Google Ads recently presented the upcoming changes for its own campaign format for this year. Performance Max is now the “flagship” among AI-driven Google Ads campaigns. Therefore, some of the features aimed at controlling the AI are long-awaited innovations. Overview of the most significant updates:
1 Account-level Negative Keywords
Negative keywords at the account level give back a bit of control over the keyword-based display. Certain search queries can thus be excluded across all campaigns. Experienced account managers can thus put the AI on the profitable track more quickly. With data from the past you can save yourself one or the other experiment. In addition, Performance Max can be directed to specific keyword segments in the Google search.
2 Campaign-level Brand Exclusions
This extension provides control over brand traffic within Performance Max campaigns. The brand exclusions can be used so that Performance Max campaigns no longer intervene in existing brand campaigns.
Because artificial intelligence in bidding quickly notices that brand terms lead to conversions relatively easily. The result was concealing brand conversions that “saved” the results of a performance max campaign if the results were poor. This mixed up the portions of traffic that should be targeted, to the detriment of advertisers.
The clear separation of brand traffic is thus possible again in a simple manner for most accounts in the search and shopping network.
3 Page Feeds for Performance Max
So far, Performance Max campaigns on the search network only offer two ways to drive traffic to landing pages. Full control or (almost) a free hand for Google. The free choice for Google means that the AI itself selects the most relevant landing pages in connection with the website inventory. If the “Final URL extension” function is not used, you get full control based on the entered landing pages for the asset groups. Exclusions of individual URLs complete the current setting options.
What is new is that page feeds (formerly also: business data feeds) can be submitted. These relate to the DSA feature of Performance Max campaigns. It is already known from large DSA campaigns that page feeds with hundreds or thousands of URLs allow machine input of target pages. The new feature is worth its weight in gold for lead campaigns that relate to large product ranges (e.g. for B2B campaigns or industries).
By the way: The feeds should not be confused with shopping feeds, which transmit the target pages for E-Commerce Performance Max anyway.
4 Re-Engagement Goals
If the focus of a Performance Max campaign is not necessarily only aimed at new customers, the new function should be interesting. Many online shops generate part of their sales from repeat buyers. If these are part of the Google Ads strategy, they can now be addressed more specifically. This offers more control over retaining and investing in your own customers in a Google Ads strategy.
The function could also be interesting for advertisers who have set the goal of “retention” – i.e. repeated contacts with brands and products.
Important: Re-engagement goals require input of first-party data in the form of customer list uploads to the AI. So can make these distinctions based on data.
5 Performance Max Experiments
Most recently, A/B testing was only available in beta and to select advertisers. Also, the functions were more limited to clarifying the value of a Performance Max campaign compared to other campaign types. It wasn’t always a really clean A/B test.
Rolling out the testing feature could now be helpful. Advanced features can now enable advertisers to perform tests that can increase performance over the long term. Regular tests with artificial intelligence should therefore be part of every campaign strategy.
6 Asset Creation Using Generative AI
One or the other Google Ads user might already be familiar with the forerunners of these functions from the automatic suggestions for ad texts. With Performance-Max campaigns, Google Ads is now “all-in”.
Text, images and videos will soon be able to be created with the help of generative AI. Be it a chatbot that writes ad texts or machine processing of conversion-optimized videos. You will soon be able to use an assistant in the form of artificial intelligence.
Tip: This does not yet represent full automation of creative processes, but it is still a massive relief. Nevertheless, one should avoid waving through overly generic ad components. Standing out from the competition and following an asset strategy can become much more valuable.
7 Performance and Value Insights
Or also: Google allows a look into the initial black box of the Performance Max campaign. The new insights allow more conclusions to be drawn about the best-performing targets, keyword sets or high-revenue segments. This now enables customized strategies and an allocation of budgets between multiple Performance Max campaigns or in the overall setup.
8 Improved Search Term Analysis
Another look into the initial black box, you could say. Search queries that drive traffic from a Performance Max campaign will soon be easier to view and export. An analysis, also for “feeding” the negative keywords at account level, will soon be better possible. Your own CPA or ROAS can benefit greatly from this.
9 Smart Bidding for Store Visits
Performance Max campaigns will soon also be available in isolated form for store visits. Conversions and goals of a Performance Max campaign are then linked to local campaigns and Google MyBusiness events (e.g. route planner on Google Maps). The feature is interesting for advertisers with many branches and high sales at the checkout. However, it runs as a separate campaign from the Ecommerce Performance Max campaigns.
The innovations announced by Google for 2023 will primarily bring more insights and control options. The development is therefore a step away from the “black box”, about which many advertisers complained at the beginning. The fact that Google responds to specific requests for more control by making appropriate adjustments is by no means a very common phenomenon. It’s worth noting, however, that Performance Max campaigns still work best as part of larger setups. The basis for success with Performance Max is a powerful tracking setup, clear definition of goals and a campaign strategy that uses the advertising budget for specific goals.
The sub-area of generative AI is likely to become particularly interesting in the near future. Assets such as text, images and videos created with the help of artificial intelligence can save a great deal of time and open up new opportunities for some advertisers.