PPC Strategy, Next-Level Account Management: Pmax Updates that Elevated our Strategy in 2022March 17, 2023Eduard ShlahtichmanReading time: Performance Max campaigns (or as we call them dearly, “Pmax”) are the beginning of a new era when it comes to automation in Google Ads. They were launched as alpha tests in 2020, released for selected testing in 2021 and became officially available to all advertisers in November 2021. They combine practically all Google inventory into one campaign and rely on automated targeting and ad copy testing, thus bringing automation at its best across all networks. Here at Hop Online we were one of the first agencies to test Pmax in the beginning of 2021, and the results we got were incredible. Over time, Google has introduced various updates to the campaign settings and reporting, which have gradually enhanced the reporting and optimizing abilities of this campaign type. As a result, advertisers across the globe can rely on Pmax as a critical element of their Google Ads strategies, even if they have restricted access to data or control over performance. What’s the Latest in 2022? In a nutshell, the latest trends in Pmax campaigns include a shift towards audience targeting, leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning. But these are just a few of the exciting developments that happened in Pmax campaigns in 2022. To explore these trends and learn more about how you can improve your Pmax campaigns, we have compiled our PPC team’s insights in this comprehensive guide. We have managed to achieve a 150% conversion boost for Anytime Mailbox. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the world of Pmax campaigns and discover the latest strategies for maximizing your digital advertising efforts.Performance Max is replacing Google Smart Shopping and Local adsIn 2022, the most significant improvement in campaign type management was the upgrade of Smart Shopping and Local Ads campaigns to Performance Max. Advertisers had to manually carry out the transition and migration of campaigns, which took almost a year to complete. Integrated tools within the Google Ads platform were utilized to finish the task. Additionally, it completely changed the way we create and manage campaigns. While most settings and features were the same and we still had some visibility, (e.g. in the Listing Groups tab in the Pmax campaigns with feed), there were major upgrades when it came to automation and visibility of specific ad/audience performance.The NCA Upgrade (or New Customer Acquisition Goal)The goal of this setting was to focus the algorithm on new higher value customers instead of reaching new and re-engaged users alike. It had two modes: New Customer Only mode which excluded returning users from the campaign audience targeting, and New Customer Value mode which added an additional customer acquisition value. This value was set in the campaign settings for the new users’ first purchase or conversion action. The first mode is more suitable for lead gen companies, while the second helps ecommerce companies find more new customers by increasing their value in front of the algorithm. It’s applicable only when the Pmax uses a value-based bidding strategy to elevate conversionsUpdate in Insights tabThe lack of granular reporting was one of the biggest pain points from the alpha test stage. To address this, Google integrated the Insights tab within the Pmax’ interface, and continuously grew the insights provided there. The most important updates we saw in 2022 were the following:Search Terms Insights – which search terms the Pmax ads were shown in the last 28 days);Audience Insights – which of the audiences Google targeted with Pmax ads converted the best;Diagnostic Insights – showing possible issues with your campaign in terms of budget, conversion tracking, policies and even ad strength. Additionally, we can see demand forecasts, change history insights, auction insights and performance shifts that provide a deeper look into the way Pmax works and how to replicate its success to the other campaign types. Improvement in Video AssetsIf you’re looking to maximize the impact of your PMax campaigns, it’s crucial to invest in high-quality video assets that engage your audience and drive conversions. To achieve the maximum impact, PMax campaigns started introducing new types of formats and other updates.Inclusion of YouTube shortsInitially, Pmax campaigns focused only on the main video ad formats on YouTube. Now automated campaign types also support YouTube Shorts. Feel free to explore this new video format and add it to your assets groups to improve reach amongst YouTube’s trendy video format.Increase of Headlines It might seem like a small update, but increasing the number of headlines that were available in the Pmax ad format from 5 to 15 improved the algorithm’s ability to learn and gave it more assets to aA/B test and match to the different intent of the users. Additionally, it helped bring uniformity to the automated ad formats across campaign types, thus syncing RSAs with Pmax ads and making it easier to test more ad copy elements in Pmax as well. Compatibility With Performance PlannerInclusivity in Performance Planner gave advertisers the opportunity to forecast results from their Pmax campaigns when increasing budget or changing targets. This tool is a must when planning quarterly or yearly budgets and can run simulations based on different parameters for target ROAS, ad spend and so on.Placements List ReportsWithout the ‘Content in the Performance Max Campaigns’ tab, we couldn’t see “Where ads were shown” in the interface .Google addressed this by adding “Performance Max campaigns placement” report to the Predefined Reports (Dimensions) tab under the category “Other”. You can comb through the placements list sorted by impressions and add anything you might consider irrelevant to the Content Placement Exclusion list on Account level. Expanded conversion settings Having the ability to add “Seasonality adjustments” or “Data exclusions” is very useful around seasonal events, or when you want to guide the algorithm into ignoring certain periods of time. Considering that Pmax runs exclusively on Smart bidding strategies, enabling seasonality adjustments and data exclusions for Pmax was just a matter of time.Asset group scheduling Using automated rules comes in handy especially during weekends, vacations or sales periods.This allows us to automatically schedule asset groups with promo content to be paused or enabled, without a need for manual action at midnight on a holiday, for example. What’s Next for Pmax?We are all expecting Google to continue launching new features such as more granular reporting, adding of App promo inventory, or providing us more options for control and experimenting on the asset level. Google is striving to make Pmax the go-to campaign for expansion beyond Search for every advertiser. While it’s still highly automated, every update gives us a better look into how this campaign type works and how to use it to maximize ROI for our accounts across industries and markets.If you want to dive deeper into the tricks of our PPC team, you can explore our 6 actionable PPC tips for improved performance!