Google Ads Innovation Storm Watch: Campaigns Upgradeable to Performance Max

August 18, 2023

As my team and I continue to monitor the Google Ads innovation storm, a significant development on our radar is the new option to upgrade Display and Search Ads (DSA) and Smart Display campaigns to Performance Max campaigns. 

I recommend that you go ahead and take this option. (Note, however, that this is a “true” option, unlike the one standard Universal Analytics users recently had to make about moving to Google Analytics 4!)    

Why? You can reasonably expect to achieve performance improvements of anywhere between 10-20% after making such upgrades. Other advertisers have already reported such results,  which are exactly what Performance Max campaigns were designed to help achieve. The campaigns utilize Google’s powerful machine learning algorithms to optimize ad placements, automatically reach the right audience, and deliver personalized experiences throughout the customer journey.

Unlike traditional campaigns that focus on specific ad formats or placements, Performance Max campaigns take a holistic approach, incorporating Google Search, Display, YouTube, and Discover ads. By doing so, businesses can break down the barriers between different ad types, making it easier to connect with potential customers across a wide range of channels.

If you’re currently leveraging DSAs and Smart Campaigns, making these upgrades can be a great way to take advantage of cutting-edge digital advertising technology without expending a ton of resources. 

Here’s how to do so:

6 easy steps for upgrading DSA and Smart Display campaigns to Performance Max

1. Check eligibility.  In the Google Ads interface, go to the “Recommendations” tab to see whether your DSA/Smart Display campaigns are eligible for upgrades. They most likely will be. If they are not, check back in a few days. Most aspects of Performance Max campaigns – including eligibility for these upgrades – rely on Google’s “black box,” but one thing I’m certain of is that Google wants you to be using them.  

2. Evaluate potential benefits of upgrading. These benefits may include expanded reach, better audience targeting, and enhanced ad performance through machine learning optimizations. Evaluate if these benefits align with your advertising goals and overall marketing strategy. If you are focused on efficiency, for example, expanding your reach may not make sense.

3. Back up any campaign that you will be upgrading. This precautionary step ensures that you have a copy of the original campaign in case you encounter any issues during the upgrade process.

4. Make the upgrades. To begin the upgrade process, navigate to the “Upgrade Center” in your Google Ads account. Here, you’ll find detailed information about upgrading your campaigns and the options to proceed. 

5. Choose the upgrade recommendations to follow. During the upgrade process, Google will provide you with tailored recommendations to make each old DSA/Smart Display campaign function optimally as a new Performance Max campaign. These recommendations are based on your existing campaign settings and objectives. Carefully review the suggestions, in particular any related to major budget increases. Also, expect any proposed keyword additions or match type changes to have a significant impact on Performance Max algorithms. Proceed with the recommendations that align with your marketing goals. 

6. Set a budget and bidding strategy for each upgraded campaign. When you’re making the upgrades, you’ll be prompted to set a budget and bidding strategy for each of your new Performance Max campaigns. Take into account your advertising budget, cost-per-click targets, and campaign objectives when configuring these settings.

That’s it! Your Performance Max campaigns will now be up and running. 

Moving forward, remember to closely monitor whether your new Performance Max campaigns are living up to expectations. Google’s machine learning algorithms will be automatically optimizing your ad placements, but it’s crucial to keep an eye on how your ads are actually performing and make any necessary adjustments – for example, pay attention to campaign spending trends, what keywords are getting majority of clicks and spend, audience signals, and asset performance grades – to maximize results. 

All of Google’s Performance Max campaign optimization tips and best practices are available here – be sure to pay attention to them when making your upgrades. 

If you have any questions about upgrading to or taking advantage of Performance Max campaigns, you are more than welcome to reach out to me directly!