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How to control Performance Max campaigns



How to control Performance Max campaigns

Performance Max campaigns from Google are causing quite the stir in the advertising world. It’s one of the fastest major launches we’ve seen, with the product going from general availability (Nov 2021) to forced migration (Sep 2022) in less than a year. Here we’ll share some of the tips we’ve gathered from talking to a lot of our customers and several PPC experts, including some Googlers in our PPC Town Hall episodes.

Control is shifting to the periphery of the ads system

Performance Max campaigns are one of the most automated campaign types available in Google Ads, and the lack of controls is one of the main causes for concern among advertisers.

But as our founder Fred Vallaeys described in his recent book, “Unlevel the Playing Field, the Biggest Mindshift in PPC History,” advertiser controls still exist in the era of automated PPC; they’ve just shifted to be more about the big picture and less about granular details. Think things like:

  1. Set correct targets that are related to business goals.
  2. Feed more timely and more detailed conversion information into the Google AI.
  3. Optimize the structured data and feeds that Google uses to generate creatives and match ads to queries.

Automation needs space to learn

Historically, a best practice in PPC was to exert total control over a campaign by using exact match keywords with tightly themed ad groups. In Performance Max, it’s rather difficult to emulate this strategy because there are neither keywords nor static ads. Instead, machine learning determines on the fly what queries could be relevant and then generates a dynamic ad for each.

So the knee-jerk reaction to Performance Max’s lack of control may be to seek ways to reign in the automation and make it behave more like what we’re used to from 20+ years of having close control.

But some advertisers, like Kasim Aslam, pointed out in a recent PPC town hall that giving the machine more room to experiment may not be such a bad thing. It’s like putting a flea in a small box. Fleas can jump eight inches, 150 times their body height. But if you put one in a box that’s one inch tall, it’ll learn never to jump higher than that, wasting its potential. Could it be the same with PPC automation?

Regardless of how tightly you control it, the machine will identify a slice of traffic where it’s comfortably producing the results you’ve asked for. When you eventually want more results and change some of the boundaries, it may prioritize continuing to operate in the space it already knows well because that’s where it has a higher degree of confidence in its predictions.

So there’s something to be said for allowing the machine some freedom to test and let it find users who will convert in some unexpected places to achieve the greatest possible incrementality.

Here’s a concrete example of machine learning doing a good job for advertisers when it’s not being constrained. When Optmyzr recently evaluated 170 million ads to see the impact of responsive search ads (RSAs) that have now replaced expanded text ads, it was clear that giving the machine more breathing room led to more conversions.

The main reason is that ad groups with RSAs got around twice as many impressions as ad groups without RSAs because the machine was able to make ads relevant for a significant new number of searches. And while the conversion rate was around 11% worse, the large increase in impressions more than made up for that.

Source (Optmyzr internal data from May 2022. 13,671 accounts and 1.7m ads)

Set expectations for how long it will take automation to learn

Besides the lack of ad control which it shares with RSAs, Performance Max exhibits a lot of other freedoms that can make it a nerve-racking proposition for advertisers to try:

  • Works with ad assets rather than ads that are fully written out by advertisers.
  • Operates with few keyword boundaries, much like Broad Match keywords would operate in a search campaign.
  • Bids are automated and determined by advertiser goals rather than a restrictive max CPC.

Learning what works takes time for the machine, and it’s frustrating that human insight is relatively hard to add to the equation to help speed up the learning. To get the most out of Performance Max, it needs two weeks of relatively unencumbered time to experiment and learn.

Agencies and PPC managers need to ensure their clients are ready for this wait. Setting this expectation requires a bit of client re-education because the industry has long touted a key benefit of PPC to be the immediacy of results and the corresponding ability to do instant optimization. While you can still see clicks being reported in near-real time, making course corrections until the machine has had some time to experiment and learn may be the wrong move.

Make sure your clients know your plan for how long you will let the machines learn before you start optimizing.

Advertisers must expect to give the machine time and not interfere with constant tweaking of a campaign that is still learning. Optmyzr has some great tools to help advertisers make sense of experiments in Google.

Creative assets make or break your campaign

Optimizing targeting and bidding have historically been the most important elements of running a great PPC campaign. Sure, ads were important too. But if you had the best ad and showed it to the wrong audience or paid too much for it, you’d get poor results. On the other hand, though, a mediocre ad shown to the right audience at the right price could still do quite well.

But now, with Performance Max, advertisers choose neither keywords nor bids. So the creative all of a sudden has become a much more important optimization lever. And for many advertisers used to only writing text ads, the mere fact that they’re now asked for video ads too can be daunting.

The advice we’ve heard in conversation with our customers is that it’s more important to have fresh video ads rather than perfect ones. It’s much more like social media advertising, where ads regularly go stale and stop driving results.

So the advice we have here is not to overthink video ads. Shoot some quick ads on your phone, or repurpose any assets you might already have. Neither may look beautiful, but the machine has a way of getting audiences to start clicking on these ads. And once the prospect is on your site, all the hard work you’ve done over the years on your landing pages takes over, and those new prospects can become customers.

When it comes to optimizing text assets for ad formats like RSAs, Optmyzr can streamline that quite a bit by providing insights into which frequently used assets are performing well, as well as suggesting variations for new copy when your current ones aren’t delivering.

You have flexibility with structure

Another control you still have is related to campaign structure.

E-commerce advertisers can continue to use shopping campaigns for full control or migrate their Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max (this is also happening automatically). The same concepts for structure that have worked well in the past can continue to work.

For example, maintain different campaigns based on profit margins so you can set different target ROAS values to maximize overall company profits. Use custom labels in the feed to split products into different campaigns, asset groups or listing groups.

With more advanced structures like this, an important optimization step is ensuring the Google Ads account has the right products in the right places.

For advertisers with constantly changing inventories or large product catalogs, tools like Optmyzr’s Shopping Campaign Builder and Shopping Campaign Refresher can automate much of the tedious account structure maintenance that ultimately contributes to the success of Performance Max.

A few final controls

Here are a few more ways that advertisers can still exert control over Performance Max campaigns:

Marketing objectives and goals

Make sure you’re feeding Google the best possible version of what your conversion really is. Set Conversion Value Rules to better represent your conversion values, or use offline conversion imports for even more precise data.

Campaign budgets

You can still allocate budgets to campaigns. Whether that means shifting budget from one Performance Max campaign to another, shifting budgets between Performance Max and a search or shopping campaign — or even shifting budgets between different platforms — there are many ways to ensure you get the most for your money with budget optimizations, many of which are easy to do in Optmyzr.


With automated bidding, you should be able to get conversions at the right price, even in locations that traditionally underperform. And while geo bid adjustments don’t work with Smart Bidding, you can still create different campaigns for different regions so that each can have better ROAS or CPA targets and creative assets that resonate more in each region.


Feed optimization is a great example of managing PPC at a “big picture” level. Even in “old-school” shopping campaigns, there are no keywords. But the words you use to describe the products in a merchant feed will still impact what queries Google shows your ads for. So feed management is an important optimization technique, and Optmyzr has a beta for its clients who want help optimizing their feed-based data.


The original form of targeting in PPC was through keywords, but audiences have continued to take on more importance for targeting. Specifying existing audiences helps Google target new audiences (those not on the list of existing audiences). Or adding audiences you find important to campaigns like Performance Max can help it deliver better results.

Account negatives

Performance Max campaigns respect negative keywords so long as you’re able to input them into the system. So ask an account rep’s help to upload negative keywords at the campaign level. And use tools like Optmyzr to set account-level negative placements that can help save thousands of dollars in wasted spend on apps and sites that bait users into clicking on ads and have a low probability of driving good conversions.


The introduction of Performance Max has changed how PPC advertisers manage the campaigns that drive conversions for their companies and clients. And while a lot of the management has shifted to the periphery of the system, there are still many things (like we shared here) that advertisers can do to continue to prove their value in the digital marketing space. If you’d like to test out some of Optmyzr’s capabilities and opt in to some of our more exciting betas, start a free trial or get in touch with our support team by writing to [email protected]

About The Author

Optmyzr’s PPC management platform provides intelligent optimization suggestions that help advertisers across the world manage their online advertising more effectively. Optmyzr connects with Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, Amazon Ads, Facebook Ads, Google Analytics, Google Merchant Center, Google Sheets, and SA360. The company was founded by former Google AdWords executives. The Optmyzr PPC suite includes over 30 tools to improve Quality Score, manage manual and automated bids, find new keywords, A/B test ads, build new campaigns, manage placements, automate budgets, and automate reports. Optmyzr was named best PPC management software at the 2020 US, UK, and Global Search Awards.

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Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions



Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions

Through deals and coupons, Instacart has saved consumers more than $700 million in 2022. As we dive into 2023, the leading grocery technology company in North America has big plans to help consumers save even more while also helping CPGs generate sales. Instacart recently announced an advertising solution that helps both sellers and consumers called Instacart Promotions. This exciting feature is designed to help drive conversions, boost sales, and generate overall engagement on the app.

Interested in this feature and how it can help your business on Instacart? Read on as we dive into everything you need to know about this ad solution including benefits, how to get started, and more.


What are Instacart Promotions?


Instacart Promotions is an advertising feature that’s now available to all brand partners, including emerging brands, within their open beta program. Promotions give CPGs the opportunity to offer new deal structures, promotions, and incentives with Instacart Ad campaigns. With this feature in place, consumers will have access to more promotions, coupons, and deals that are tailored to them within the Instacart Marketplace.

“With the launch of our new Instacart Promotions, all of our brand partners now have the ability to set up coupons and promotions that can drive meaningful business results while also passing on more savings opportunities to consumers. We’re proud to continue expanding our portfolio with additional self-service capabilities, ad formats that drive results, and measurement that brands need to understand the true impact of their campaigns on Instacart.”


– Ali Miller, VP of Ads Product at Instacart


Source: Instacart


How Do Instacart Promotions Work?


Promotions, now available in Ads Manager, gives consumers the ability to discover more promotions and savings opportunities within the Instacart app. These promotions now show up directly on product item cards before checkout for easy accessibility. Promotions allow advertisers to customize their campaigns to sync with their goals and objectives whether that be driving sales, building baskets, or boosting trials.

Instacart shared a recent example of a brand successfully utilizing Promotions… 

Athletic Brewing, General Mills, Sola Company, and Wells Enterprises (maker of Halo Top) are strengthening campaign performance by pairing Instacart Promotions with ad formats such as Sponsored Product and Display. Instacart Promotions include two new flexible and customizable structures: Coupons (“buy X units, save $Y”) and Stock Up & Save (“Spend $X, Save $Y”). 

According to Instacart, in the coming months, the company “will work to further enhance the new offering with new deal structures such as Free Gifts and Buy One, Get One (“BOGO”). The new deal structures will help brand partners run “Free Sample” programs that can win new customers and serve personalized discounts for different customer segments, such as “new to brand” and “new to category.”  


Example of Instacart Promotions

Source: Instacart


Instacart Promotions Benefits


Deliver Value and Savings to Consumers


With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to deliver value and savings that will have consumers coming back for more. With this savings feature, your brand can stand out among the competition and offer a variety of deals to shoppers ie: “Buy X units, Save $Y”.


Hot tip: Ensure you are selecting products for your promotion that are well-stocked and widely available.  


Tailor Your Campaigns to Specific Objectives


With a variety of savings options available, your brand can structure deals to fit specific business goals and objectives. 


Hot tip: If you’re looking to drive visibility and awareness, try pairing promotions with Sponsored Product campaigns. 


Access Real-Time Performance Insights 


The Promotions beta program is live and can be accessed within Instacart Ads Manager. Within Ads Manager, advertisers can access real-time insights to maximize performance and adjust campaigns as needed.


Hot tip: Make sure your budget matches your discount and objectives.


“As an advertiser, Instacart’s unique offering to self-manage promotions is so exciting! Historically, making adjustments to offer values and other promotion parameters was a more manual process, but now we’ll be able to easily make optimizations in real-time based on redemption performance.”

Emily Choate

Emily Choate, Senior Specialist, Marketplace Search at Tinuiti


Interested in Instacart Promotions?


With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to reach new customers, build bigger baskets, and drive sales. Interested in testing out the beta program or looking to get started with advertising on the app? Drop us a line – we’d love to help elevate your CPG brand on Instacart.


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(Re)Introducing your favorite Optimizely products!



(Re)Introducing your favorite Optimizely products!

It’s important to us that you, our valued customers and partners, can identify with the tools you use daily.  

In that pursuit, Optimizely set out to simplify the way we talk about our product suite. That starts, first and foremost, with the words we use to refer to the technology.  

So, we’ve taken a hard look at everything in our portfolio, and are thrilled to introduce new names we believe are more practical, more consistent, and better representative of the technology we all know and love.  

You may have seen some of these names initially at Opticon 2022 as well as on our website. In the spirit of transparency, the team here at Optimizely wanted to make sure you had full visibility into the complete list of new names, as well as understand the context (and rationale) behind the changes. 

So, without further ado… 

Which names changed?  

Some, but not all. For your ongoing reference, below is a complete list of Optimizely products, with previous terminology you may be familiar with in the first column, and (if applicable) the new name in the second column.  

Used to be… 

Is now (or is still)… 



Optimizely Digital Experience Platform 

A fully-composable solution designed to support the orchestration, monetization, and experimentation of any type of digital experience — all from a single, open and extensible platform. 

Content Cloud 

Optimizely Content Management System 

A best-in-class system for building dynamic websites and helping digital teams deliver rich, secure and personalized experiences. 


Optimizely Content Marketing Platform 

An industry-leading and user-friendly platform helping marketing teams plan campaigns, collaborate on tasks, and author content. 


Optimizely Digital Asset Management 

A modern storage tool helping teams of any size manage, track, and repurpose marketing and brand assets (with support for all file types). 

Content Recs 

Optimizely Content Recommendations 

AI-powered and real-time recommendations to serve the unique interests of each visitor and personalize every experience. 

B2B Commerce 

Optimizely Configured Commerce 

A templatized and easy-to-deploy platform designed to help manufacturers and distributors drive efficiency, increase revenue and create easy buying experiences that retain customers. 

Commerce Cloud 

Optimizely Customized Commerce 

A complete platform for digital commerce and content management to build dynamic experiences that accelerate revenue and keep customers coming back for more. 


Optimizely Product Information Management 

A dedicated tool to help you set up your product inventory and manage catalogs of any size or scale. 

Product Recs 

Optimizely Product Recommendations 

Machine-learning algorithms optimized for commerce to deliver personalized product recommendations in real-time. 


Optimizely Web Experimentation 

An industry-leading experimentation tool allowing you to run A/B and multi-variant tests on any channel or device with an internet connection. 

Full Stack 

Optimizely Feature Experimentation 

A comprehensive experimentation platform allowing you to manage features, deploy safer tests, and roll out new releases – all in one place. 


Optimizely Personalization 

An add-on to core experimentation products, allowing teams to create/segment audiences based on past behavior and deliver more relevant experiences. 

Program Management 

Optimizely Program Management 

An add-on to core experimentation products, allowing teams to manage the end-to-end lifecycle of an experiment. 


Optimizely Data Platform 

A centralized hub to harmonize data across your digital experience tools, providing one-click integrations, AI-assisted guidance for campaigns, and unified customer profiles. 


So, why the change?  

 It boils down to three guiding principles:  

  1. Uniformity: Create a naming convention that can be applied across the board, for all products, to drive consistency 
  2. Simplicity: Use terms that are both practical and concise, ensuring the names are something that everyone can understand and identify with  
  3. Completeness: Develop a framework that showcases the full and complimentary nature of all the products and solutions within the Optimizely suite 

 As the Optimizely portfolio comes together as a complete, unified platform, it’s important that our names reflect this, as well as support our 3 key solutions (i.e. orchestrate amazing content experiences, monetize every digital experience, and experiment across all touchpoints).  

Other questions? We’ve got you covered. 

Q: Why have you made these product name changes? 

    • We wanted to simplify how we talk about our portfolio. The renaming applies a naming convention that is both practical and concise.  


Q: Do the new product name changes affect the products I own? 

    • No, there is no impact to product functionality or capabilities.  


Q: Do the new product name changes affect who is my Customer Success Manager or Account Manager?  

    • No, there are no changes to your Customer Success Manager or Account Manager. 


Q: Do the new product name changes affect the ownership of the company?  

    • No, ownership of the company has not changed. We have only made changes to the Product Names. 


Q: Have any contact details changed that I need to be aware of?  

    • Only contact details for former Welcome customers has changed. These are the new contact details you should be aware of: Optimizely, Inc.| 119 5th Ave | 7th Floor | New York, NY 10003 USA. Phone: +1 603 594 0249 | 


Q: Where can I send any follow up questions I might have?  

    • If you have any questions about the Product Names, please contact your Customer Success Manager or Account Manager.  

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Email Marketing Trends 2023: Predictions by the Industry Stalwarts



Email Marketing Trends 2023: Predictions by the Industry Stalwarts

Every year, we see new trends entering the world of email marketing.

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