Google adds search themes to Performance Max: All you need to know

Google’s Performance Max campaigns were introduced with the goal of making advertising across its various properties (search, video, Gmail and Maps, Discover, Gmail) easy to manage.

It’s easy to get started with Performance Max. How do you optimize Performance Max campaigns? This can be a lot more challenging.

Google has recently released ” search theme,” a beta feature designed to help advertisers target their ads using a similar approach to keyword-based advertising that is familiar to most advertisers. This article will explain what search themes are and how they can be used.

What are the search themes for Performance Max?

Google’s fully automated campaign type gives you very little control. Although you can use audience signals and improve your website, product feed, and ad assets to target your Google Ads campaigns, this is still lacking in comparison to the other Google Ads targeting options. Running search ads with Performance Max can be frustrating, especially for those of us who are used to keyword targeting.

Search themes is a new feature that allows advertisers to give Google some additional context or signals that will help them target their Performance Max campaign. Google can share search themes with advertisers to show how they expect customers to find their products and services.

Google can now use these themes to better target audiences based on search behavior. Google can use these search topics to refine its Performance Max campaign goals or to achieve new relevant placements in the SERP.

Search themes are an optional feature of Performance Max campaigns. We’ve seen that Performance Max campaigns are more effective when given better signals. I would encourage you to provide Google with at least a couple of search themes so it can optimize your campaign. Advertisers are allowed to provide up to 25 themes for each asset group.

Search themes will replace custom segments based on intent

Google announced that it will end support for custom segments, based on previous search activity in Performance Max campaigns, by early 2024. These audience segments will be automatically upgraded to Search Themes.

These audiences were formerly known as “Custom Intent audiences.” They used signals that were very similar to the new Search themes. This allowed them to target people based on past Google searches. This audience signal is identical to Google’s “search themes beta” and will not negatively affect campaign performance. It should streamline workflows and make signal management easier for marketers.

Search campaigns and other campaign types will continue to use custom segments created based on past search activity. All different custom segments (affinities and interests, apps, URLs, and demographics) will also continue to exist and function in Performance Max campaigns. They serve as valuable audience indicators for Google’s ongoing optimization.

How can I create search themes for my Performance Max campaigns?

Google’s Search Themes is a beta feature that is not available to all advertisers. However, it is expected to be released to more advertisers over the rest of the year.

  1. Add search themes to Performance Max campaigns by:
  2. Choose a Performance Max campaign.
  3. Select an Asset group. Select an Asset group.
  4. You’ll see a “Signals” card next to your ad asset in the Asset group. Click on the pencil icon to edit these signals.
  5. You’ll find the Search Themes Beta here. Advertisers are able to add up to 25 search themes unique per asset group in order to improve the signals for their Performance Max campaign. Each search theme can only be no longer than 80 characters.
  6. Scroll down to the bottom and save any changes you make to your Asset Group Signals!

You can edit or remove search themes at any time using this menu. Google no longer uses the signal once it has been changed or removed.

Google may still serve ads for similar searches if they believe it is relevant. Search themes will respect your brand exclusions and account-level negative keyword settings. You’ll want to keep these tools in place if you wish to your Performance Max campaigns to stop generating irrelevant traffic.

What will my search ads look like if I use the Performance Max themes?

Both Performance Max campaigns and traditional search campaigns can serve ads in the Google SERP or search partner engines. Advertising campaigns that are both Performance Max and search campaigns can often cause issues for advertisers. Both campaigns are targeting the same searches, and they may have to serve different ads to those searches. Search themes within Performance Max can help advertisers avoid some of these issues.

Google gives priority to exact-match keywords, which are the same as the search. Google’s Search themes receive the same importance as phrase and broad match keywords.

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