Google’s Performance Max Campaigns: Your Guide to Search Themes

2024 marketing trends

A Quick Intro to Performance Max Campaigns

So, Google’s been at it again, tweaking its digital advertising tools. This time, it’s all about Performance Max campaigns. These are Google’s latest attempts to make life easier for advertisers across a range of platforms like search, display, video, Discover, Gmail, and Maps. The big news here is the introduction of ‘search themes’, still in beta, but they’re all about getting your ads in front of the right eyes.


What Are Search Themes Anyway?

In a nutshell, Performance Max campaigns are pretty hands-off, offering less control than your traditional search campaigns. But here’s where search themes come into play. They let you give Google more context and clues about who should see your ads, based on how people search. It’s a nifty way to make sure your ads pop up in more relevant spots, not just on the usual search pages.


Moving On from Custom Segments to Search Themes

Google is rolling out these search themes and phasing out the old custom segments based on past search activities. By early 2024, we’re looking at a switch where ‘Custom Intent’ audiences will automatically get bumped up to Search Themes. The idea is to make things smoother and more efficient, hopefully giving your campaigns a bit of a performance boost.


Juggling Performance Max with Your Regular Search Campaigns

If you’re running both Performance Max and standard search campaigns, you might find a bit of a tussle for the same search territory. Search themes are here to sort that out by focusing on exact-match keywords. This should help deliver a more consistent ad experience, no matter how people are searching.


Top Tips for Using Search Themes Effectively

Spruce Up Your Landing Pages

Got a landing page that’s a bit bare-bones? Use search themes to fill in the gaps, giving Google more to work with for better ad placement.


Keep Your Messaging Clear

Make sure your search themes reflect very clearly what your brand’s all about. Even if your ads or website don’t spell everything out, your search themes should.


Variety Is the Spice of Life

You can use up to 25 search themes for each asset group but don’t just throw in everything but the kitchen sink. Focus on quality and making each theme count.


Don’t Forget About the Competition

Including terms related to your competitors in your search themes can be a smart move, especially if you’re the new kid on the block. It helps Google figure out who’s looking for what you offer.


Mix It Up with Traditional Campaigns

Blend your search themes in Performance Max campaigns with your regular search campaigns. It’s a great way to uncover new ad spots and ramp up your traffic.


Wrapping It Up

Search themes in Performance Max campaigns are a pretty big step forward in the digital ad world. By getting these best practices down, you’re setting yourself up for more accurate targeting, smoother campaign management, and hopefully, better results. It’s all about making sure your ads hit the mark in a digital landscape that doesn’t wait for anybody.


Move with Caution

When using search themes it’s important to be aware of the risk of campaign cannibalisation. This is a result of the prioritisation that Google has given to search themes compared to search campaigns. 

Essentially search themes in pmax campaigns will have the same level of prioritisation as broad and phrase match keywords in search campaigns and exact match keywords will take priority over all match types. 

The ultimate tiebreaker will be ad rank so it’s important to be mindful of this and ensure campaigns have high-quality keywords with high ad rank. 

If all keywords in your search campaigns are broad or phrase match there is a likely risk that they will be cannibalised by the Pmax campaign unless you use exact match keywords in your search campaigns to avoid this. 

At the moment there is no feature to track the success of search themes so the only way to measure is to compare campaigns with and without search themes and set up an a/b test.

Herjyot Manku

Herjyot Manku

Hey there I'm Herjyot and I'm a PPC Account Executive here at Repeat Digital I have a strong data and analytical background developed from a degree in Marketing and experience working with SQL. Before joining Repeat I worked at a Leicester based marketing agency working across PPC, SEO, Social Media and delivering insights and research for the team. I also was involved in creating proposal decks for prospecting clients with a flair for storytelling through creative insights. Focusing as a PPC Executive I worked with a range of clients helping them deliver their goals and achieve their targets through Google Ads. Before that I worked at another Leicester based data company using SQL to utilise customer data pulling out key marketing trends and providing insights to better understand customer needs. I love to swim and go 3-4 times a week, enjoy Lego and love doing something creative like drawing or making something whenever inspiration strikes ill be sketching for days.

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