Jason Martin - Paid Search & Training Specialist

Jason Martin

24th November 2022

Is Google’s Performance Max Campaign Right For Me?

For our previous article we explained the origins of Performance Max, how to set up your first Performance Max campaign and how to measure the performance and results in Google Ads. In this piece we cover some example cases of when Performance Max could be right for your Google Ads strategy, and when you should focus on other campaign types.

When To Use Performance Max Campaigns

You Have High Conversion Volume

From our experience, accounts that have 100+ conversions a month have responded best to Performance Max as a campaign type, while those with 20-40 high value conversions per month typically struggled to run an efficient Performance Max campaign. If you are keen to try Performance Max, it is worth reviewing your conversion totals beforehand. 

If your products and services are low volume but high value, you could consider tracking micro-conversions within Performance Max to give Google the best chance of optimising your campaign whilst still working towards your goals. For example, if you have a small number of high value ecommerce conversions, you could add conversions for actions such as “Add To Basket”, “Begin Checkout” or “Account Sign-Up" to ensure that Google has enough data to work with, while also targeting people who are engaging more than the average user on your website.

Your Target Audience Is Easily Defined

If your targeting criteria, particularly in terms of in-market audiences, can be clearly defined by Google’s criteria then Performance Max becomes so much easier to set up and run. If the products or services in your target market don’t fluctuate too much, and you are confident that your ads can be both relevant and attractive to a wide audience within the market segment, then Performance Max can work. Examples are as follows: 

Example 1: If you are a retailer selling garden products, tools and equipment, then you have multiple in-market audiences to use: 

  • Garden & Outdoor Furniture 
  • Garden Sheds & Outdoor Structures 
  • Lawn Care & Gardening Supplies 
  • Lawn Mowers 

These are all clear, highly relevant, and relatively high volume to use as targeting. The products that sit within these categories are fairly clear as well – there is little room for misunderstanding when looking for a lawnmower or a sun lounger. 

Example 2: If you are an insurance provider, you can use the in-market audiences for: 

  • Car Insurance 
  • Health Insurance 
  • Home Insurance 
  • Life Insurance 
  • Travel Insurance 

Depending on the services you offer, these will be a great place to start for your targeting. At the basic level, the mass-market insurance needs, there is very little difference between car insurance products or home insurance products, so the audiences are likely to be highly relevant for your Performance Max campaign targeting. 

There are many more examples, but ultimately it is worth assessing who your target audience is, whether that audience is clearly recognised already in Google Ads and take it from there.

You Have Top-Level Performance Targets

If your success is judged at an overall account level, or even campaign level, then Performance Max could be a good option for you. Having a top-level target such as “Google Ads needs to drive a Target ROAS of 500%” or “my Google advertising needs to generate leads at £20 cost per lead” means that you aren’t necessarily impacted by the restricted bidding strategy approach that Performance Max campaigns use, whereby you can’t change the bidding targets except at campaign level. 

If you can benefit from the automated targeting, asset creation and results that a Performance Max campaign can drive without needing to worry about granular targets in your campaign, then it becomes a campaign type that is easy to manage and maintain.

When Not To Use Performance Max Campaigns

You Need Control

This is arguably the main drawback of Performance Max as a campaign type. It is the most automated campaign type available in terms of bidding, targeting and delivery. When it works, it works well – when it doesn’t, it can be hard to find the reason why. 

If you have bosses and managers that want micro-level detail of what your campaign is doing, whether certain products are showing in Google, or where your ads are ranking, then Performance Max may prove a headache.  

You can’t really see how often each Asset Group serves and you can't control how much one Asset Group shows against another in the same campaign. Bidding strategies and bids can only be set at campaign level and will affect all Asset Groups within the same campaign equally. Whilst this can be circumvented by setting up multiple Performance Max campaigns, it can be a pain logistically to create more and more campaigns for your product or service range if you have different targets for each.

You Have Low Conversion Volume

If the nature of your product or service is to generate a low number of conversions at a high cost per conversion, then Performance Max may not be the right campaign type for your business. 

Google needs good levels of volume to be able to self-optimise its campaigns and given that Performance Max is Google’s most automated campaign yet, the fate of your ad spend is very much in its hands. 

As discussed in an earlier segment, if you can add some micro conversions to your Performance Max goals to ensure that you build up a good level of conversions (aim for 100+ a month) then Google could optimise the traffic to meet those needs.  

But then you are still optimising for those conversions – if the highest volume and cheapest conversion to get is “Add To Cart” for example, then Google will aim for users who add your products to their cart, irrespective of whether they go on to buy the product or not.

Your Market Is Business To Business (B2B)

If your business’s products or services are aimed at other businesses based on a need they have, it is likely that the user searching for your products or services will be doing so as part of their job, most commonly from a work computer (a desktop device) during their working hours (9am-5pm for example). 

With that in mind, Search ads make a lot of sense to target your ideal customers. The person in your customer’s business searches for keywords or phrases related to your product on Google or Microsoft Bing, sees your ad and takes action. 

What about the rest of the Performance Max offering though - would Display banners, YouTube ads, Gmail ads and serving ads on mobile devices be the best use of your ad spend to reach such users? It’s a trade-off to consider, and we would advise looking at your historic performance to get a feel for what is right for you. For more guidance on B2B targeting in Google Ads and paid search marketing, you can check out our guides for lead generation and ecommerce.

Your Products Or Services Are Niche In Their Market

Performance Max may not be the right campaign type for you if you offer a specific or niche set of products or services within a wider market, leading to blurred lines in terms of what is and isn’t a good user to target. 

For example, you are a commercial cleaning company that doesn't take domestic or home cleaning jobs. The only in-market audiences available are Household Cleaning Supplies or Home Cleaning Services. This would either attract users who are looking to clean their building themselves, or those who are looking to hire cleaners to clean their homes. Neither of these are valuable audiences to your commercial cleaning business. Does Google know the difference between domestic and commercial cleaning? We’re not so sure. 

Another good example is footwear. There is an in-market audience for Trainers, but as everyone knows the range of trainers spans far and wide. Pricewise this can be anything from £20 to £200, and even £2,000 in some cases! 

If you are a retailer selling your high-end casual trainers for £300 or more, how do you use Performance Max to position yourself? It becomes quite complicated. In theory you would target people in-market for Trainers, but then your ads would become viable to show for everyone interested in trainers – including those who are shopping closer to the £20 level. Your conversion rates could take a serious hit with this, as the audience just wouldn’t be right.   

From there, Google may even choose to branch out audiences to the likes of Activewear and Sports & Fitness categories which, given you sell casual trainers, are not applicable to your targeting either. So now you are dealing with two types of audience that aren’t suited to your needs.


Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand more about Google’s Performance Max campaigns, and we hope it aids your decision making when managing your Google Ads account. If you have any questions or need any help with this, don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us on 01536 316100 and we will happily talk through your PPC marketing challenges with you. 

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