Google adds search themes to Performance Max

Search themes are a new, optional signal that let you add information about customers or your business in Performance Max.

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Google today is adding search themes – a new, optional signal – to Performance Max.

Search themes are a new way for advertisers to provide information about a business (e.g., what topics lead to conversions) or customers (e.g., search queries your customers are likely to use) to help improve performance.

As Google explained:

  • “When you add search themes, you’re telling Google AI you want to reach that traffic in your Performance Max campaign across all Google Ads inventory, including Search, YouTube, Gmail, Discover, Maps, and Display. Search themes also help you find audiences across channels based on users’ search behavior.”

Google also emphasized that for Search inventory, “exact match keywords that are identical to the search queries will continue to be prioritized over search themes and other keywords.”

Filling in knowledge “gaps.” With search themes, Performance Max can go beyond using assets, feeds and landing pages to predict campaign-level performance. Google provided five examples of where it makes sense for advertisers to use search themes:

  • Your landing page doesn’t have complete details or the latest updates about the products and services you offer.
  • You’ve just expanded into a new market or launched a new product or service where your campaigns don’t have extensive performance history.
  • You are launching a new promotion or sale for the holiday season where you don’t have extensive performance history. 
  • You want to expand your reach within Performance Max—including on Search inventory in Performance Max—and ensure you have comprehensive coverage on important business themes.
  • You want to provide important information to help your campaign ramp up and optimize performance faster.

How it works. According to Google:

  • You can add 25 unique search themes per asset group (e.g., “car” and “automobile” would be the same audience).
  • Search themes will respect brand exclusions in Performance Max and account-level negative keywords.
  • Results driven from search themes will bring your customers to the landing pages you’ve indicated via your Final URL expansion, page feeds, and URL contains settings.
  • Search themes will have the same prioritization as your phrase match and broad match keywords in your Search campaigns.
  • You’ll be able to see the search categories that your ads matched to in your search terms insights at both the campaign and account levels, and associated conversion performance. You can now view search term insights for custom date ranges, download your data, and access it via the API.

New help doc. You can find instructions from Google on how to add search themes to campaigns, as well as FAQs, here.

About the author

Danny Goodwin
Danny Goodwin has been Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & Search Marketing Expo - SMX since 2022. He joined Search Engine Land in 2022 as Senior Editor. In addition to reporting on the latest search marketing news, he manages Search Engine Land’s SME (Subject Matter Expert) program. He also helps program U.S. SMX events.

Goodwin has been editing and writing about the latest developments and trends in search and digital marketing since 2007. He previously was Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal (from 2017 to 2022), managing editor of Momentology (from 2014-2016) and editor of Search Engine Watch (from 2007 to 2014). He has spoken at many major search conferences and virtual events, and has been sourced for his expertise by a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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