The only “Performance Max” Adaptation Guide you'll ever need for Success


The last 2 years (2020-2022) haven’t been great years for Google Ads. 

We were systematically stripped of features and functionality. We were certain that they were aiming to coerce the agencies. Automate the process and make the traffic a commodity!

In order to phase in their newest campaign type, the Performance Max, they gradually phased off well-known features and functions.

First things First, WHAT HAS CHANGED ?

If you enjoy Facebook advertising, Google Ads will now feel more familiar to you.

With Performance Max, Google is moving away from keyword-focused targeting—as with practically all past Google Ads campaigns in the platform's history (recall that Google Ads was once known as Google AdWords)—and toward an audience-focused approach.

But don't misinterpret it.

The Google ecosystem and advertising mechanism are considerably more solid, even though Google Ads is moving toward more advertising that is similar to that on Facebook.

Facebook is a website while Google is the internet.

Why Google Continues to Be the Number One Advertising Platform on the Planet

It's all in the ecosystem they have created, which is extremely diverse.

Google's numerous "networks," which span the whole digital universe, include:

  • Google Maps
  • Android
  • YouTube
  • The Google Display Network
  • Google Analytics
  • Gmail
  • Apps (think Google Calendar)

Look at it this way, the closest publicly accessible thing to AI is Google.

It is a thinking machine.

We've been conditioned to use Google for all of our queries.

One of the most intimate insights into who you are, that Google has, is your search history, which gives it an opportunity to get to know you better than you might even know yourself.

And while most people are aware that Google gathers a lot of information about you through your searches on beloved,  each element of the Google ecosystem likewise purposefully gathers a lot about you.

Scary? You bet!

But it's this that makes Google the most potent data collection tool in existence.

Google before Performance Max

On October 23, 2000, Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) made its debut as the company's advertising platform.

Most non-marketing folks like, say, your parents, might recognize Google Ads as the results at the top of a Google search results page, branded with a small [AD] box:

Which isn’t wrong.  However, it's just one type of Google Ads (specifically Google Search Ads).

There is a way to advertise on any piece of "real estate" that Google owns.

And prior to the introduction of Performance Max campaigns at Google Marketing Live in 2021, the various Google Ads (i.e., Campaign Types) included:

  • Search
  • Youtube
  • Shopping
  • Smart Shopping
  • Display
  • Apps
  • Discovery
  • Local

Now, each of these campaigns has a purpose.

Additionally, prior to Performance Max, advertisers built commercials expressly for each network, choosing the campaign types they believed best matched their plan.

Google after Performance Max

The magic of Performance Max campaigns you ask ?

Performance Max ads can take the shape of any of the campaign types listed above (video ads, search ads, display ads—you name it!).  

To put it differently, when you create a Performance Max campaign, you supply it with all the digital resources (assets) required to produce the various ad types:

  • Display
  • Discovery
  • Gmail
  • Video
  • Search

and the advertisements are created for you automatically.

Instead of being network- or keyword-targeted, the campaign is goal-based and audience-focused.

And everything was altered.

Why Performance Max Is a Big Deal?


You enter Google Ads with a certain aim (or set of goals) in mind.

You then develop a single campaign for a single audience utilizing a single "bundle" of creative materials (videos, photos, copy).

Your ad is then automatically created and distributed throughout the Google ecosystem, pursuing that objective rather than necessarily the audience.

Hold tight for this

Google uses your audience as a starting point or suggestion with Performance Max.

Then, armed with that knowledge, it looks for additional audiences most likely to help you achieve your objective.

Consider starting a fresh campaign with two distinct audiences to start.

After a while, Google provides the following feedback:

Both of those audiences made the desired conversions.

But these 5 other audiences I discovered are also effective.

In fact, this is how well these function in comparison to your other initiatives.

You then go on to construct new audiences within your campaign—each with their own unique sets of custom assets—using this critical insight and you wait for Google to report back.

Welcome to the New Performance Max from Google

Google Performance Max Campaign Results Graphic

The results of Google’s Performance Max case study—take with a pinch of salt, although we don’t doubt the validity of its claims.

Key Features of Performance Max Campaigns

Improved detailed Insights 

The 2 new types of insights that come with Performance max are:

Asset audience insights

It helps you analyze the effectiveness of your Google Ads' copy, pictures, and video on different client categories.
For instance, if you're running a Performance Max campaign to sell mobiles to heavy-usage users, you might find that people respond better to advertisements that provide specific product specs than those that feature eye-catching product imagery.

Diagnostic insights

Think of this as a troubleshooter that identifies setup difficulties that prohibit your advertising from running (such your ads being rejected) and offers solutions to the issues.

Finding New Customers

A new type of conversion setting is now available in Performance Max– Customer Acquisition. This was a popular feature in Smart Shopping campaigns, and its addition to Performance Max only deepens its capabilities.

This goal allows you to focus on new customers–either by bidding more for them or optimizing your campaigns to target only them–while also making it easier to identify them through Customer Match lists, conversion tags, and autodetection. 

While this setting may reduce the amount of traffic and increase the cost per lead, it stops your existing customers from seeing the ads (or reduces, if you selected the lower bid option). It only takes a moment to set up, all you need to do is check a box and confirm your audience list of customers.

Audience Signals - They are a Game Changer!

In order to increase conversions, you can recommend audiences to Google's machine learning algorithms using the new Audience Signals tool, which is exclusive to Performance Max campaigns.

Audience signals are your way of labeling your asset groups by the intended audience (i.e., who you think should see the ads, according to the assets). 

However, Google uses your audience signals (your “label” or “categorization”) as a starting point to find the best audiences for you. It’s like a nudge in the right direction.

Although employing audience signals in your Performance Max campaigns is optional, we can't emphasize enough how important they are for guiding the machine learning algorithms toward the audiences that are most likely to convert.

The trick is to use solid audience lists. Performance Max will display your adverts to a sizable, irrelevant audience if the audience lists are thin or too broad.

So, audience signals do two things:

Organize asset groups by the audience type

Historically, ad groups were organized by keywords. 

But with Performance Max, asset groups are organized by audience signals.

Give Google an idea of where to start in its learning process

Manual research is still critically important. 

(Quality in, quality out, the good ol’ way) 

There are multiple ways to create and categorize audience signals, including:

  • Custom Segments
  • Customer Data
  • Interests and Detailed Demographics
  • Demographics
Performance Max Audience Signals


URL Expansion

With Performance Max, you don’t choose the destination—for where the ads show up in the Google network, or where on your website the user lands when they click.

Google now does this using a feature called URL expansion.

When a visitor clicks on one of your ads, Google can use this capability within asset groups to determine which page of your site to send them to based on their individual profile and "journey."

Sure, this feature can be turned off. 

But unless you have a really, really good reason, we’d recommend you don't do it.

The URL Expansion function, which is based on Google's 500 touch point paradigm, is undoubtedly the most amazing thing we've seen inside of the Google ecosystem.

To refresh your memory, A touchpoint is, in this context, any form of interaction between prospects and your brand. Examples include:

  • Seeing your ad
  • Adding products to cart
  • Downloading a lead magnet
  • Reading brand reviews

The concept is that it takes about 500 touch points before a user converts.

Google understands the journey your audience needs to take to make a conversion. 

And often, this journey is a winding one—checking out your “About Us” page first, maybe; or looking through case studies right before committing to a conversion.

Asset Groups

In essence, Performance Max campaigns are organized using this new capability.

All the creative resources required to develop any form of ad across the Google network (search, display, video, discovery, Gmail), known as asset groupings, include:

  • Videos
  • Photos
  • Headlines
  • Descriptions
  • Logos

You can learn, in more detail, more about building an asset group here.

Each audience receives a unique asset group.

The assets are then combined and matched by Google to produce ads that are displayed across all of Google's channels.

Per campaign, you can make up to 100 asset groupings.

Now, these assets don't necessarily need to be of the highest quality; in fact, an iPhone video and a picture showing your product in use are likely to build more trust in you than high-budget marketing. The most crucial thing is to consistently produce a ton of media that is tailored to the consumers for which it is meant (we talk about audience signals soon).

Additionally, if you run an eCommerce firm, you can add particular products to your asset groups for listing group targeting.

Listing Groups (for eCommerce Businesses)

Listing groups are basically the lists of products from your existing Smart Shopping campaigns. 

In other words, Performance Max inherits these preexisting product lists. 

This means you can attach specific products to your asset groups for targeting through listing groups.

You can learn more about listing groups here.

Asset groups allow Google to customize ads to the audiences most lively to convert (achieve your goal).

URL expansion allows Google to take the customer along the touch points needed to get to that final goal.

With asset groups, you provide the materials.

Google builds the path to conversion.

Performance Max is both an ad type and, in many respects, a research and discovery tool.

Previously, Google provided us with what we already had by purchasing our own traffic.

Google may now provide us with information about the audience's demographics, interests, affinities, and purchasing habits. With this knowledge, you can take a lot of incredibly positive actions, such as:

  • Create the ideal avatar.
  • Identify influencers
  • Create a brand
  • Develop thought leadership through content creation

Performance Max Prerequisites

A solid business structure and high quality website has always been important for Google Ads success.

But with Performance Max? Consider it critical.

This is why:

A learning machine, Performance Max. To match you with the greatest audience throughout the entire Google ecosystem, it scans your website (content!)

Mediocre content? Mediocre outcomes

Even if your website is well-developed and works well, your business strategy needs to be able to accommodate the increase in visitors.


Google can bring in traffic but Google can’t help you manage that traffic.

Some prerequisites for a successful Performance Max campaigns run include:

  • Reasonable monthly spend
  • Appropriate time expectations 
  • Quality website (excellent content and solid SEO)
  • Unique selling proposition
  • Completed customer avatars and assets

Specifically, for lead generation businesses, you’ll also need: 

  • Detailed lead forms

And specifically. for eCommerce, you’ll need:

  • A Robust data feed
  • Average order values that support paid traffic

What are the Cons of Performance Max?

For starters, Performance Max is designed for beginners to allow them to access Google Ads with much less training and experience. The majority of agencies, who market their knowledge as a selling factor, disagree with this. Ironically, though, beginner users frequently plunge further into Performance Max's traps because of their inexperience. These consist of:

Relying Too Heavily on Automation

You risk squandering a lot of your money on some badly designed campaigns if you are not attentive about how you configure and optimize Google Performance Max.

Loss of Control

The sheer idea of automation removes some control from the marketing companies' hands. The Google machine must be as thorough and strategic as a Google advertisements expert, in the opinion of individuals who enjoy poring over data to uncover improvement chances.

Ambiguous Goals that can lead To Underperforming Campaigns

Google won't be able to provide the results,  if you aren't absolutely clear about the conversion goals you're trying to optimize for.

Limited Performance Visibility

At this point in time, it's difficult to extract specific insights for campaigns or asset combinations. For example, you can't extract performance data by platform, which makes it difficult to provide actionable reports. It can also make it harder to get client buy-in when you don't know if the traffic is coming from YouTube, Search or Display! 


This blog discusses the changes made by Google to its advertising platform, Google Ads, in the last two years. The introduction of Performance Max, an audience-focused campaign, has resulted in the phasing out of many features and functions, making the platform more similar to Facebook advertising. Google remains the most potent data collection tool in existence, owing to the vast information it collects about users. Performance Max campaigns automatically create various ad types and use audience data to find additional audiences to achieve campaign goals. The blog highlights some key features of Performance Max, such as improved detailed insights, diagnostic insights, and a new customer acquisition goal.

Get in touch with us

Don’t worry about making a large commitment without knowing much about what we can offer. Book a call with us, help us understand your business and then we’ll offer you a free ad account audit and an actionable marketing strategy. Like the strategy? Hire us! Don’t want to hire us? No problem. The strategy is on us!
Book Intro Call

Best Part?

Are you a digital business looking to win the BFCM (Black Friday Cyber Monday) this Thanksgiving? Get in touch with us and we’ll send over a free guide on the best BFCM myth-busters!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.