How to Optimize Google Performance Max Campaigns

Posted in: PPC

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What Is Performance Max? 

Performance Max is a type of Google Ads campaign that utilizes Google’s machine learning to optimize ad placement and bidding strategies. Performance Max is a goal-based campaign type and is the replacement for Smart Shopping campaigns. If you were previously using Smart Shopping campaigns, you’ll know that Google automatically upgraded these campaigns to Performance Max in September. 

Performance Max, as defined by Google, is a budget-based bidding option for Google Shopping campaigns that lets you set the maximum amount of money you want to spend on each auctioned ad, or bid. Performance Max was created to support your Search campaigns to help you find more customers across numerous Google channels such as YouTube, Display, Search, Discovery, and more. Although Performance Max replaced Smart Shopping, Performance Max can also be used outside of e-commerce. For the sake of this guide, however, we are going to focus on optimizing Performance Max for e-commerce ads, which requires an active Google Merchant Center for submitting product feeds.

If you’re hoping to level up your Performance Max campaigns, keep reading to learn the best practices, tips and tricks for getting optimal performance out of Performance Max. 

How To Optimize Performance Max Campaigns

Here are some ways you can optimize Performance Max campaigns:

  1. Create multiple asset groups
  2. Refine audience signals
  3. Improve Mercent Center feeds
  4. Utilize feed rules
  5. Organize listing groups

You can learn more about each one below!

Optimize Asset Groups 

Within Performance Max, you can create multiple asset groups. As defined by Google, an asset group is a set of creatives that will be used to create an ad depending on the channel it’s being served on. It’s a best practice to organize asset groups like you organize your ad groups, by a common theme. Typically, we recommend creating at least 1 asset group unless you plan on breaking your products out. For example, if you are a furniture dealer and want to reach your audience with all products with no particular priority, then create one asset group. If you’d like to create special copy for sofas vs sectionals, then create one asset group for sectionals and one for sofas. Within a single asset group, you are able to build out a fully optimized asset. 

These include: 

  • Up to 5 Headlines (30 characters)
  • Up to 5 Descriptions (90 characters)
  • Up to 5 Long descriptions (90 characters)
  • Up to 5 YouTube videos
  • Up to 20 Display images 
  • Up to 1 HTML5 file 
  • Up to 5 Logos
  • 4+ Sitelinks 
  • 1 CTA (using dropdown menu)

As a best practice, we recommend that you fill out as many of the available assets as possible utilizing the highest performing corresponding assets (search copy/display images/YouTube videos, etc). Google will provide you with an “optimization score” as you fill out the available information, and if you can achieve an “excellent” rating, your ad will be set up for success. If your asset group is seeing a “poor” rating, you’ll want to modify the ad until you see “good” or “excellent”.


Optimize the Asset Group Audience Signals

In addition to bulking up the headlines & descriptions, you now have the option to edit audience signals, which were not available in Shopping campaigns. Audience signals allow you to add audience suggestions that help Google Ads automation optimize for your selected goals. These signals can include In-Market, Custom, Demographic, and Remarketing audiences to further enhance performance. For example, if you were a high-end furniture dealer, you might want to select the age range of people that historically buy your products so that Google can help optimize towards this age range. You might also want to select the Demographic option of Household Income in the top 10, as these people might be more likely to purchase a more expensive sofa. There are also several In-Market audiences that could work great here, such as: Living Room Furniture, Modern Furniture, Sleeper Sofas, and Furniture. Finally, you should consider adding some Remarketing signals of users that have visited the site but have not completed a purchase in the last 90 days, for example. These are just some ideas, but Google has plenty of available options that will help enhance your campaign. 

Optimize the Google Merchant Center Feed

The first part of your feed optimization is checking for errors and warnings within your Google Merchant Center in the diagnostics section. The diagnostics section can be found under the Products section, and will show active, expiring, pending, and disapproved items.

Don’t worry, the campaign will still run with most errors, but those specific products will not be eligible to show on Google. The most common errors we see include mismatched prices (between the product listing & landing page), image errors, or unavailable landing pages. The affected products can easily be found in the diagnostics section with specific instructions on how to fix them. 

I recommend checking Google Merchant Center for errors and warnings every time you upload a new version of your feed, especially if it’s a significant change in format or structure. Most of the time, errors and warnings can be resolved by creating feed rules. 

Utilize Feed Rules

 Another tool provided to advertisers by Google is the feed rules that can be created within Google Merchant Center to better optimize product feeds. Feed rules give you the ability to transform your data to match our product data specification requirements. More specifically, feed rules allow the user to update most product attributes (brand, title, color, etc) with a specific “rule”, which can help address warnings and error messages. Feed rules are similar to the if-then function in basic programming: if a certain condition is met for a product, then your rule will be applied to it.  

For example, if a major holiday is coming up and you want to add “Holiday Sale” to your product titles but don’t want to modify the product titles on the website, you’ll be able to create a feed rule that essentially adds this phrase to the eligible product titles. 

Some of the most popular feed rules include: 

  • The addition of the brand name into the product title if this attribute is missing 
  • Adding extra variables to the product titles (ex: sale, savings, holiday sale)
  • Removing words or phrases from the product titles or descriptions
  • Adding the color, gender, age group, etc into the product title or descriptions

If you’re interested in learning more specific feed rules, as these get a bit technical, you can review those in Google’s article or within this blog by Store Growers.

Organize Listing Groups by Product Categories

As defined by Google, listing groups are made up of listings, which currently includes both products and collections (groups of products, assets, and rich retail data that represent a category landing page on your website). Listing groups are essentially eligible products that you choose to show within the asset group. 

Breaking down your listing groups (product listings) within each asset group will help you better adjust bids and show deeper ROI. Here are a few of the most common options on how to do this:  

  •       Group by product categories. For example, you would break down the products by furniture or hardware or sporting goods as the category.
  •       Group products by product type. For example, you would break down the products by furniture product type (sofas, sectionals, loveseats, beds, etc).
  •       Group products by custom labels (i.e. price points, AOV). For example, you might want to break out products into price buckets above and below $2,000. 

There are other options to subdivide the products, but these are the most basic way to segment within the listing group to see very specific ROI and the highest performing products. The structure you choose depends on your campaign goals and products you are hoping to sell.


We hope these tips will help you optimize your Performance Max campaigns. Remember that while it may take some time to see results, optimizing your campaign can make all the difference in how much money you make from it!

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