Companies have been warned against using Google’s Performance Max platform to generate leads.

Concerns have been raised by AdTech entrepreneur Elizabeth Clark and Jyll Saskin Gales, a Google Ads expert and marketing coach based in Canada, over the new goal-based campaigns.

Performance Max allows advertisers to access all of their Google Ads inventory from a single campaign. It is ostensibly designed to complement keyword-based search campaigns to help performance advertisers find more converting customers across channels including YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail and Maps.

Google says it optimises performance in real-time by combining its automation technologies across bidding, budget optimisation, audiences, creatives and attribution.

However Clark, CEO of Dream Agility – based in Ramsbottom, Lancashire – says the system means users “no longer have control” over their campaigns.

“You’re going to give the money to Google and they’re gonna do whatever the hell they like with it – spend it on whatever they want – and you won’t be able to see what they’re doing,” she tells BusinessCloud. “You’re going to have no transparency. … it’s a step too far.”

Earlier this year Google delayed its plans to phase out third-party tracking cookies – instigated amid increasing legislation around data privacy – until the second half of 2024.

Dream Agility

“They’re doing it (Performance Max), so they say, so that when the cookie stuff comes out, they’ll be able to onboard people into buckets made up of people whose data has been randomised and anonymised,” Clark continues.

“But you’ll have no idea where your traffic has come from and how – it will just be an approximation of what’s happened with no real numbers in there anymore.

“You might be getting sales, but you’ll have no idea what happened in between – other than what they’re telling you.”

Saskin Gales, writing in a blog post, said eCommerce companies should begin to test in Performance Max – but warned against using it for lead generation. “Regardless of business objectives, don’t even think about testing Performance Max unless you’re prepared to spend at least $50-100 per day for at least a month,” she advises.

“Without it, it’s unlikely you’ll generate enough data and learning for the format to work properly.”

Clark’s business – which featured on our MarTech 50 ranking – has created AI to manage Google Shopping and Search, Facebook, Instagram and Microsoft Ads.

It says that only 5% of the keywords in a company’s ad account convert, while a website converts at between 2-10%. Dream Agility aims to make use of the waste data, allowing companies to aggressively optimise ads for sales revenues, rather than just for form fills.

“We’re supposed to be clamping down on big monopolies [in the UK and Europe], putting things in place to protect consumers and businesses – and that’s just not happened at all,” says Clark, who believes that eCommerce businesses should also reconsider using Performance Max.

“They’ll buy stock to sell [on Google Shopping] and have no control over what sells… you could be left at the end of the season with a load of stock.

“We’re meant to have more transparency, not less transparency.”