or Google Analytics, though I’d love to hear your perspective on this as a fellow PPC Pirate/Data Geek.
    ->Are you doing or trying to do a webinar on this topic?

    Kind Regards,

  3. Mark says:

    Well I do not comment on articles – but yours is good. Have wierd experiences with performance max and simply function of adding negative keywords to it easily (even just like in smart search) would give us a way to deal with it. Sadly google is pushing it to hard. Currently I even turned off perf max in few ads accounts and restarted smart shopping which resulted in 100% higher over all account performance (and 60% in store sale) – week to week reults – in the recesion, huge inflation, in trend of searches for products going down since few months. I would say that’s says everything about it. 😉

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Mark!
      Thanks for chiming in with your experiences.
      I agree, these are rough times. Switching from Smart Shopping to Performance Max has a lot of advertisers on edge. With so many advertisers switching during the common months, I think some of the underlying systems on Google’s side will also need to adapt to this new reality.
      Fingers crossed we figure it out soon 🙈

    2. Amy says:

      How are you turning on Smart Shopping? I only have the option of regular shopping campaigns. I would love to turn off pMax. It is totally cannibalizing my branded campaigns.

  4. Khaled says:

    Thank you so much, this has been very useful! I’ve been running a smart shopping campaign for 2 years now and it’s working find with around 4 transactions per day. Now I’ve paused it and created a new performance max campaign and it has been 5 days now without a single transaction. My question is, is this normal, should i wait a bit longer or is there is something wrong keeping in mind the optimization score is 100% and targeting is almost identical. Thanks again.

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Khaled,
      Performance Max does much more than just serve Shopping Ads. So as part of starting this new campaign, Google also needs to re-adjust to see where it can get sales.

      I would be patient for a few more days before making big changes.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Amy says:

        I’ve been patient for weeks and haven’t seen improvement in recalibration here. It’s only cannibalizing my branded search and decreasing my roas for the whole account.

  5. Mehdi says:

    Hi Dennis,

    I usually don’t comment on articles like that, but I really appreciated the throughout overview and your plume.
    Thank you for it,

    1. Dennis says:

      Thanks Mehdi, I appreciate the kind words 🙏

  6. Patrick says:

    Loved your article. Great information on PMAX. I have one question. Do you recommend one main PMAX account with all products and then segment out asset groups by brand or categories? I’m seeing conflicting information about this on the web? At this time we have one PMAX campaign the first asset group is all products general group. Then we have other asset groups built out by brand and category. Will this method cannibalize each other? Should we set up a different PMAX account for the all products?? Love to hear your thoughts. Thank you.

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Patrick,
      Thanks for your feedback!

      Question 1: Do different asset groups cannibalise each other:
      Yes, and that’s ok.
      My current rule of thumb is to only include every product in a single asset group. So if you have multiple assets groups, you each want to have different products in each listing group.

      Splitting it based on category is ideal, splitting it on brand+category can work, but keep in mind that these will compete for generic searches. (If you have 2 assets groups for both Nike and Adidas running shoes, which one should show if people search for running shoes)?

      Question 2: Should you have multiple Performance Max campaigns?
      You can definitely have multiple Pmax campaigns. Each campaign can have its own budget and target CPA/ROAS. So if you have big difference between products in terms of margin, or you want to allocate more budget to certain products, it might make sense to split.

      For example:

      • Pmax – Bestsellers – $200/d @ ROAS 250%
      • Pmax – other products – $50/d @ ROAS 350%
  7. Great explained…

    Are we run both Standard and Performance campaign at the same time for the advertising of the same service in 2 different campaign types?
    In Google, the new pMax campaign will not conflict with existing search and display campaings?

    Please let me know.

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Sarfraj,
      If you run a Standard and pMax campaign with the same product inside of them, the pMax will take priority. Unless your pMax budget runs out, then your Standard Shopping campaign will take over again.

      For your second question, pMax definitely conflicts with existing search and display campaigns. You have to look at each of the campaigns and asses the impact. With Display there isn’t much you can do, but if you check the table in the article, you can adjust your Search campaigns to make them take priority over pMax.

  8. Oskar says:

    Hi Dennis,

    What’s you thoughts on amount of the amount of products you should include in a Pmax with a limited budget?

    We have around 10 000 sku’s but are running on a small budget (20 dollars a day), do you think we should consider to only include our bestsellers or a niche of our assortment so that the algoritm could learn better/faster?

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Oskar,
      With such a larger catalog and such a small budget, I’d highly recommend feeding Google a much smaller selection of skus. This isn’t just advice for pMax but any campaign.
      Your bestsellers are a great starting point!

  9. Natalie says:

    Hi Dennis!

    Super appreciate this article and all your courses so far. Question for you- if we narrow down the products showing in our PMAX campaign to just bestsellers, do you recommend grouping those bestsellers together in one asset group or creating an asset group per bestselling product? If you can please let me know your thoughts! Thank you.

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Natalie,
      It’s hard for me to answer that question. It depends on 2 things:

      1. Sales volume of bestsellers
      2. The similarity of bestselling products & audiences

      #1 – the more conversion volume you have, the further you break it down. There is no hard cap, but I’d make sure you have at least 20-30 conversions per asset group per month.

      #2 – if the products are very similar = they would trigger the same search queries or target the same audience, I’d keep them together. But if you’re trying to sell BBQs and outdoor fire pits, you probably want to use different asset groups to customize assets.

  10. Denise Smith says:

    Just found and read your article and I have a question about a limited Pmax campaign. We work with a vendor who is running Pmax for us, but limiting the assets (no video’s, additional images, keywords, etc) because they don’t want to cannibalize our search campaigns that we have branded and non-branded. So in our search campaigns we only run keywords. I am trying to get them to test Pmax without using our shopping feed and use keywords, images and videos in these campaigns. They are pushing back and wanting to run standalone display, YouTube/video and Discovery campaigns.

    Thoughts? Pmax test without feed or standalone campaigns?

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Denise,
      I’ve seen good results from a pMax without assets. But the pMax without feed (for ecommerce) hasn’t been producing results in the tests I’ve done. Very few impressions, barely any clicks, etc.

      So in your case, I think it makes more sense to either run everything from the pMax campaign or pursue standalone campaigns.

      Note: the YouTube component with pMax at this point pales in comparison with what a good standalone YouTube campaign can do!

  11. Rae Bassett says:

    Sensational article Dennis. Like others here I am more of a lurker, but wanted to say how much I appreciate you sharing these insights.

    My personal experience from transitioning to pMax from smart shopping – if you had a ROAS target in the previous campaign then you must drop that target right back down and then gradually lift it. Otherwise the new pMax tanks pretty quickly because it can’t learn fast enough to meet the target. Just thought I would share that here in case it helps others.

  12. Chris says:

    Great article! One of the best I have found so far.

    I am struggling with one thing: we offer different products: accessories for smartphones, game consoles, laptops, tablets etc.

    So I plan to create a different Asset group for each product type.

    The problem is selecting the country – we honestly ship to all countries around the world from the UK and UK itself is just 40% of our revenue – the rest is split between 100+ countries.

    Is it a good idea to separate the pMAX for countries, or to keep ONE pMax – WORLDWIDE targeting, but rich and specific Asset groups?

    Thank you so much.

    1. Dennis says:

      Hey Chris,
      thanks for your nice feedback 🙂
      Two of the biggest reasons for having multiple campaigns is being able to control budget and target. So in your case, I might create a list of “top countries”, and one for all the others. That wwy you can focus your budget on the locations where it’s easier to sell.

  13. Philippe says:


    The business I am doing google ads for is specialized in finding professionals for house renovations.

    For Search campaigns we have Branded terms, vertical terms and general terms.
    For PMax campaigns (20) we have vertical and general campaigns seperated for language (FR & EN), location & budget.
    – Google Rep mentionned to only use a campaign per conversion action, we have one primary conversion action.

    Having only a few campaigns with all verticals within different asset groups, we lose visibility on performance.

    What are your toughts on this?

  14. Jason Hood says:

    Wow, this is an incredibly comprehensive guide to performance max campaigns. The tips and strategies provided are not only informative, but also actionable. This is definitely a must-read for anyone looking to optimize their performance campaigns in 2023. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Hi
    Super appreciate this article and all your courses so far. Question for you- if we narrow down the products showing in our PMAX campaign to just bestsellers, do you recommend grouping those bestsellers together in one asset group or creating an asset group per bestselling product? If you can please let me know your thoughts! Thank you.

    1. Dennis Moons says:

      Thanks for the kind words.

      There are a few different options:
      – option 1: all bestsellers in 1 asset group
      – option 2: group bestsellers by category, 1 asset group per category
      – option 3: every bestseller in a single asset gorup

      option 3 will allow you to be super specific in your ad & audience signals. But you’ll need a lot of conversion volume to make that work.

  16. Hello everything is fine? Many thanks for the article!

    I already got great results in the max performance, but whenever I put images, videos and texts in the resource group it took a while to optimize, so I always test it in the resource group, only with the target audience indicator turned on.

    For a smart account, do you recommend starting with TARGET ROAS triggered? I usually start campaigns with $10, winning products at $20, some campaigns with collection products to discover the top seller, and other campaigns with single products to give the winning product more budget.

    1. Dennis Moons says:

      Hi Mattheus!
      Not sure what you mean by a “smart” account. But starting out, I usually don’t set a target (ROAS or CPA) to first see what Google can deliver on its own. After I try to bring it back in line with where I need it to be.

      In terms of budget, it’s a good move to allocate budget to the products that are most important to you. That $20/$10 does that for you!

  17. cardddle says:

    I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to extend my gratitude for the article you shared – it has been immensely helpful and has already yielded great results in maximizing performance. Your insights have been invaluable.

    I’ve noticed that when I include images, videos, and texts in the resource group, the optimization process tends to take a bit longer. As a result, I’ve been testing the resource group with only the target audience indicator activated. This seems to streamline the process while still achieving favorable outcomes.

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