10 February 2023

Understanding Performance Max campaigns’ conversion settings

Birds flying in V shape

In summary

  • Performance Max (PMax) search campaigns are still a relatively new campaign type with some third party tools yet to adapt to its existence.
  • Advertisers should be aware of the nuances in conversion settings and how they impact campaigns.
  • Follow Louder’s recommended actions for Search Ads 360 and PMax users.

What are performance max campaigns?

PMax campaigns are an algorithm-fueled multi-channel campaign type that Google introduced in 2021.

This goal-based campaign type uses a minimum of input (budgets, conversion source, creatives, locations, audience signals) to deliver ads across all of Google’s properties (Search, Youtube, Discovery, Gmail, Display Network, and Maps). This campaign type is designed to help marketers identify and convert additional business opportunities as a complement to their traditional campaigns.

Performance max campaign type
Screenshot of a performance max campaign in Google Ads from Google

PMax campaigns and view through conversions

PMax campaigns are still a fairly new campaign type, and bidding tools such as Search Ads 360 (SA360) have yet to fully adjust to this disruptive, multi-channel campaign format.

Traditionally paid search campaigns tracked post-click conversions only, however with ads delivered on display, video and other non-search inventory, pre click engagement data also needs tracking to optimise towards the outcome.

This calls for the need to measure view-through conversions.

Campaign settings and conversion source in the different platforms

Marketers using SA360 or Google Analytics 4 (GA4) might be tempted to use those platforms’ conversions to manage and optimise their PMax campaigns. After all, those products offer consolidated measurement across channels and, as such, provide a more realistic view of the overall digital performance.

However, SA360’s floodlights and GA4 conversions are not yet compatible with PMax, despite the ability to set them as conversion sources in the campaigns’ settings.

At the time of writing this article, the recommendation is to use the Google Ads tracking conversion system for PMax campaigns.

PMax conversion settings
Image of a PMax campaigns conversion setting in Search Ads 360.

Whilst it is technically possible to set the conversion source of your PMax campaign to floodlight or GA4 in both Google Ads and SA360, the system currently overwrites the setting to use Google Ads conversion tracking for any automated bidding strategies.

PMax users may think floodlight or GA4 is being used to optimise performance. Unfortunately, it is only available in a reporting capacity.

What does this mean for advertisers?

Advertisers may not be looking at the actual performance of their campaigns.

Louder’s recommendations

Louder recommends SA360 and PMax users to review their campaigns’ settings:

  • Analysis: Measure discrepancies between Google Ads and Floodlight conversions. Minimal discrepancies ensure an easy transition between the two measurement systems.
  • Action: Make sure that the conversion source used by your PMax campaigns is set to the Google Ads conversion tracking to reflect the accurate volume of conversions used by the algorithm.
  • Recommendation: For optimal results, Louder currently recommends using Google Ads bid strategies and conversion tracking.
  • Plan: Reach out to your Google Marketing Platform (GMP) Partner for more information or to be included in the Alpha.

Get support on PMax campaigns
For more info on PMax measurement and upcoming opportunities, or for a review of your campaigns, contact us at support@louder.com.au

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About Enlian Liu

Enlian is a junior digital advertising specialist. In her spare time, you will find her shooting portraits with her film camera, or working hard on her Animal Crossing island.