Google Introduces Search Themes for Performance Max Campaigns

Performance Max has quickly become one of the most dominant campaign types in Google Ads, combining AI-powered targeting capabilities with extensive placement options that can reach users across the Google ecosystem. 

Google just announced a beta for Performance Max campaigns that might make them even more potent. Now, in addition to basing its audience predictions off of your assets, feeds, and landing pages, Google’s algorithms will allow advertisers to input keyword queries they believe are relevant to their businesses.  

This change can be seen as “bridging the gap” between Performance Max and search. The primary drawback of Performance Max is that its reliance on AI, while effective, can reduce the level of granular control and insight over who the ads reach. This change may combat both problems by allowing advertisers to fill in the gaps by providing Google’s AI with more information about their desired audience.

Why Use Google Search Themes for Performance Max?

This new beta feature has a number of possible use cases. Here are 5 scenarios that Google proposes where advertisers could benefit from implementing search themes:

  • New Market Expansion: When entering a new market or introducing a new product or service without an extensive performance history, Search Themes can help target relevant audiences effectively.
  • Incomplete Landing Pages: If your landing page lacks comprehensive details or up-to-date information about your products or services, Search Themes can compensate for this deficiency by guiding your ads to the right audience.
  • Expanding Reach: To broaden your reach within Performance Max campaigns, including the Search inventory, and ensure comprehensive coverage of essential business themes, Search Themes are an invaluable tool.
  • Optimizing Campaign Performance: Search Themes can provide crucial information that accelerates your campaign’s ramp-up and optimizes performance more rapidly.
  • Holiday Promotions: If you’re running a promotion or sale during the holiday season and lack historical performance data, Search Themes can assist in reaching potential customers actively searching for your deals.
Case Study
Case Study

How Custom Performance Max Insights Fuel Revenue Growth

Performance Max campaigns are effective, but they can also be a black box. Through custom insights, ADM grew johnnie-O’s revenue by 41%.

How Do Performance Max Search Themes Work?

To effectively incorporate search themes into your Performance Max campaign, it is crucial to understand their functionality and seamlessly integrate them into your advertising strategy. Here is a breakdown of how they work:

  • Each asset group allows for up to 25 unique search themes. Similar themes, such as “coat” and “jacket,” will be treated as the same audience.
  • Search themes will be subject to any brand exclusions in Performance Max or account-level negative keywords you have implemented, ensuring your ads do not appear where they should not.
  • Search ads generated from search themes will guide your customers to specified landing pages based on your Final URL expansion, page feeds, and “URL contains” settings.
  • Search themes are prioritized the same way your broad and phrase match keywords are in your Search campaigns. Exact match keywords that match the search queries will be given precedence over search themes.
  • The search categories that your ads matched with through search term will be visible in your search terms insights at both the campaign and account levels—adding additional transparency into Performance Max results. You can also view these search term insights for custom date ranges, download data, and access it via the API.

Search Themes Replacing Some Custom Segments

In early 2024, Google says it will update existing custom segments based on search activity to the new search themes. After this transition, you will no longer have the ability to add or edit Custom Segments based on past search activity.

This change is just the latest update that Google has pinned for Q1 2024. Recently, the digital giant also announced that its new campaign type, Demand Gen, will replace Discovery campaigns early next year. Demand Gen is another AI-powered campaign type that brings some of the same principles behind Performance Max to video channels and other Discovery placements.

It’s all part of Google’s continuing AI revolution that is reshaping everything from Google Ads to the search engine results page itself. To stay on top the latest digital marketing changes, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter—and if you have any questions about how the ADM uses the latest digital marketing tools to take your ads to the next level, feel free to contact our team today.