Upgrading DSA to Performance Max

Nothing stays the same for long in Paid Search and the last few years have seen several new campaign types being introduced or upgraded. One campaign upgrade that has flown under the radar to an extent is the option to upgrade your Dynamic Search Ad (DSA) campaigns to Performance Max, which launched in July 2023. 

DSA has long been a popular (if polarising at times) option in Google Ads. It offers advertisers a time-effective way of covering gaps in their account structure by automatically generating ad headlines based on the content of specified landing pages.

It was one of Google Ads earlier forays into automation, but Performance Max has greater automation capabilities, with Final URL Expansion and the ability to use page feeds to specify Final URLs at Asset Group level two of the more pertinent.


What are the main opportunities and challenges?

  • Expanded Inventory – Performance Max can serve across Search, Display, YouTube, Gmail and Maps – a significant expansion compared to Search-specific DSA meaning that advertisers can reach users at various stages of the funnel. This also presents a challenge as the multi-format approach of Performance Max requires a lot of asset input, a step away from the automation of DSA. Automatically created assets are becoming more sophisticated – and unlike DSA don’t rely on strong on-site SEO – but few advertisers will currently want to rely on them!
  • Targeting – there is a significant change here as DSA was based around the advertiser choosing which landing page they wanted to target, whereas Performance Max allows the advertiser to specify a landing page and then switch on Final URL Expansion if they want to target more landing pages from that Asset Group. You can create multiple Asset Groups and specify separate landing pages, but depending on budget/product range/resource this may not be a practical option. There is some control as you choose to exclude pages, but it’s a different approach to DSA which is inclusion-based.
  • Insight – although it has improved since introduction, Performance Max is still notoriously light on Insight, especially compared to DSA which allows you to interrogate a Search Term Report. As an agency, we make use of scripts to extract greater insight from the Google Ads API and have developed reporting and dashboards off the back of this to provide greater insight and highlight potential opportunities to expand activity elsewhere in the account.


Although no end date for DSA has been set yet, it pays to be proactive, so advertisers using DSA that don’t have Performance Max live should consider upgrading or building out a specific Performance Max campaign to learn what works for them before it becomes a necessity.