Balancing Automation and People Power in Performance Max Campaigns


Nothing epitomises the shift to AI and automation within digital marketing more than PMAX campaigns. Ad managers across the world are noticing a significant shift in Google’s promotion and use of PMAX campaigns, which use AI and machine learning to maximise the performance of your campaign goals. This shift towards AI can be embraced and taken advantage of for great results, but the machine or the man used separately will never be as good as those used in harmony.

In the past, ad managers were encouraged to have control over their campaigns on a granular level, be aware of every change and optimise their campaigns slowly and manually. However now, the progress towards more hands-off campaign management is coming to the fore. This presents a unique dilemma and gulf in opinion. There will be some who are scared of handing over any control of their budgets and campaigns to AI automation and some who feel content to sit back and let Google automate their campaigns with little to no input. Here at Brave, we see a middle-ground approach to paid advertising. While Google’s AI PMAX campaigns are effective at driving results, especially for eCommerce, there are certain processes in PPC that Google can’t automate for you and are still vital for ad managers to be at the heart of.

In this blog, we will run through the four critical levers that marketers should be maintaining control over, which will be neglected if you let Google automate them and give tips on how to optimise them effectively.



The assets you elect to sell a product are essential for driving clicks and sales. Only you know what assets are best for you and your client and their product. While PMAX can be proficient at optimising your ad copy, there is still work for you to do.

Keep It Simple

Avoid excessive animation or complicated assets. Select high-quality assets, but keep clear the action you want users to take.

Consider Loading Time

Don’t use files that are too large and don’t waste ad spend on poor loading times that push users away.

Create Explicit CTAs

PMAXs are designed to drive one action. Build your CTAs to reflect that. Check your call-to-actions on your PMAX campaigns and ensure the overall language of the body copy is aligned with your CTAs; they need to be precise and to the point.


Shopping Feeds

Maintaining a hands-on approach to managing these feeds leads to more tailored product data and more successful advertising outcomes. Meticulous, data-driven management of shopping feeds is a cornerstone for success in PMAX campaigns.


First impressions matter the most in advertising. Make sure you use relevant, high quality and correctly sized imagery for your products and ads.

Strategic Grouping

The use of custom labelling in your products can help Google understand how your products are categorised and help you build out individual asset groups without overlap. You can have a large part in teaching the Google algorithm what products are related, especially when combined with your audience signals and conversion data

There is also work you should be doing in product group testing. What are people looking for when they search for your products? Do they search by colour? Size? Style? Use keyword research and data-driven result measurement to find out your most popular product attributes and group your products accordingly in your PMAX asset groups.

Optimise for Mobile

Make sure your product feed looks good for mobile users as well as those using desktops. Keep in mind that mobile conversions make up the majority of sales for a wide range of brands and this share is ever-increasing. While high-order value purchases often take place on laptops, a user’s first contact with a high-value product is through mobile and the purchase occurs on their desktop.

To find out more about how you can optimise product feeds for PMAC campaigns, read here.



Select Relevant Metrics

It is important to ensure the conversion action you are measuring is relevant to business objectives and that Google is driving towards the KPIs that matter. Business objectives often change and keeping on top of what you are tracking and why is vital.

A/B Testing

One of the most important optimisation protocols is experimenting with new landing pages, different product groups, assets, audience signals, and search themes.


Holistic Approach

Keep in mind the different options and the nuanced marketing needed for some campaigns that AI can’t comprehend.

Consider Alternatives

Don’t feel pressured to use AI. PMAX may not work for your business and objectives. Consider your media mix and make sure that you are not forgoing more effective marketing in search and display ads by focusing on the shiny new PMAX campaigns.

Brand Positioning/ Safety

Google might not have the nuance required for your brand’s position and take assets from your website that you don’t want to be part of your brand’s image, or might not be relevant to the message you are trying to portray. You should have control of how your brand is perceived.


Google can’t assess how new your product is to market, or even that you are in an emerging market and create the right ads for that. This is where you need to step in and have control over the creation and implementation of the ads to reflect this stage of you launching your product marketing.


The key takeaway here is that you, as a digital marketer, can choose how much you rely on AI automation. We always recommend a mix of man and machine. However, relying on the machine for your every campaign need will leave areas neglected by the AI and rejected audiences. Constant testing and review of ad quality, conversion data and product feeds are critical.

Remember, just because AI is new on the block in terms of Google Ads, this doesn’t mean you have to use it or you will be left behind. Review your business goals and research whether your business model works well with what PMAX is designed for. There are always areas that need your attention as a digital marketer. Not sure where to start? Get in touch today with our team of expert paid advertising professionals for your next growth opportunity.

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