Performance Max – how to profit using hidden data – part 1

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What is Performance Max?

Let’s start with a quick refresher on Google Ads.

As a consumer wandering around the interwebs you’re likely to bump into many different types of Ads, paid for by Google’s advertisers.

If you search Google, you’ll probably see text ads & maybe (if you searched for a physical product) a few shopping ads too (shown above).

Of course on Youtube you’ll see video ads (some skippable, some not).

On 2 million other sites (& a million apps) you might see some form of banner ad. And on Google Maps you might see an ad about a local store.

As a marketer you might think in terms of top/middle & bottom of the mythical ‘funnel’ and choose where to spend your marketing dollars depending on your business objectives… typically boiled down to ‘more awareness’ or ‘performance marketing’. Growth or Profit, the age-old choice.

If you were a trillion dollar search business whose name rhymes with Froogle you might have made billions serving ads to those ‘performance’ marketers, but lately you’ve been eyeing off the huge piles of ‘awareness’ dollars still spent on TV, radio, outdoor & all those other media channels.

So much so, that you might decide it’s high time that those pesky performance marketers started spending more money ‘further up the funnel’. After all it’ll be good for them… they’ll create more awareness for their brand & ultimately that will cause more people to buy. Win win!

And so ‘performance max’ was born. Jokes about the name aside, it’s touted by Google as a way for “performance advertisers to access all of their Google Ads inventory from a single campaign”.

Why would you use Performance Max Campaigns?

It sounds easy right? Access all that inventory from one campaign. Less to set up, less to manage.

You just load up all the various elements of your ads (snippets of text, images, videos & a list of all your products from your store) and Google will do the work of figuring out which of those elements to combine into an ad, where to show that ad, what to charge you for it & more.

You just need to give the Machine a target to aim for – typically this is a target ‘return on ad spend’ (tROAS) that tells the Machine for every $1 of ad spend, I need $x in revenue. That might be $3 or $7 or $14 for each $1 of ad spend. Anything you like. (more on setting targets later).

And while social media is often great at starting a buyer’s journey, Google is often the last step before someone buys. So getting an ad in front of someone specifically looking for the products you sell has to be a good thing, right?

So what’s the big problem?


Or rather a lack of it. There’s very little data available for your PMax campaigns – which means limited insights & limited actions you can take to improve things.

As a marketer you want to know …

  • which of all of those channels you’re spending money in
  • which creatives are working & which need to be refreshed
  • are your campaigns focused on finding new customers, and more

‘Out of the box’ your PMax campaign won’t answer those questions. 

However we’ve found a way to give you that data, so you can take back control & take action to make your campaigns more profitable.

And all you need to do is cut & paste a bit of code into your account (sounds hard, but it isn’t).

The solution we created for the community

A ‘script’ in Google Ads terms is a piece of code that you run inside your account. Scripts can do many useful things (change bids, delete poor ads, pause campaigns & more). This one pulls data from your account & sends it to a Google Sheet so you can visualise what’s happening in your account & get insights that just aren’t possible when using the ‘regular’ Google Ads in your browser.

Scripts sound geeky & hard, but all you have to do is cut & paste the code we’ve created – we’ve even got a video to show you how:

Get the script from

Once you’ve followed the steps in the video, you’ll have a sheet (that only you can see). 

It does a few things.

By far the most popular is to show the split of your campaign spend (& results) across the main 4 ‘channels’ of Shopping, Video, Display & Search/Other.

Note, it isn’t perfect – Google simply doesn’t give us perfect data – and we’ve made some assumptions (detailed in the tabs of the sheet if you really want to know more).

The approximate spend on each channel is calculated & charted. It looks like this:

Let’s walk through those 6 areas

  1. A dropdown list of all of your Performance Max campaigns – choose one from the list & the chart below changes (3). The campaign you choose is also highlighted on the right (4)
  2. The total cost across all of your PMax campaigns in the past 30 days
  3. A chart showing the percentage spend on the 4 different channels: shopping, video, display & search/other (see below)
  4. A list of your campaigns with a sparkline showing the trends in cost (past 30 days) for each of the 4 channels
  5. A stacked bar chart showing the % of spend on the 4 channels for all campaigns
  6. A bar chart showing the actual spend for all campaigns (again split into the 4 channels)

In the second part of this series, I’ll walk you through some use cases, so you can quickly turn all this data into insights & start making changes to your campaigns to increase your profit & reduce that wanted spend.

Be sure to follow WebSavvy on LinkedIn and Instagram for news of Part 2 – coming soon!

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