Google released the new search themes beta for performance max campaigns yesterday, and yes, I’m excited about it. Any additional targeting or optimization tools in PMax are a win.

I will be updating this blog on a weekly basis to publicly document any interesting results for the new Search Themes feature.

I’m Testing Search Themes For PMax, and Invite You To Follow Along

Test Details

Start Date:


Client Profile

The client is a small travel agency specializing in custom trips to Peru, Costa Rica, Everest Base Camp, Argentina, Easter Island, and other locales. The monthly average budget is $7,000, and we have search campaigns in place for each trip the client wishes to sell. We also have a PMax campaign with separate asset groups for the Inca Trail and Costa Rica.

Signals in Place Prior to the Addition of Search Themes

In short, we are able to use nearly every audience signal except for customer match:

  • Remarketing audiences from the website
  • A good deal of past conversion data from the search campaigns
  • A custom intent audience
  • In-market audiences for this particular vacation 

Baseline Metrics

I will be comparing performance against these metrics:

  • In the Costa Rica campaign, a cost per form submission of $19
  • In the Inca Trail (Peru) campaign, a cost per form submission of $17
  • (monthly budget for PMax is around $1K)

Will Search Themes Be Useful, Or Redundant?

I’m optimistic, and there’s a good chance this feature will improve the quality of PMax traffic, thereby lowering CPLs for accounts. But Google did say that they will be rolling custom intent audiences into the search themes feature in early 2024:

So is the Search Themes tool the same thing as creating custom intent audiences based on a list of keywords? Many of us already use custom audiences. Hopefully, tests will definitively answer this question.

About Me

I’m a Google Ads consultant and SEO expert specializing in lead generation for clients across the US (and occasionally other countries).

If you have unique insights that you’d like me to add to this post, or if you’d like to chat about your campaigns, please get in touch.