Performance Max Asset Groups

Stop Making This MISTAKE With Performance Max Asset Groups

google ads performance max Oct 24, 2022

Since the introduction of Performance Max campaigns people have been rushing to share their strategies for success - without really testing whether these strategies actually work - in the long term - or if they are just thought bubbles that might get a little bit of success for a couple of weeks.

There has been one popular strategy that has been pushed regularly about P/Max campaigns that has never made sense to me and what’s worse plainly it just doesn’t work.

Right now I am getting a constant stream of emails from people saying that their Performance Max campaigns will see success for a couple of months with the results then dropping away really fast.

When I have looked at these campaigns they have one thing in common in that they are using the same strategy.

This has made it clear that is one of those things where one channel will share this strategy on YT as a thought bubble and then before you know it we have multiple channels saying the same thing.

Then you as the viewer keep finding the same answer to your questions about the best way to structure your asset groups in Performance and before you know it becomes the accepted practice.

When in fact it was just a random idea.

The Misguided Strategy: Asset Groups Based on Audiences & Keywords

The problematic strategy in question involves the creation of asset groups in Performance Max campaigns based on distinct audience segments and keywords. It's a method that intuitively appeals to many marketers, as it seems to offer a customized and targeted approach to campaign management. Typically, this strategy involves setting up different asset groups for various targets:

  • Asset Group for Remarketing Audiences: Focusing on users who have previously interacted with your website or products.
  • Asset Group for Product-Based Keywords: Targeting users based on specific keywords related to your products.
  • Asset Group for Competitor Websites: Aiming at audiences interested in your competitors.

The strategy then involves monitoring these groups and, based on initial results, combining the best-performing audiences into new asset groups within the same campaign.

While this approach might sound logical, it fundamentally misunderstands how Performance Max campaigns are designed to operate. The initial appeal is clear: by segmenting audiences, marketers feel they can tailor their messaging and offerings more precisely. However, this segmentation leads to a narrow focus that can actually hinder the campaign’s potential reach and effectiveness.

A critical point to understand is Google's method of handling audience signals in asset groups. When you set up an audience in a Performance Max campaign, Google uses this as a starting point but then extends beyond these parameters to find the best-performing audiences. This extension is based on Google's advanced algorithms and machine learning capabilities, which are designed to optimize campaign performance across a broader range of potential customers.

What this means for the segmented asset group strategy is that the time and effort spent on meticulously creating these groups may be in vain. Google's algorithms are already working to extend beyond these narrow audience segments. Moreover, in practice, asset groups with higher impressions often overshadow others, garnering most of the clicks and impressions. This dominance renders the careful segmentation of smaller groups relatively ineffective.

This strategy also contradicts Google's own recommendations for setting up Performance Max campaigns. Google advises a different approach, which we will discuss in the upcoming section. By going against these recommendations, marketers might inadvertently be limiting the full potential of their campaigns.

Why This Strategy Fails

The strategy of segmenting asset groups in Performance Max campaigns based on specific audiences and keywords, while popular, fails to align with the fundamental workings of Google's advertising algorithms. There are several key reasons why this approach is ineffective:

Google's Use of Audience Signals 

When setting up an audience signal in asset groups, Google's intention is not to strictly adhere to these parameters. Instead, these signals are used as a starting point. Google's algorithms then expand beyond the set audiences to find the best possible options for conversion. This means that the meticulous segmentation of audiences becomes less impactful, as Google's system is designed to optimize targeting beyond these predefined groups.

Dominance of High-Impression Asset Groups 

In practice, certain asset groups tend to accumulate higher impressions and clicks, overshadowing the performance of other groups. This imbalance often leads to a scenario where a few asset groups consume the majority of the campaign's resources, reducing the effectiveness of the carefully segmented smaller groups. This results in a disproportionate allocation of the campaign’s budget and attention, diminishing the intended benefits of segmentation.

Contradiction with Google's Recommendations 

The strategy of basing asset groups on audiences and keywords goes against Google's own guidelines for Performance Max campaigns. Google recommends structuring these campaigns around different principles, specifically focusing on product categories and sections as they appear on your website. This approach is more aligned with how Google's algorithms are designed to optimize campaign performance.

Inefficiency and Resource Wastage 

The effort and resources invested in creating and managing multiple finely segmented asset groups can be substantial. However, given that Google's algorithms are engineered to extend beyond these narrow segments, this effort may not yield proportional returns. Marketers might find themselves investing significant time in a strategy that does not contribute to improved performance or better ROI.

Misunderstanding of Google's Smart Learning 

Performance Max campaigns leverage Google's Smart Learning capabilities, which are constantly evolving and adapting to find the most effective ways to reach potential customers. Attempting to outmaneuver or overly constrain this system with rigid audience segmentation can be counterproductive. It's essential to understand and work with, rather than against, the strengths of Google's machine learning in these campaigns.

Effective Strategy for Performance Max Campaigns

Implementing Google's recommendations requires a strategic shift in how you structure your Performance Max campaigns. Instead of focusing on audiences and keywords, the emphasis should be on your core product categories. Here's how to effectively execute this strategy:

Structure Asset Groups Around Product Categories

  • Organize your asset groups based on the main categories of products you offer.
  • This could mean having separate asset groups for different types of products, like electronics, clothing, home goods, etc.

Incorporate a Variety of Assets

  • For each product category, include a diverse range of assets (images, videos, headlines, descriptions).
  • Ensure these assets are representative and appealing, showcasing the best aspects of your products.

Optimize for Google's Machine Learning

  • Allow Google's algorithms to extend their reach beyond your initial setup.
  • Trust in the system to find the best audience for your products based on the categories you've defined.

Monitor and Refine

  • Regularly review the performance of each asset group.
  • Make adjustments as needed, but avoid over-segmentation or excessive tweaking that could hinder the learning algorithm.

Focus on Clear, Comprehensive Representations

  • Each asset group should give a clear and comprehensive representation of its respective product category.
  • This clarity helps Google's algorithms effectively match your products with the right audience.

Streamline Your Campaign Management

  • By simplifying the structure of your campaigns around product categories, you can reduce the complexity and time spent on managing them.
  • This streamlined approach can lead to more efficient use of your resources and time.

Align Your Strategy with Consumer Shopping Behaviors

  • Remember that organizing by product categories aligns with how consumers typically search and shop.
  • This alignment can improve the relevancy of your ads and enhance the overall shopping experience for your audience.

By adopting this product category-focused approach, you can create Performance Max campaigns that are more in sync with Google's advertising system and consumer behavior. This strategy not only aligns with Google's recommendations but also sets the stage for more sustained and effective campaign performance.