Asset Group Performance & Search Term Reports in Performance Max

How much of a black box are Performance Max campaigns and can we optimise them at all? In this short article, I’ll share some useful reports and how to find out what’s happening inside Google Ads’ new flagship campaign type. Read on to find where to view asset group performance and search term reports in Performance Max campaigns.

Performance Max - An Evolving Campaign Type

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that Performance max campaigns are evolving and new reports and features are supposed to be rolled out. At the time of writing, reporting is limited but it still exists.

Asset Group Performance Reporting

Asset groups are a bit like responsive search ads and responsive display ads mashed together. An asset group gets attached to an audience signal, which is how you target your ads. You can use them to send different messages to different audiences. So they’re very similar in function to ad groups. But what use are they if you can’t see their individual performance? The good news is that you can view asset group performance if you’ve added a product feed to your campaign.

To view asset group performance, go to the Listing group tab. Here, besides seeing your different product groupings you can also see asset group performance.

Asset group performance in performance max report, Google Ads

I ran two asset groups. One for remarketing audiences and one for new customers. As expected, remarketing had higher returns but the ads targeting new users are doing well too. (I've masked all client information).

If your Performance Max campaign doesn’t have a product feed then you won’t have a Listing group tab and you won’t be able to access this report.

Determining the Split Between Product Ads & Static Ads in pMAX

Performance Max campaigns can do their own thing and spend your budget on search ads and other static ads. If you've got a feed attached to your pMAX campaign, you're probably expecting most of the budget to go towards shopping ads. But this isn't always the case and you can uncover where the spend is going with this technique.

The 'Campaign overview' tab shows total cost and conversions for the campaign. You can change conversions to conversion value. If you compare this with the 'Listing group' tab, you can also derive how much of your spend and conversions are coming from feed based advertising in your Performance Max campaigns. Feed based ads would include shopping ads and dynamic display and discovery ads. Admittedly, it’s a roundabout way of gathering data but we have to pick whatever crumbs of data Google Ads has kindly left us.

Budget not spent on products must have been spent on the general ads created with the images and text you’ve added to the asset group. This can also help us understand if our brand terms are spending on search or shopping ads.

Performance max budget split between shopping and search

We're comparing two separate reports here: Listing group and Campaign overview. In this account, the vast majority of the budget went to product feed ads and only £15 went to non-product ads.

Search Term Reporting in Performance Max Campaigns

Inside the 'Insights' tab you can view search terms your campaign has shown for. The search queries are bundled into themes and you can expand each theme to view more search terms. I’ve found this report useful. I helps me see if brand terms are a big factor in the campaigns budget and revenue. Since Performance Max campaigns also show on search, I don’t want them to compete with brand campaigns, which usually have a very high return.

One slight annoyance with the insights tab is that you can only view last 7 days or last 28 days. You can view historical data. It's better than nothing but still very limited compared to normal campaigns.

Search term reporting in performance max, Google ads.

For this campaign, most of the conversions are coming from brand terms (I've masked the actual terms). This is a scenario where pMAX is just taking easy conversions from people already searching for the brand.

I’ve found the amount of brand terms being targeted by Performance Max campaigns to vary from each account. Most ad accounts I've managed have had a low percentage of brand terms but for one client, the brand terms are the biggest cause of conversions (not good!). Performance Max campaigns without a product feed have rarely delivered any good in my accounts and have mostly acted like an overpriced brand campaign.

Search terms performance max campaigns

This lead generation account has not had any brand terms and all search terms (masked) were very good. Update, after running for several months, this account is showing more brand terms than it did in the beginning and I've had to reduce its budget.

On some accounts, I've managed to ask my Google Ads rep to add a negative keywords list to all our performance max campaigns. This helped us remove brand searches from pMAX. It seems like a very convoluted way to perform such a basic action but worth trying.

Placement reporting in Performance Max campaigns

There are rumours about this report being available but I can’t see it in any of my accounts. I suspect it’s been rolled out in the US first and can only hope to get access to it soon. If you have access to placement reporting please let me know.
Update, since writing this article, placement reports have not rolled out and I suspect they won't be coming out either.

Overall Impressions of Performance Max Campaigns

I’ve been using Performance Max campaigns for over 12 months now. I've found them to do well in some accounts and less so in others. For example, a positive surprise was a lead generation account with no products. The CPAs were lower than what we had before but I was worried about lead quality. Luckily, I had access to the leads through Hubspot and can confirm the leads generated were actually really good. The landing pages and website for that account have good copy and I suspect this helps the automated targeting understand what we're trying to advertise.
Update: The above lead generation account has seen pMAX target more brand terms over time and while it's still running, I cannot rely on it as much as I did before.

With shopping and feed based account, I’ve found Performance Max to be mostly a hit and miss. The performance max campaigns that have performed the best for us are those that have been converted from smart shopping. pMAX campaigns that have been create from the ground up with assets and audiences have been spending around 50% of the budget on non-feed based ads.

Mostly, our Performance Max campaigns that have been connected to a feed have performed well with a healthy return on ad spend.

About Me

I'm a Google Ads consultant and digital marketer. Together with the team at Effectivemarketing.uk, a London based PPC agency we help companies increase revenue and improve ad performance. We work with eCommerce PPC accounts as well as lead generation. I hope you've found this article useful. If you have any comment or if you need any help with Google Ads, fill the form and get in touch.

Odi Caspi
PPC Marketer

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