With all the hype surrounding Google Ads’ Performance Max (PMax) campaign we decided to take a deeper look into exactly what this black box is really doing with your hotel marketing dollars.

NB: This is an article from three&six, one of our Expert Partners

Our clever team have analyzed keyword data from these notoriously opaque campaigns, and uncovered the truth about PMax for hotels.

Pinpointing PMax?

Google describes PMax as a new goal-based campaign type that allows performance advertisers to access all of their Google Ads inventory from a single campaign. It’s designed to complement your keyword-based Search campaigns to help you find more converting customers across all of Google’s channels like:

  • YouTube
  • Display
  • Search
  • Discover 
  • Gmail 
  • Maps

Originally launched in 2021, PMax has been around for a while and uses AI and machine learning to allocate your budget where mere human advertisers fear to tread (or so we’re told).

Ads are created automatically from user-generated headlines and content allowing Google to use them in any order they feel is optimal for performance. Google even automatically creates assets and marketing language that it feels may be a better fit than your own carefully crafted branding message.

We’re also told that Google analyzes your hotel website and gains insights from the content you display about your property.

Sounds like a marketer’s dream, right?

PMax Problems

The biggest issue all marketers have faced with PMax is the lack of detail in the Google Ads platform. Due to the way Pmax works, there is no keyword data … like, none at all. You have to go hunting for this data and even then it is opaque and not as presentable as other campaign keyword data is. This got us thinking (and worrying) – why is there such a lack of transparency?

It’s also not just keyword data, but also channel data. There’s a distinct lack of information that shows where your marketing spend is going. How much is going to Youtube vs Gmail is virtually impossible to find.

So, this just made us more determined.

PMax Policy Puzzles

It’s no secret within digital marketing circles that PMax will target your hotel brand name search terms unless you instruct Google not to do this. However, we had suspicions that PMax was not adhering to their own policies.

Google’s help file say that:

  • Performance Max complements existing search campaigns and respects your keyword targeting.
  • If the user’s query is identical to an eligible search keyword of any match type in your account, the search campaign will be prioritized over Performance Max.
  • If the query isn’t identical to an eligible search keyword, the campaign or ad with the highest Ad Rank, which considers creative relevance and performance, will be selected.

On the face of it, everything seems fine, but Google goes on to list a host of circumstances where they will overrule these policies. Things like limited budget and targeting are reasons Google can show PMax over your standard campaigns.

This led us to question exactly how often this was happening.

Read the full article at three&six