Manager, Demand Generation

Group Media Director

Work Smarter, Not Harder: Rise’s Guide to Performance Max

Performance Max remains an integral part of the Google Ads ecosystem by regularly introducing new features and tools. Google’s goal-based, AI-powered campaign type takes the guesswork out of deciding which of your placements most deserves your next marketing dollar by algorithmically placing and optimizing ads across Google channels (think: YouTube, Display, Demand Gen, Gmail, etc.). However, what makes Performance Max especially different is that all ad types, messages, creatives, placements, etc., within a campaign, are competing against each other for the title of “best performer.” This automation allows for consistent learnings and new ad combinations to be discovered.

What Can Performance Max Do for You?

With Performance Max, brands can optimize toward multiple business goals with ease. It removes the need for many manual day-to-day optimizations, making campaign strategy and set-up that much more important. 

Targeting & Creative:

  • Combine broad match keywords and Smart Bidding to maximize conversions across all Google advertising channels. 
  • Enhance and discover image, video, and text assets (and combinations of each) that resonate best across Google within seconds.
  • Generate relevant text ads aligned with user intent using advanced AI technology that analyzes landing page content.

Improving Search Results:

  • Adding negative keywords at the account level to maintain brand suitability and exclude traffic that brands are not looking to reach
  • Applying different brand exclusions for Search and Shopping traffic or using shared lists across multiple Performance Max campaigns.


  • Increase brand visibility across not yet tested placements and audiences.
  • Easily experiment to determine how an updated campaign mix drives additional conversions or conversion value.

Performance Max advertisers achieve, on average, over 18% more conversions at a similar cost per action. Why? Ongoing advancements in the underlying AI technology for bidding, creative strategies, search query matching, and the integration of new formats like YouTube Shorts.

Powerful Pairing: Search + Performance Max

The above scenarios are all possible as a result of enhanced machine learning automation, but with Performance Max, it’s not all automation, all the time. Search + Performance Max is a power pairing designed to supplement advertisers’ manual campaigns — meaning it serves on all of Google’s inventory —  but allows the robust search campaign structure you have already built out in your account to still take hierarchical precedence over automation in most instances. For example:

In a Search campaign:

  • Exact Match keywords take precedence over a Performance Max campaign; 
  • For Broad and Phrase Match, whichever campaign (Performance Max or any of the aforementioned) that has the highest ad rank will take precedence.

In a Smart Shopping campaign:

  • Performance Max will take precedence over Shopping, Local Inventory, or Dynamic Display Remarketing ads
  • For all other Display ads, the campaign with the highest ad rank will take precedence.

In a Standard Shopping campaign:

  • Both a Shopping Ad on Search/Shopping and a Shopping Ad on Search Partners will favor a Performance Max campaign
  • However, for Shopping Ads on Gmail or YouTube, whichever campaign has the highest ad rank will take precedence.

In a Display campaign without a feed:

  •  Campaign with the highest ad rank will take precedence over Performance Max.

In a Display campaign with a feed:

  • Dynamic Remarketing campaigns will always favor Performance Max.
  • For all other Display ad types, the campaign with the highest ad rank will take precedence.
  • For Video, Demand Gen, and Local campaigns, whichever campaign has the highest ad rank will take precedence over Performance Max.

For Video, Demand Gen, and Local campaigns: 

  • Whichever campaign has the highest ad rank will take precedence over Performance Max.

Rise's Recommendations on Taking Performance Max to the Next Level

Now that we’ve made it through the basics and the updates, here is how Rise recommends putting Performance Max into practice:

1. Start with your audience and goals.

Segment and define your campaigns based on target audiences and goals. Think: Which product/service lines/personas are different enough in their offerings, structures, and needs that they warrant different messages from other creative groupings? To highlight different messages, consider leveraging separate asset groups or campaigns.

2. Improve your personalized storytelling.

Create a few different asset variations (images, videos, text headlines) for each segmented campaign and set up distinct asset groups to test combinations.

Each element should be able to function independently, regardless of which ad formats or creatives get “assigned” to which message via machine learning insights (this is why a segmented audience structure is so important!).

3. Utilize Google AI to create and scale assets.

Asset variety is a key ingredient for a successful Performance Max campaign and it can often be one of the hardest parts of building and optimizing a cross-channel campaign. With recent Google AI optimizations, users can generate new text and image assets and enhance existing images in just a few seconds, allowing them to reach customers across all of Google’s performance inventory and formats. With this, users will be able to test new variations of their usual hero images at scale. 

Performance Max takes performance data into consideration when suggesting or generating certain visual assets.

Shareable previews for all assets, including generated ones, are coming soon. This will simplify the creative review workflow and make it even easier for agencies and in-house marketing teams to share out creative concepts.

Once you’ve got your Performance Max campaign(s) set up using the above process, get ready to reap the benefits! Here are a couple of key results you can enjoy via this campaign’s usage:

  • A deep understanding of which of your creatives are most likely to drive value (and revenue!) with your target audiences.
  • An increase in incremental conversions, made possible by expanding the reach of your brand across Google properties.

4. Test, Analyze, Optimize.

Plan for sufficient funding and let the automation run for at least 4-6 weeks before evaluating and making changes. Connex®, our award-winning media optimization platform, is pivotal in bringing our cross-channel media management approach to life while ensuring performance transparency.

Machine learning, like any other kind, has a learning curve; therefore, fidgeting with the campaign during this time will hinder or delay meaningful learnings. If Target Efficiency (CPA or ROAS) will be used, ensure that daily budgets have ~5x the efficiency to test with. For smaller budgets, consider a more open-ended Maximize Conversions test to start with. For a more precise understanding, budget pacing insights help users automatically uncover opportunities to optimize budget and performance - including the analysis of projected spend, along with current and forecasted conversion performance.

If you’re ready to take the guesswork out of maximizing your Google Ads campaign performance, contact Rise today.

Originally published in 2022; updated in 2024.

02/26/2024 at 09:21