Google Performance Max: What B2B SaaS Companies Need to Know

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Google Ads remains the most popular PPC advertising platform among marketers. Despite tighter budgets and reduced ad performance, the platform is still a staple in any marketer’s arsenal. However, the search engine remains increasingly aware of marketers’ concerns over lost performance, and continues to update the Google Ads service. Google Performance Max is the latest addition to the Google Ads campaign roster. 


The new feature was initially introduced on a small scale at the end of 2021. However, a slow rollout has been continuing since then, with the aim to replace the Smart Shopping feature.


The campaign feature is picking up popularity among DTC marketers in particular, but what does this latest addition mean for those in the B2B space? Should you add Google Performance Max to your advertising approach, or is Google simply searching for new ways to keep marketers engaged?

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What is Google Performance Max Supposed to Do?

As mentioned, Google Performance Max is the latest addition to the Google Ads platform. It is a campaign model that allows you to generate a new advertising campaign that includes all of their available ad variations and platforms. 


The primary selling point of this feature is automation. The campaign type attempts to make Google advertising simpler, with a completely automated experience. Performance Max utilizes machine learning technology in order to generate campaigns according to budget, analyze results and make targeting and delivery decisions according to those results. 


You provide Google Ads with your chosen assets, budget, locations, and campaign-specific goal. Google optimizes your ads across their entire inventory, including Search, Display, YouTube, and Gmail. Effectively, this feature is Google’s own test and learn technology. Your ads are optimized in real-time by the technology, promising increased results. 


As mentioned, the rollout previously had been slow as Google tested the effectiveness of the campaign type. However, Performance Max has started to replace Smart Shopping campaigns.

Benefits of Performance Max

For a seasoned marketer, there will understandably be concerns about handing over campaign success to Google’s own algorithm. However, there are some potential benefits for the right audience, and providing the Machine Learning technology is up to scratch. 


Efficiency: This might be a benefit for smaller businesses, with an already stretched marketing department. But, letting Google handle ad optimization ultimately frees up more time. Currently, monitoring analytics and making changes to campaigns accordingly is a time-consuming task. This feature allows you to free up resources, and focus on the manual tasks that come with growing a business.


Budget: Similarly, one of the primary goals of the Performance Max feature is the optimization of budget. The campaign option aims to make adjustments according to what’s performing, ensuring that you’re only spending your advertising budget on campaigns that work. In the current marketing climate, preserving budget is critical.


Experiment: Google Performance Max encourages you to try out new audiences that you may not have considered previously. The feature adapts according to what works. This might mean reaching new audiences or making shifts to your targeting, providing valuable insights to your wider marketing effort.

Challenges of Performance Max

However, as with any new feature, success isn’t a given. There are restrictions and challenges that come with this new campaign option, and it isn’t always going to be the right fit for every marketer. Largely, it depends on your experience, and the level of control you need to have over your advertising campaigns. 


Behind the Scenes: A lot of AI technology is referred to as “Black Box AI”. Google’s Performance Max feature is no different. Essentially, data goes in, and a result comes out. The technology doesn’t necessarily provide a lot of information about what happened in between to reach that result. 


Unfortunately, Performance Max doesn’t provide a lot of visibility about why it’s making changes to campaigns, so you just have to trust Google’s suggestions. 


This also means you don’t get any valuable data about what’s working well for your campaigns. Are certain assets performing better? Or, are specific channels achieving wider reach? This feature doesn’t provide that information for future use. 


Cannibalization: As a result of this lack of visibility around your campaigns, and the fact that Performance Max doesn’t allow you to eliminate keywords, you could cannibalize your other campaigns. You cannot know what kind of campaigns or keywords Google is doing to generate with this feature, so this might result in your ads competing with each other. 

Devices: Unlike other campaign options, Performance Max doesn’t provide device data or visibility on browsing trends. For many ad campaigns, this could be vital information. Ads are often relied on as a testing mechanism for the wider marketing effort, and a lack of information removes the ability to optimize messaging across the board.

google performance max

Who Should Use Google Performance Max?

As noted above, whether Google Performance Max is right for you will depend entirely on your experience and what you’re looking to achieve with this campaign feature. 


For small companies, or those just starting out and looking to learn more about PPC ads, Performance Max could be a good place to start. The optimization feature means that the campaigns essentially handle themselves, freeing up resources. Performance Max is a good first dip into the world of PPC ads, and offers a very simple approach to paid advertising. 


The latest feature has started to replace the Smart Shopping feature, which was popular among eCommerce businesses. Typically, PPC ads perform best for eCommerce businesses once the customer is ready to make a purchase. Therefore, Performance Max offers optimization tech to reach this goal. 


However, B2B marketing and sales cycles are much longer, as purchases are of higher value. The buyer needs to consider each purchase for a much longer amount of time. This is why analytics and data are so critical to B2B marketers. You need to be able to track campaigns and contacts or leads, and nurture them accordingly. 

Performance Max might be useful for branding or at the decision stage, but the lack of data makes it difficult to have a meaningful impact on B2B marketing strategies. B2B marketing needs more than ads to perform, so Performance Max might be just one element within a wider marketing mix for success.

Find the Right Marketing Mix

B2B marketing success is about finding the right branding, positioning, and messaging, combined with a variety of marketing approaches. You cannot rely on paid ads alone. So, while you may choose Google’s Performance Max campaign, or another of their ad campaign options, it’s important to integrate this with other strategies


Inbound marketing, email campaigns, content marketing, social media marketing, etc. are all valuable lead generation and relationship-building tools in a B2B marketer’s arsenal. The best B2B marketing will learn from each campaign, and use that data to inform their future efforts. A test-and-learn approach spread across your entire marketing, not just your paid ads, is the key to success. Therefore, data is critically important.


At Nituno, we work with B2B SaaS companies to find the right holistic marketing strategies. Whether you’re looking to identify the right positioning, or you need to push your lead generation and customer acquisition, we can help. Our expert team consists of content writers, video editors, SEO specialists, and more. Get in touch with us today to discuss building a marketing mix for your B2B SaaS company.

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