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Episode 87

Part 2: Is Performance Max Ready For Lead Generation Companies?

Matz Lukmani
EMEA Product Lead, Google Performance Max at Google

In this episode of Leader Generation, Tessa Burg and Matz Lukmani continue their conversation about Google Performance Max and its benefits for marketers.

Related Episode: Part 1: Is Performance Max Ready For Lead Generation Companies?

Matz assures listeners that Performance Max isn’t just for businesses with short sales cycles; it’s also adaptable for longer cycles. He emphasizes the need to map out the entire lead-to-conversion journey for effective tracking.

Throughout the discussion, Matz shares practical tips for boosting lead conversion rates. But it’s not all technical talk. Tessa and Matz also explore strategies for campaign optimization, including ways to prevent ad fatigue and protect brand reputation.

“PMax uses the best of Google AI to reach the right audience with the right messaging and the right creators based on what’s uploaded to convert them.”

Matz wraps up the episode by suggesting additional resources and training to help listeners learn more about capturing leads with Performance Max.

Key Topics In This Episode:


  • Importance of data quality and accuracy
  • The relevance of PMax for short or long lead cycles
  • Tips to optimize PMax campaigns
  • Using measurement foundations
  • Success stories of companies using PMax
  • Reaching the right audience with PMax
  • Brand safety offerings and control settings
  • Importance of first-party data
  • Resources for more information and training

Full Episode Transcripts

Tessa Burg: Hi, and welcome to another episode of Leader Generation, brought to you by Mod Op. I’m your host, Tessa Burg, and today we’re going to continue into the second half of our conversation with Matz Lukmani. If you missed it, catch the first half of our conversation on Google Performance Max and all the new features that marketers can now use to target and convert more audiences across the entire Googleverse. You can visit modop.com, M-O-D-O-P.com to see all the episodes. And with that, let’s jump back into our conversation with Matz.

Yeah, there is a really large focus here on quality data, in accuracy, in how you analyze the data, how you classify it, and how you organize it. And I think that’s where marketers need to focus their shift, is a away from this, “I’m making decisions on the best place to put this,” and PMax is taking care of optimizing across the entire Googleverse. And it really is about how are we making sure that we’re being accurate and have high quality to get the most success out of this. But it takes a long time for our customers to go from a click to revenue, for leads to mature that way. And again, that patience is so important.

Some people might be wondering, with these shifts and changes, is PMax the right product for me? And maybe that depends on lead cycles, but what are your thoughts there for people who are trying to figure out if PMax is a good solution for them?

Matz Lukmani: Yeah, I totally get you because some businesses are very, I would say, turnkey. You submit a form online, you’re very close to conversions. And others, the cycle might take a long time between a lead online towards a conversion, can even span up to multiple months. The simple answer is yes, PMax is still very relevant for you, but with some special settings. And it’s super important and critical to do the step one, map your lead-to-conversion journey. While doing that, account for your conversion delays and measure results accordingly. That is, if it takes five days on an average for most clicks to turn into conversions and maybe two more days for you to set up a conversion value in Google Ads for those conversions, then it’s important to factor this time into your measurement of results. In short, don’t eat your cake before it’s baked. Keeps life easier for you.

The second step is setting up qualified proxies of values at the right time. Let’s say if you are able to predict the value of conversion based on likelihood of them buying your product or service downstream, then pass that value back to PMax campaigns to learn from and optimize towards it. In general, if you can pass us a proxy value for a conversion within 7 to 14-day window, then it’s perfect input for our campaigns. You don’t need to be perfect. Good enough is great to start with.

Finally, it’s super critical again, to utilize the following measurement foundations. First, enhanced conversion for leads. This sends the value data to us in a future-proof way. The second, consent mode, this recovers any lost conversions in privacy preserving fashion, especially important for customers in Europe and EMEA markets. And then finally, if you have limited time to set up on this podcast, reach out to your Google reps or your agency partners, and figure out what’s the best foundational technology that you can use to unlock growth for your business using PMax.

To close this point, advertisers with long sales cycles don’t want to always be able to optimize towards a final sale, but they should be able to map an event that is predictive and it’s quick enough that can qualify the lead, and that’s still a strong enough signal for our system. I can maybe quote one of our customers, Gulliver, who are a used car distribution company in Asia, and their marketing team lead [inaudible 00:04:00] said, “We thought Performance Max would be a good match for our success prediction models from search campaigns. Following best practices, we saw improvements and we created a success story in the search area and beyond.” Gulliver used Target ROAS to balance quality and quantity of leads from Performance Max and drove results. They drove up to 140% increase final conversion rates, at 30% decrease in final cost of conversions, at a better ROAS, almost 10% better ROAS with PMax.

Their challenge was very similar to the challenges of some advertisers with long conversion window. For example, Gulliver was focused on cost-effective lead acquisition, so effectiveness of their advertising was precisely measured using a proprietary measurement system, which included number of online conversions, store visits, contracts and profits. So it’s a combination of multiple variables. While PMax was successful in earning large number of leads from a wide range of different customers, there was room for improvement in quality. And they switched from a target CPA bidding towards more advanced form of bidding, and that gave them better balance between quality and lead volumes, which was really their main challenge with Gulliver’s Performance Max campaign. The approach they took, which was successful in their case, was switched from Target CTA to a Target ROAS or a return on ad spend campaign type.

They used a prediction model data, which was built by their own dataset as a value for their final conversions, and optimizing their conversion values, and fed that data back into their bidding systems. They also upgraded their display and discovery campaigns into PMax to reallocate budgets, and then uploaded this high-value performance creatives that they already had for now display campaigns in the future or in the present now. PMax campaigns, they use things like a remarketing list, custom intent signals to help power their AI, and with that they saw these successes of increased conversion rate at lower ROAS. So overall, great success. And something we know we can see with big advertisers that have longer, I would say, journey to conversion. It’s totally possible. It just requires these special settings.

Tessa Burg: And I think that’s really important because sometimes, again, patience is key. It doesn’t have to be, when you have those longer lead conversion times, you know that you’re optimizing across a journey. One of the concerns might be is, “I want to avoid over that journey reaching the same customer over and over again. How can I achieve that with PMax?” We hear that feedback all the time.

Matz Lukmani: Yeah, I think that’s a very valid feedback, and maybe just to center it back on Performance Max, it is a fully optimized AI driven campaign. It’s based on finding the probability of conversions for your brands. Hence, inputs like audiences, assets, values, this will help you find the right target audience and convert them. So it’s automated in that fashion. It does the targeting, it does the matching for you based on the signals you give, rather than just our targets. You want to take extra care in not just introducing any legacy controls back into PMax as heart controls. As a lot of this is dependent on third party cookies, which are going through an evolution in itself. So as they evolve, we will bring in different control sets, but as basic PMax does operate towards optimizing towards the users that have the high probability to convert for your brand.

Having said that, I acknowledge you don’t want to reach the same users with the same campaigns. In some cases, you want to actually design campaigns that go after new customer acquisition. And I do have a pro-tip that can be helpful here if you haven’t heard of this new campaign type called new Customer Acquisition Goals in PMax. This does exactly that. So the new customer acquisition goals in PMax helps you target new customers only by making sure your ads don’t serve on existing customers. But they do that not based on hard targets of a third party cookie set. It’s based on your first-party data. How, you may ask. Well, very simply said, it utilizes your first-party data, that’s essentially a customer match uploads, that adds this extra layer of precision and then excludes anyone out there who doesn’t match that list.

So it goes after people who are not on your list but look like they may convert. So it’s a pretty neat trick, but it gives you the same impact using slightly different measures. This is a fairly newly launched feature. A lot of our advertisers are using it. There is one really cool case study Swapfiets. They are the world’s first bicycle subscription company. Any guesses where they are from, Tessa?

Tessa Burg: Well, I actually have a guess because I just got back from spring break in Amsterdam, and there were… I mean, everybody rides their bike. It was the most startling thing I’ve ever seen, to have so many, lack of cars. So anywhere near there?

Matz Lukmani: Yes, very close if not exactly there. So, yes, they’re from Netherlands and they’re the first bicycle subscription company in the world, which is cool. And they use our new customer acquisition campaign type for PMax. They found great success with it. Their subscription based bicycle company, they operate in nine markets or nine countries in Europe. They use new customer acquisition goal or this specific mode for Performance Max campaign and drove up to 36% increase in transactions and 44% lower cost per acquisition for new customers. So it did the trick for them.

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Tessa Burg: Yeah, it’s crazy how many people ride their bike, but it was also really inspiring. I might be one of their new customers because I definitely want to spend more time in the Netherlands for that reason. And this gets back to how important that first-party data is. This feature is new customer acquisition goals, and the customer match is really about extracting more value out of the data you’re getting from your customers. And I know that a lot of our clients are getting very creative about how they engage customers now to gather more first-party data. Another piece of feedback that we get around that, and as AI and ML continues to evolve across the entire digital landscape, we’re seeing this shift back to prioritizing and spending more time with my brand. So I know, especially across digital channels, brands are always concerned about protecting [inaudible 00:11:18] their exposure. How with the… I’m afraid the automated nature of PMax campaign could reach sensitive audiences that might not be ideal for the brand. How does Google protect against that or provide brands some reassurances?

Matz Lukmani: Again, start us off. PMax uses the best of Google AI to reach the right audience with the right messaging and the right creators based on what’s uploaded to convert them. And I fully acknowledge the need to protect your brand while reaching these right audiences. You want to be controlled in your reach because your brand is worth a lot more than just a conversion that you have online. It stands for a lot more. So first thing, keep in mind all your account-level settings, exclusions are automatically applied to PMax campaigns running under the same MCC master account, your Google Ads master accounts. Hence, make sure you run your PMax campaigns in the same master account as your YouTube, Google Display, Search Campaigns, et cetera, et cetera. This also includes account level negative keywords, so if you have those excluded, they will automatically apply to all campaigns and search as well as PMax.

This automatically makes your PMax campaign. Essentially use universal rule book when it’s serving your ads versus any other campaigns in your account. So it does follow that same rule book of exclusions, per se. Now, additionally, you could use our brand safety offerings to control the reach of your campaigns, and all of this starts with your content suitability center, so it’s a best place to start in it. You can start by picking the right audience or right inventory mode as we call it. There are three of them, expanded inventory that gives you the broadest reach, standard inventory, which is our general recommendation. It produces your reach, but it tries to make sure you reach the right audience so they convert. So you have the best of both, a little bit of reach as well as quality. And then limited inventory mode, which is ideal for sensitive brands.

If you’re one of them, you know it and you want to use limited inventory mode. Each mode has specific reach and audience attributes that it grows after. So it’s designed based on what we know about users and our websites that are part of this Google Ads ecosystem. Additionally, you can use some fun new settings. Some very recently launched, for example, the excluded theme setting that excludes specific content themes that are not right for your audience. Let’s say, for example, gamings on fighting websites, so games and fights you don’t like, that you can exclude them. News which are on sensitive topics or politics or religious, if you don’t like that kind of content and your brand to be visible there, you can exclude them as excluded themes. These excluded themes apply to YouTube and display inventory, so it’s a bit broader. And then you can go a little bit more surgical right after.

You can use something like placement exclusions that are account level exclusions for domains that you don’t want to be visible on. This also includes our search partner network beginning this March. And finally, you can also go even more surgical, let’s say, location exclusions if you want to reach users only based in a certain geolocation. For example, your university, which can only offer courses to students in the UK, it’s best for you to exclude everyone else from outside UK so you can use that kind of exclusion settings for locations. Finally, there’s a cool new feature that literally just went live a few weeks back, so it should be ready in your accounts.

It’s called IP exclusions for PMax, and this gives you another further exclusions, surgical exclusion, which will reduce any ad wastage happening from certain IP addresses that are known locations where you don’t want to be visible because you don’t think that’s where your prospective customer base is. So there’s a bunch of things you can do at a broad level. You can go a little bit more surgical and keep giving us feedback if there’s more things we can do to give you that control back so your brands are safe. We would want to make creating those settings for you.

Tessa Burg: And I think that is so important. We hear a lot about brand safety and people wanting to make sure they know where creative is coming from. They want to make sure that the creative that is produced is displayed in the right area. So being able to have the tools in front of you to protect your brand, I think, is going to be very valuable to managers as well as CMOs. So, this has been a very long and rich conversation. I don’t feel like we missed anything.

Matz Lukmani: I don’t think we have, but you can call me again if you need more input.

Tessa Burg: Yeah, no, this is a lot to chew on, and I think the only question I have is this is a lot of new features, a different way of approaching, doing traditional paid media marketing even across the Google universe. Where can people find more information, get supplemental training and start to really re-skill and change their mindset around this high-quality data and important first-party data, the accuracy piece? These are all new skills that marketers can add to their arsenal. Where do we have more information and more training?

Matz Lukmani: Yeah, that’s a good, valid question. How do you stay in touch and stay up to date on all these exciting new developments? Firstly, thank you so much to all the listeners for listening to this podcast because I know it was a lot to digest. The best place to start your journey is maybe reach out to your Google Ads account rep. They’re really your best friend when it comes to these updates, trainings, academies, courses that we have to offer. They’ll make sure you get your hands on them so you can stay up to speed. If you’re working with slightly complicated or complex business models, best to work with your agencies combined with Google Ads reps, so in this case Mod Op is not too bad. Reach out to them, they’ll be able to help you out. I’m personally there on LinkedIn, so you can find us or find me on LinkedIn and generally I’m very friendly so you can reach out and I’ll try and answer your questions.

Tessa Burg: Awesome. Fantastic. Well, thanks again for being a guest and if you want to hear more Leader Generation episodes, you can visit modop.com, M-O-D-O-P.com and we’ll connect again soon. Hopefully it won’t be another year.

Matz Lukmani: Yeah, thank you. Thank you all the listeners.

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Matz Lukmani

EMEA Product Lead, Google Performance Max at Google
Matz Lukmani from Google

Matz Lukmani (EMEA Product Lead, Google Performance Max), based in London (UK), has been with Google for more than nine years, working on products like Google Analytics 360, Google Ads, Search Ads 360 and Firebase Analytics. He currently leads Performance Max Campaigns and Attribution offerings within Google Ads, Search Ads 360 and Google Analytics in EMEA. He has worked over 15 years in the USA in various leadership roles at SAP, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Toys R Us, MediaCom, Triad Retail Media and PwC, to name a few. He offers analytics consulting services in web analytics, predictive analytics and advanced marketing AI across a wide range of industries. Be sure to follow Matz on LinkedIn.