Difference Between PMax and Display Campaigns on Google Ads

Google Ads

As a PPC agency London, we can tell you undoubtedly that Google Ads offers a plethora of advertising options, each tailored to your specific business goals and strategies. Two popular choices are PMax (Performance Max) campaigns and Display campaigns. Before you put down any money on either of these, here are the key distinctions between PMax and Display campaigns on Google Ads so that you can make informed choices for your online advertising efforts.

Performance Max (PMax) Campaigns

Performance Max campaigns, introduced by Google, are designed to simplify and maximise campaign performance across various Google properties and networks. PMax is an automated campaign type that leverages machine learning and automation to deliver your ads to potential customers in real-time across Google’s vast ecosystem, including Google Search, YouTube, Display Network, Discover, and Gmail. 

This means that PMax campaigns extend beyond the traditional Google Display Network. They allow your ads to reach potential customers across Google’s diverse properties, making it easier to connect with your audience where they are most engaged.

PMax campaigns are also highly automated. Google’s machine learning algorithms optimise ad placements and budgets dynamically, ensuring that your budget is used efficiently to achieve your desired campaign goals.

Moreover, setting up PMax campaigns is streamlined and user-friendly. Advertisers define their campaign objectives, provide ad assets, set budgets, and let Google’s algorithms do the rest.

PMax campaigns operate on a goal-based bidding system. Advertisers specify their target cost per action (CPA) or target return on ad spend (ROAS), and the campaign is optimised to achieve these goals efficiently.

PMax campaigns support a variety of ad formats, including text, image, video, and shopping ads. This versatility ensures that your ads are presented to users in engaging and effective ways.

Google’s algorithms analyse user behaviour and intent in real time to identify the most promising opportunities for ad placements. This means that your ads are continuously refined to maximize performance.

Display Campaigns

Display campaigns, on the other hand, are part of the Google Display Network (GDN), one of the largest advertising networks globally. These campaigns primarily focus on displaying visual ads (banners, videos, etc.) on websites, apps, and platforms within the GDN.

These campaigns are mostly visual, featuring a variety of ad formats, including image ads, video ads, responsive ads, and more. Display campaigns also have the potential to reach over 90% of internet users worldwide through the GDN. This expansive reach enables small businesses to connect with audiences they might not otherwise reach.

Furthermore, Display campaigns support an array of ad formats, making it possible to create visually engaging and interactive ads that capture users’ attention effectively.

Google Ads provides extensive targeting options for Display campaigns. You can target specific demographics, interests, and behaviours, and even remarket to users who have previously interacted with your website or ads.

What’s more is that Display campaigns offer flexible budgeting options, which allow small businesses to set daily or campaign-level budgets based on their financial constraints. This means that with a variety of bidding options, including cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM), businesses can optimise their ad spend to maximise results.

Lastly, Google Ads provides detailed insights into ad performance, enabling businesses to monitor key metrics and make data-driven optimisations.

Campaign Control

  • PMax: PMax campaigns are automated, meaning they require minimal manual intervention. Google’s algorithms determine where and when to show your ads based on campaign goals, budget, and targeting settings.
  • Display: Display campaigns offer more manual control over ad placements and targeting options. Advertisers can select specific websites, placements, or audiences to target.

Ad Formats

  • PMax: PMax campaigns support various ad formats, including text, image, video, and shopping ads. They are versatile and can adapt to different ad formats and sizes across Google’s networks.
  • Display: Display campaigns primarily focus on visual ad formats like image and video ads. While text ads are also an option, the emphasis is on visual content.


  • PMax: PMax campaigns extend beyond the Google Display Network, covering various Google properties like YouTube, Search, Discover, and Gmail. Ads are placed dynamically to reach potential customers across Google’s ecosystem.
  • Display: Display campaigns are confined to the Google Display Network, consisting of a vast network of websites, apps, and platforms where your ads can appear.

Budget and Bidding

  • PMax: PMax campaigns operate on a goal-based budget system. Advertisers set a target cost per action (CPA) or target return on ad spend (ROAS), and Google’s algorithms manage the budget allocation to maximise performance.
  • Display: In Display campaigns, advertisers have more control over budget allocation and bidding strategies. They can set manual bids, control daily budgets, and adjust bids for specific targeting options.


  • PMax: PMax campaigns offer automated audience targeting. Google’s algorithms analyse user behaviour and intent to reach potential customers likely to convert.
  • Display: Display campaigns provide extensive targeting options, including demographics, interests, keywords, placements, and remarketing. Advertisers can fine-tune their audience segments.

Choosing the Right Campaign Type

If you are looking for a hands-off approach to online advertising, PMax should be your go-to. They are well-suited for those with performance-focused goals and a desire for broad online visibility.

Display campaigns are suitable for businesses seeking more granular control over ad placements and targeting. They are a great choice when you want to specify where and to whom your ads appear.

Understanding the differences between PMax and Display campaigns on Google Ads is essential for small businesses to make informed advertising decisions. To review, PMax offers automation and broad reach, while Display campaigns provide control and customisation options. What you eventually choose should align with your business objectives, budget, and desired level of involvement in your advertising strategy.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.