Feed only performance max

Why I Don't Use 'Feed Only' Performance Max Campaigns

Feb 13, 2023

One question that I get asked time and time again is, what are my thoughts on ‘Feed Only’ Performance Max campaigns?

In this article, we delve into these campaigns, a strategy that has been the subject of much discussion on platforms like Reddit and YouTube. The core question we address is: Are 'Feed Only' Performance Max campaigns a viable strategy, or do they represent a misguided approach in the realm of digital advertising?

I provide my perspective on this strategy, grounded in my experience and understanding of Google Ads' intricacies. We will explore how these campaigns align with the intended design of Performance Max offerings by Google, and why diverging from this design might not be the most strategic move.

A Quick Recap of Performance Max Campaigns

Before diving into the specifics, let’s establish a clear understanding of what Performance Max campaigns are and how they are designed to function within the Google Ads ecosystem.

  • Performance Max campaigns are a type of Google Ads campaign that allows advertisers to access all of Google's inventory from a single campaign. This includes the Google Search Network, Display Network, YouTube, Gmail, and Google Shopping.
  • The primary aim of these campaigns is to utilise Google's machine learning to automatically optimise ad placements and bidding strategies across all these channels. This approach is designed to maximise the performance of ads based on the advertiser's specified goals, such as generating leads, driving sales, or increasing web traffic.

Key Features

  • Automated Optimization: Leveraging Google's advanced algorithms, Performance Max campaigns automatically find the best combination of ad placements and formats to achieve the advertiser's objectives.
  • Broad Reach Across Networks: These campaigns are designed to cast a wide net, utilising multiple Google platforms to reach potential customers wherever they are in the digital space.
  • Goal-focused: Advertisers set specific goals for their campaigns, and Google's machine learning optimises ad delivery to meet these objectives.

Intended Use

  • Google designed Performance Max campaigns to be versatile and comprehensive, intended to provide a holistic approach to digital advertising.
  • By utilising a range of Google's networks, these campaigns are meant to offer a more integrated and efficient way of reaching a diverse audience, as opposed to focusing on a single channel.

The Issue with 'Feed Only' Performance Max Campaigns

Having established what Performance Max campaigns are designed for, we can now delve into the specifics of the 'Feed Only' approach and why it may be considered problematic or less effective than intended by Google.

The 'Feed Only' Strategy Explained

  • A 'Feed Only' Performance Max campaign is a strategy where advertisers limit their campaigns to only use the Google Shopping feed, essentially restricting ads to appear solely on Google Shopping.
  • This approach goes against the core principle of Performance Max campaigns, which is to leverage multiple Google networks for broader reach and optimization.

Why 'Feed Only' Goes Against Google's Design

  • Limited Reach: By focusing solely on Google Shopping, 'Feed Only' campaigns miss out on the extensive reach and varied audience engagement opportunities provided by other networks like YouTube, Display, and Gmail.
  • Reduced Optimization Potential: Google's algorithms in Performance Max campaigns are designed to learn and optimise across different networks. Limiting a campaign to just one feed constraints these optimization capabilities.

Risks of Deviating from Core Settings

  • Algorithmic Disadvantages: Performance Max campaigns are built with specific algorithms that are fine-tuned to work across multiple networks. Using 'Feed Only' campaigns might lead to suboptimal use of these algorithms, potentially leading to poorer performance.
  • Potential for Missed Opportunities: By not utilising the full spectrum of channels available in Performance Max, advertisers might miss out on reaching their target audience in environments where they are more engaged or likely to convert.

While some advertisers advocate for the 'Feed Only' approach, often it is suggested as a last resort rather than a primary strategy. These advocates generally recommend it as a “Hail Mary” strategy, to be employed when other more holistic approaches have not yielded the desired results.

Core Challenges in Performance Max Campaigns

Often, the inclination towards the ‘Feed only’ strategy is a response to underlying issues in campaign management. Identifying and addressing these issues can lead to more effective use of Performance Max campaigns.

Improper Campaign Structure

  • A common issue with Performance Max campaigns is incorrect setup and structure. This includes targeting the wrong audience, incorrect budget allocation, or misaligned campaign goals.
  • A well-structured campaign aligns closely with business objectives and targets the right audience, ensuring that the full potential of Performance Max's reach across networks is utilised.

Inadequate Optimization Practices

  • Performance Max campaigns require continual optimization and monitoring. This includes adjusting bids, refining target audiences, and updating ad assets based on performance data.
  • Failure to regularly optimise can lead to stagnant or underperforming campaigns. Effective optimization is key to harnessing the dynamic capabilities of Google's machine learning algorithms.

Poor Quality of Ad Assets

  • The effectiveness of any digital campaign heavily relies on the quality of its ad assets, including ad copy, images, and videos.
  • Underperforming campaigns often suffer from unengaging or irrelevant ad assets. High-quality, compelling ad assets are crucial for attracting attention and encouraging clicks.

Non-User-Friendly Landing Pages

  • The landing page experience is a critical component of campaign success. Even with the most optimised Google Ads campaign, a poor landing page can drastically reduce conversion rates.
  • A user-friendly, engaging, and relevant landing page is essential for converting ad clicks into meaningful customer actions, such as purchases or sign-ups.

To help you with the first 2 issues, if you follow the link in the video description below, you can get free access to these 2 amazing tools:

  1. My Performance Max account set-up guide which will help you set up your PMax campaign correctly.
  2. My Google Ads eCommerce optimisation checklist, which lets you know exactly what you need to optimise in your Performance Max campaign every 72 hours, every week, every month & every 90 days.

Improving Campaign Setup and Optimization

To enhance the effectiveness of Performance Max campaigns and avoid the pitfalls of a 'Feed Only' strategy, we need to focus on proper campaign setup and continuous optimization. This section offers guidance on achieving a well-structured Performance Max campaign and maintaining its optimization over time.

Effective Campaign Setup

  • Goal Alignment: Ensure your Performance Max campaign goals align with your overall business objectives. Whether it’s increasing sales, generating leads, or driving traffic, your campaign settings should reflect these goals.
  • Audience Targeting: Utilise Google’s audience targeting options wisely. Define your audience based on demographics, interests, behaviours, and past interactions with your brand to ensure your ads reach the right people.
  • Budget Allocation: Allocate your budget according to your campaign goals and the expected cost per acquisition (CPA). A well-balanced budget ensures you don’t overspend on underperforming areas and miss out on more lucrative opportunities.

Continuous Campaign Optimization

  • Regular Monitoring: Performance Max campaigns require ongoing attention. Regularly review your campaign’s performance data to understand what's working and what's not.
  • Bid Adjustments: Based on performance data, adjust your bids for different segments of your audience or for different times of the day or week to optimise ad spend efficiency.
  • Ad Asset Refresh: Continuously update and refresh your ad assets, including copy, images, and videos, to keep your campaign relevant and engaging. Test different variations to see what resonates best with your audience.

Utilising Optimization Tools and Resources

  • Google Ads Tools: Leverage Google Ads tools such as the Keyword Planner for better keyword targeting and the Performance Planner for forecasting and scenario planning.
  • Third-Party Tools: Consider using third-party tools for additional insights and automation features that can complement Google’s native tools.

Learning from Analytics

Analyse the data from your campaign to understand user behaviour, conversion paths, and the overall customer journey. Use these insights to make informed decisions about future campaign strategies.

Enhancing Ad Assets in Performance Max Campaigns

Effective ad assets – including ad copy, images, and videos – are fundamental to the success of Performance Max campaigns. They do more than just attract attention; they play a pivotal role in the campaign's overall performance.

Creating Compelling Ad Copy 

The ad copy should be clear, concise, and directly relevant to the target audience, effectively conveying the value proposition of your product or service. Including a strong call-to-action (CTA) is crucial for guiding users towards the desired action. Employing A/B testing for different versions of ad copy can help determine which resonates best with your audience.

Optimising Images and Videos 

In Performance Max campaigns, the visual appeal of your ads is crucial. Using high-quality images and videos is important not only for catching the user's eye but also for reflecting the quality of your brand. These visuals should be consistent with your brand's image and adaptable across different platforms and screen sizes, considering that Performance Max campaigns span across various Google networks.

Monitoring and Improving Ad Asset Performance 

It’s essential to monitor the performance of your ad assets in terms of metrics like click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates. Identifying and replacing underperforming assets can help keep your campaign content fresh and effective. Utilising insights from Google Ads can provide valuable information on how your assets are performing across different networks, enabling you to fine-tune your strategy.

Landing Page Optimization for Enhanced Campaign Performance

The success of Performance Max campaigns heavily relies on the effectiveness of the landing pages. A well-optimised landing page can significantly boost conversion rates and enhance the overall performance of your digital advertising efforts.

Seamless Alignment with Ad Content

The content and design of the landing page must be in harmony with the ad's message and visuals. Consistency between the ad and the landing page reassures users that they have arrived at the right place, reducing bounce rates and encouraging conversions.

User-Friendly Design and Speed

A landing page that loads quickly and is easy to navigate is crucial in maintaining user interest. In today's fast-paced digital environment, users expect immediate access to information. Additionally, ensuring the landing page is optimised for mobile devices is essential, considering the substantial amount of traffic originating from smartphones and tablets.

Clear and Compelling Calls-to-Action

The calls-to-action (CTAs) on the landing page should be clear and prominently placed. They guide users towards taking the desired action, be it making a purchase, signing up, or downloading content. The effectiveness of these CTAs often plays a decisive role in converting visits into tangible outcomes.

Continuous Testing and Improvement

Regular testing and refinement of various elements on the landing page, like headlines, images, and layout, can help in identifying the most effective configurations. Utilising analytics tools to understand user behaviour on the page provides insights for ongoing optimization.

Incorporating User Feedback

Actively seeking and incorporating user feedback into the landing page design can lead to significant improvements. User inputs can reveal aspects of the page that are working well and areas that need enhancement.

Alternatives to 'Feed Only' Strategy in Performance Max Campaigns

While the 'Feed Only' strategy in Performance Max campaigns has its proponents, there are more effective alternatives that leverage the full capabilities of Google Ads. These alternatives not only adhere to the intended design of Performance Max campaigns but also offer a more holistic approach to digital advertising.

Integrating Multiple Google Networks

The strength of Performance Max campaigns lies in their ability to span across Google's extensive network, including search, display, YouTube, Gmail, and shopping. By integrating these platforms into your campaign, you increase the chances of reaching your target audience in a variety of contexts, enhancing overall campaign effectiveness.

Leveraging Smart Bidding and Machine Learning

Google Ads offers advanced machine learning and smart bidding strategies that optimise bids in real-time based on a multitude of signals. Utilising these features allows for more efficient use of your budget and can improve campaign performance by targeting users more likely to convert.

Diverse Ad Formats and Creative Strategies

Experimenting with a range of ad formats – such as video ads, responsive display ads, and dynamic search ads – can help in engaging with your audience in more creative and impactful ways. Different ad formats resonate differently across various audience segments, and their use can significantly boost campaign performance.

Data-Driven Audience Targeting

Employing data-driven insights for audience targeting can enhance the effectiveness of your campaigns. By analysing user behaviour, preferences, and previous interactions with your brand, you can tailor your ads to more precisely match the needs and interests of your target audience.