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This blog post will cover everything you need to know about Google Performance Max campaigns: from how it utilizes machine learning to whether or not this campaign type is right for you, as well as how you can get started with Performance Max.


What is Performance Max?
What network does Performance Max run on?
What are the main benefits of using Performance Max?
Drawbacks of using Performance Max
Should Performance Max replace my other search campaigns?
Is Performance Max right for me?
Why your performance data is vital
Reporting on Performance Max
Who should use Performance Max?
How to get started with Performance Max
Performance Max requirements
Google's Performance Max best practices
What are the alternatives to Performance Max?
Additional resources

What is Performance Max?

Having launched in November 2021, Performance Max campaigns are one of Google’s most recent offerings for advertisers. As of September 2022, all Smart Shopping campaigns have been replaced by this new campaign type. You may also see Performance Max referred to as "PMax" around the internet.

This new campaign type is goal-based and lets advertisers show their ads across Google’s advertising channels, including Search, Display, Discover, Maps, Gmail, and YouTube.

What network does Performance Max run on?

Performance Max ads run across the entire Google Network, which is one of its selling points. 

Performance Max campaigns can serve on Search, Display, YouTube, Gmail, and Discovery. This means your ads could be shown to a wide variety of different audiences. 

What are the main benefits of using Performance Max?

Ultimately, Performance Max’s main selling point is that it saves retailers and advertisers time and effort spent manually managing campaigns. Once you’ve set the goals of your campaigns and your budget, Google automates your campaign for you.

Change all campaigns in one place

Since Performance Max provides users with a simple way of getting their ads displayed across multiple platforms, the unified campaigns cover more platforms than Smart Shopping campaigns can, again reducing time spent managing your cross-platform campaigns.

Find new audience segments

This campaign type also aims to help advertisers unlock new audience segments: with a real-time understanding of customer intent and behavior, ads are targeted toward interested and relevant shoppers.

Creative control over asset groups

Since you upload your own creative assets to Performance Max campaigns, you have some control over the appearance and content appearing in your ads. Google also provides a Combinations Report where you can see the best-performing assets.

Drawbacks of using Performance Max?

To put it plainly, Performance Max seriously hinders control over your campaigns and the performance data you get from them. That’s easily said, but what exactly do we mean? Let’s dive in.

Lack of control

Since the AI constructs ads using different assets, the advertiser has limited control over the ads produced. If a strong brand image is important to your business, Performance Max could limit your ability to maintain your branding safely.

Researching the experiences of retailers trialing the Performance Max beta tool returns a number of issues. While retailers have seen an initial improvement in performance, the technology seems to run awry.

Similarly, PPC managers must provide thorough information and collateral for asset groups. Failure to spend sufficient time providing matching assets can result in poor ads thrown together by Performance Max, namely their auto-generated videos.

Usually, advertisers on Google can use dayparting to better target their ideal audiences. However, retailers using Performance Max are unable to control the time of day their ads are served, leaving ads to serve randomly.

Cut wasted ad spend and boost ROAS from Google Shopping ads with dayparting

Audience Signals

With Audience Signals, Performance Max targets audiences by their likelihood of converting. However, amidst growing privacy restrictions, it's becoming increasingly difficult to collect data on user behaviour. Unlike Google's automated tools, Bidnamic targets search terms with a strong likelihood of converting. 

Discover how Bidnamic targets search terms using purchase intent

Lack of data

Mounting privacy protection on iOS devices continues to restrict data retention, making it more difficult again to target audiences, which is what Performance Max aims to achieve.

Just like Smart Shopping, Performance Max black-boxes your invaluable performance data, preventing you from understanding the search terms your audience uses. This is important as this data can be used in your SEO and social media channels, as well as to inform other business decisions like what to stock, how much of it, and when.

But that's not all. Smart Shopping restricted data access, but this only applied to Smart campaigns on the Shopping channel. Performance Max restricts performance data across all the campaigns their campaigns run on, so retailers can't see how their ads perform on different channels.

Finally, Performance Max prevents the retailers from accessing the performance of their campaigns at the SKU level. This means retailers could be grossly overspending for their sales, or on the other hand, bidding too little and missing out on valuable traffic.

Learn how Bidnamic bids at the SKU level

Should Performance Max replace my other search campaigns?

All Smart Shopping and Local campaigns have now been automatically upgraded to Performance Max. The new Performance Max campaigns are informed by your previous campaign data, and any historical data remains available to you.

It’s recommended that you run Performance Max campaigns alongside your keyword-based search campaigns, as Google’s machine learning algorithm needs the information for your Performance Max targeting to be effective.

Is Performance Max right for me?

If you're an advertiser looking to appear on all of Google’s advertising platforms using a single campaign, Performance Max might be for you. 

In fact, smaller businesses managing their ad campaigns in-house may benefit most from Performance Max, taking advantage of the unified campaign approach without needing to delve too deeply into strategy.

Why your performance data is vital

Having full access to your campaign performance data is vital. From understanding how your money is being spent to improve your campaigns, to knowing where your money’s going, data is incredibly valuable.

Much like Google Smart Shopping, Performance Max is a ‘black box’ and lacks transparency. Without this data, you’ll miss out on key information that could hugely impact your performance.

To beat your competition, you need access to all of your data from Google Shopping ads

Without audience data, you’ll miss out on executing effective social ads and retargeting campaigns. On top of that, search term data is a great way to inform your SEO strategy as well as social and email marketing campaigns.

Reporting on Performance Max

As mentioned above, reporting and data transparency on Performance Max is an issue for retailers. This problem has been carried forward from Smart Shopping.

Users cannot report on individual assets, making it difficult to see what could be changed to improve campaigns. Instead, you can only see a general overview.

While you can inform the targeting of your ads, you receive no information about how targeting is performing. You get no information about who is seeing your ad, which is vital for monitoring performance. 

Reporting on Performance Max has many shortcomings and isn't a good option for retailers looking to have access to all of their campaign data to maximize their efforts.

Who should use Performance Max?

Performance Max campaigns can work successfully for retailers who lack the time to optimize for each channel and find it difficult to optimize different campaign types. 

It will also work well for advertisers who want their ads to be displayed across the entire Google Network without having to set up individual campaigns.

How to get started with Performance Max

Setting up a Performance Max campaign is a relatively simple process.

Read more to set up your Performance Max campaigns

Performance Max requirements

To start testing out Performance Max, you’ll need to provide the assets below:


  • Three 30-character headlines
  • Two 90-character descriptions
  • One 90-character headline


  • One 600x316px landscape image
  • One 300x300px square image
  • One 314x314px square image
  • One 128x128px logo image

The max file size for images is 5,120KB.


Video is recommended but is an optional asset.

Any video provided must be more than 10 seconds in length.

After you’ve supplied the above assets, Performance Max can start automating ads that will serve across the Google Network, including Google Display.

Google's Performance Max best practices

  • Identify which goals matter the most to you, like increasing sales or generating leads, and optimize your campaign to help achieve them
  • Upload a selection of creative assets such as text, video, and images so that Google’s machine learning algorithm has more options to test out
  • Add audience signals to make sure your ads are being served to the correct demographic
  • Keep the Final URL Expansion feature turned on to help you find newly converting search queries

What are the alternatives to Performance Max?

Google Shopping agencies

Lots of marketers like the control that comes from managing campaigns manually. It allows you to adjust bids based on unique variables, for example, stock availability.

But hundreds of campaign metrics, thousands of products, and tens of thousands of search terms mean that staying on top of Google Shopping management has gone beyond what humans can manage.

Specialist PPC agencies use scripts or third-party tools, often spreadsheet-based, to automate reporting and generate optimization suggestions. These then need to be analyzed, and the best of them implemented manually using some form of block bidding.

Bidnamic: advanced machine learning, years of human expertise

Bidnamic’s technology platform is an automated solution that utilizes both machine learning and human expertise.

Find out more about how Performance Max compares to Bidnamic

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