As part of Advertising Week, Google announced new product, campaign, and automation features. Whilst most of these will be warmly received, there is one in particular which has stuck out to us, especially when considered in combination with Google’s position on the Digital Services Tax.

Google have announced in their keynote the introduction of Performance Max campaigns, lauded as the “most complete solution” for advertisers outside of standard search. Whilst I’m personally suffering angst about the name (at Goodstuff we’re built on the mantra of nothing is ever fully optimised), we’re also foreseeing this as Google pushing harder for revenue from a single campaign goal across all platforms.

The Performance Max campaigns will run across the entirety of Google’s inventory – Display, YouTube, Gmail, Discover, Shopping, and Search. The idea behind this is that rather than having multiple campaigns per inventory type with specific strategies and creatives by channel, you instead hand the reigns over to Google’s machine learning to auto-optimise all of it for you cross-channel in within one campaign.

At Goodstuff we absolutely believe in platform-first creative and building specific strategies across channels that ladder up into the overarching ambitions of a campaign, ensuring each variable is optimised to give it the best possible opportunity to succeed. Google are seemingly saying that this is unnecessary, and that the power of machine learning can do all of the hard work for you with a lot less effort on the buy-side.

We can see the benefit to using these campaigns, especially for businesses who are short on time and/or resource, or those that have single focused objectives and product to communicate and therefore less complex digital deployment. But to simply put all of Google’s products into one campaign type is not the right approach for the majority of clients, and it is our responsibility as agencies to ensure that we do the right thing by buying what is right for the client, rather than what is right for Google.

Just a few short weeks ago Google announced that they would be passing on the 2% digital services tax to advertisers.

When you take this in combination with the Performance Max campaign type, it would be fair to suggest that Google are pushing hard to increase spend and revenue, but is this at the expense of advertiser? The 2% tax adds hard cost, Performance Max removes nuanced strategy and objectives as well as a layer of transparency and control whilst forcing monopoly of the supply chain from access to media through to performance measurement.

This leads to a question about in-housing, which continues to sit at the top of the list for many brands, potentially even more so now in these times where budgets are being reviewed and contracts renegotiated. We believe that the Performance Max campaign type is a clear sign from Google, showing that in 2021 and beyond they are willing to significantly reduce the knowledge gap and expertise required to activate digital, a key decisioning point that businesses may no longer need to navigate if considering an in-house solution.

Whilst this might sound good on paper, you ultimately lose out on all of those benefits you get from working with agencies: the cross-pollination of learnings, being at the forefront of creativity and inventiveness, the lean-in collaboration across challenges within and beyond media, and most importantly the love and care we put into our clients’ businesses.

If this announcement is an indicator of things to come in 2021 and beyond, then we’ll need to continue to demonstrate this in every single thing we do.


Laurie Wright | Group Biddable Director

Sarah Treliving | Digital, Data & Technology Director