With boundless ways to use AI and new technologies popping up daily, brands are at a crossroads. Every day, advertisers grapple to strike a balance between their deeply ingrained instincts to steer campaigns manually vs the promise of AI-driven optimization.
And for those spending their days in Google Ads, Google’s Performance Max (PMax), is a great example of this.
1. What is PMax?
For those unfamiliar, PMax is an automated campaign type that relies on machine learning to determine what Google platforms, placements, audiences and creatives should be used – and as with all automation, the goal of PMax is to allow users to offload some of their responsibilities over to an algorithm that can make intelligent, informed decisions for them. But is using this technology synonymous with tying your hands and simply hoping the machine makes all the right choices on your behalf?
Not really – while PMax does fall under the realm of automation, there are several levers advertisers can still pull to support the algorithm in its decision-making progress and ensure that as the technology is working hard for them, they’re still able to guide it.
2. PMax Creative: Crafting Compelling Messages
PMax’s automation can only work within the bounds of the creative you give it – so be sure to give it a lot of runway within best practices to allow it to test. Here are some guidelines to consider when assembling your visual and textual components:
- Keep It Simple: In an age of information overload, simplicity is your ally. Complex visuals and excessive animations can distract from your core message. Prioritize clarity and streamlined aesthetics.
- Optimize for Performance: Be sure not to accidentally slow loading times with large, complex creative files and code.
- Responsive Design:. Your creative should seamlessly adapt to varying screen sizes, ensuring a consistent experience across platforms.
- Clear CTA: A well-designed creative is incomplete without a compelling Call-to-Action (CTA). The CTA should be crystal clear and persuasive, guiding users toward the desired action.
- Animation with Purpose: Animations can captivate, but they should serve a purpose. Avoid gratuitous animations that detract from the user experience. Every movement should enhance engagement.
- Strategic Grouping: Use asset groups intelligently to combine your most relevant creative with the right sets of products
- Remember the Goal: Make sure that your creatives are oriented around your campaign goal. If you want to drive sales, for instance, focus creative design to elicit a direct response
- Maximize Formats: Provide as many different formats as possible. This will give the algorithm more flexibility and can help avoid assets from being generated automatically
3. PMax Product Feed: Crafting a Seductive Showcase
Your PMax product feed is the backbone of your digital storefront. To ensure its effectiveness, follow these practices:
- High-Quality Product Images: First impressions matter. Showcase your products with high-resolution images that illuminate their essence. Multiple angles, when relevant, offer a comprehensive view.
- Accurate Product Titles: Employ descriptive titles that encompass key details such as brand, color, size, and material to boost click-through rates.
- Complete Product Descriptions: Transparency sells. Provide comprehensive product descriptions that outline features, specifications, and unique selling points. Informed customers are more likely to convert.
- Price and Availability Accuracy: Accuracy is the core of trust, so be sure that the prices in your feed mirror your website. Regular updates to reflect changes in pricing and availability prevent customer frustration.
- Optimize for Mobile: The world has gone mobile, and your product feed must follow suit. Design for mobile compatibility, acknowledging the prevalence of mobile shopping.
4. PMax Measurement and Conversion Tracking
If you want to be data-driven, you need to have solid measurement practices in place. Tracking PMax conversions and assessing performance requires a methodical approach:
- Select Relevant Goals: It’s critical that you communicate to the platform how value is defined. Using conversion goals that reflect your real business goals will ensure that automation is working for you, not against you.
- Attribution Modeling: Dabble in attribution models to understand the customer journey better. First-touch, last-touch, and multi-touch attribution offer nuanced perspectives on conversion sources.
- Marketing Mix Modeling: Automation doesn’t mean detachment – the advertiser is still responsible for making budget shifts between strategies. A cookie-less view (like MMM) of channel performance is imperative when making larger strategy decisions, like budget shifts.
- A/B Testing: Experimentation fuels progress. Conduct A/B tests to scrutinize variables, refine strategies, and unlock incremental improvements.
- Incrementality: With PMax serving on such a wide range of inventory, it’s important to understand the impact it’s having on your marketing efforts as a whole. Make sure you look past the face value ROAS to understand the impact on metrics like brand searches or offline sales.
By adhering to creative, product feed, measurement, and conversion tracking best practices, brands can embrace automation while preserving their unique brand voices. And while we see many marketers vary in their opinion of AI, PMax is an excellent example of the possible symbiotic relationship between human ingenuity and AI innovation – a partnership that holds the key to unlocking unparalleled marketing potential.