Guidelines for using the Google Ads Performance Planner

In 2022, more businesses use Google Ads than ever before. As an established, effective PPC channel, Google Ads offers immense opportunities for visibility, conversions, and business growth. But it is for this exact reason that competition has also become fierce – and the market is somewhat volatile, as Google itself notes. As one of the top digital marketing agencies in New York, we at Digital Dot fully understand this challenging context. To help you navigate these murky waters, then, we are here to offer some guidelines for using the Google Ads Performance Planner tool.

What is the Google Ads Performance Planner?

First, let’s start with the basics. We will be brief for these introductory sections, for clarity and text economy, but we’ll also be linking relevant resources to let you dig deeper at your leisure.

In simple terms, Performance Planner is a forecasting tool in Google Ads, which allows marketers to optimize their marketing plans. The way it functions is slightly complex, but Google helpfully explains:

“Performance Planner takes into account billions of search queries and is usually updated every 24 hours. Performance Planner simulates relevant ad auctions over the last 7-10 days, including variables like seasonality, competitor activity, and landing page.

After running simulations and collecting data, the accuracy of Performance Planner forecasts are measured for running campaigns against their actual eventual performance and machine learning is used to fine-tune your forecasts.”

The benefits of this tool should thus already be evident. By forecasting campaign performance, Performance Tool offers optimizations that data suggests can reach up to a 43% conversion rate improvement. And as Google’s internal tools improve, so too will this increasingly integral part of Google Ads.

Which plans are eligible for Performance Planner?

Now, not all campaign plans are eligible for Performance Planner – hence this section. The tool requires some historical data to guarantee effectiveness, alongside a few other factors.

For the abridged version, you may refer to the following condensed table by PPCexpo:

A table outlining eligible and ineligible campaigns for the Google Ads Performance Planner tool.

However, that’s only the condensed version, so we strongly encourage you to consult Google’s aforelinked article for the full table. If you’d still like more information on Performance Planner, you may also refer to Google’s documentation.

Before using the Google Ads Performance Planner

Next, before you begin using this tool, we should also briefly note some fundamental best practices. In no particular order, consider the following.

  • Catch up with paid search trends. Being a competitive paid search marketer is becoming increasingly difficult, so it’s best to come prepared. The more robust your plans, the better this tool will perform in your hands.
  • Ramp up your SEO. In addition, remember that the other half of SEM comes in SEO. SEO obstacles abound, and tackling them early can enhance your PPC campaigns too.
  • Polish your website design. Finally, Google itself notes that your landing page itself is a factor – and we’ll add that so is your website. To reduce bounce rates and ensure conversions, consider web design New York solutions in line with your needs.

As regards bounce rates and web design specifically, we’ve also written an article on the subject you may find useful.

Using the Google Ads Performance Planner to make plan improvements

With the above in mind, next we may outline the basics of using the tool itself before delving into guidelines. In order, the process is as follows.

Access the Performance Planner

The natural first step, first you’ll have to access the tool. To do so,

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account
  2. Select the tools icon at the top-right corner
  3. Select “Performance Planner”

This should look as follows:

A screenshot of the Google Ads dashboard, highlighting the Google Ads Performance Planner tool.

Create a plan and add campaigns

Next, navigate to “Create a plan” and select “Continue”.

For this step, you should ideally add campaigns with similar goals to ensure better accuracy.

Select date and metric parameters

Next, select the dates you wish to forecast for, and select the metrics you deem most valuable. Those can include:

  • Clicks
  • Conversions
  • Conversion values

Finalize your plan and compare

This step is where using the Google Ads Performance Planner tool can get just a bit tricky for some. Once you select “Create Plan” you’ll be redirected to the complete overview of your plan. The forecast graph will include two dots:

  • A gray dot represents predicted performance based on existing campaign settings, and
  • A blue dot represents predicted performance based on planned settings.

Next, you may select “Improve Plan” to have the tool apply suggested changes. Here, the “Compare” feature will offer a clear overview of predicted performance changes compared to your spending:

A screenshot of the “compare” feature of the Google Ads Performance Planner tool.

Here you may also return to the “Create Plan” page to add a target KPI through the “Target (optional)” field. While it’s indeed optional, doing so will also enhance the planner’s suggestions – so we highly recommend it.

Implement changes to your Google Ads account

Finally, remember that any changes you make using the planner will not apply to your campaigns automatically. Rather, you will need to download your final results and upload the file to Google Ads Editor.

To do so, you will simply need to:

  1. Click the download icon in the top-right corner once you’re done
  2. Choose “Ads Editor file (.csv)”
  3. Import the .csv file to your Google Ads Editor

For visual reference, the resulting file should look like this:

A screenshot of an exported the Google Ads Performance Planner change plan.

Guidelines for using the Google Ads Performance Planner

Now, as a PPC agency NYC trusts, we cannot conclude this overview before also delving into some key guidelines. Still, we’ll try to keep this final section reasonably brief as well, to avoid unpleasantly padding out this article.

#1: Remember the Performance Planner does not guarantee results

To some, this may go without saying, but it bears noting; the Planner’s forecasts are directional, not guarantees. The tool does improve over time, as Google’s machine learning improves, and rich historical data can further enhance accuracy. However, as in most things marketing, there are no guarantees – especially in this volatile environment, as we’ll touch on below.

#2: Have your campaigns share similar goals

A crucial factor that affects forecast accuracy and plan cohesion resides in campaign goal similarity. Trying to optimize campaigns with different goals at the same time may both skew results and produce a final plan that doesn’t quite make sense. So especially if you need to get changes through your C-suite, it’s ideal to combine campaigns with similar goals like:

  • Brand awareness
  • Enhanced CPC
  • Target CPA

If you need an overview of valuable PPC KPIs, we’ve also written a digestible article on the subject.

#3: Accuracy also depends on timing

Next, when using the Google Ads Performance Planner, it’s also vital to remember that forecast accuracy also depends on timing. In simple terms, the closer you are to your forecast period, the more likely it is that forecasts are correct. The further into the future you forecast, the more likely it becomes that external market factors and volatility skew results.

Market volatility is indeed crucial at the time of writing this article – so much so that Google also suggests caution:

A screenshot of Google’s warning on market volatility and changes for the Google Ads Performance Planner tool users.

#4: Plan across accounts

Still, you may even enhance the tool’s effectiveness by planning across accounts. A flexible account structure allows for more flexible plans, where you can add campaigns from multiple accounts into one plan. You may want to do so for such reasons as:

  • Similar campaign goals
  • Similar timeframes
  • Budgeting structures

Of course, it is crucial that you don’t undermine your efforts in doing so instead of benefitting. Thus, while this practice can offer its perks, we recommend exploring it once you’ve acquired sufficient experience with the Planner.

#5: Set a manual conversion rate if you need to

Finally, you may set manual conversion rates; the Performance Planner does offer this handy option. This is typically useful for such cases as:

  • Lacking enough conversion history
  • Having some conversion history, but feeling unconfident in its forecasting accuracy
  • Wanting to project CRO effects on PPC campaigns

So you may indeed find some uses for this feature, but we must advise that you exercise caution with it. Exaggerating conversion rates may lead your plan astray, and underestimating them may end up costing valuable results. To input as accurate conversion rates as possible, you may examine your industry’s and your competitors’ rates and adjust accordingly.

Conclusion

To summarize, using the Google Ads Performance Planner can substantially benefit your PPC campaigns. This invaluable tool’s forecasting capabilities and improvement suggestions can increase your conversion rates, improve your cost-effectiveness, and ultimately help your business grow. Hopefully, the above overview, guidelines, and linked resources helped you leverage it effectively.

Should you need further help with your Google Ads campaigns, the Performance Planner tool, or anything else PPC or digital marketing, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our teams will be more than happy to assist you and help your business thrive.

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