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Choosing the Right Google Ads for Your Real Estate Business: PMax vs Search Campaigns

By: Larry Weideman

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As a real estate professional, you know the importance of effective online advertising to reach potential buyers and sellers.

Google Ads offers two main campaign types: Performance Max (PMax) and Search campaigns. Choosing the right one can make a significant difference in your marketing success. PMax campaigns use Google's machine learning to automatically optimize your ads across multiple channels, while Search campaigns allow you to target specific keywords and appear in relevant search results.

Each approach has its advantages and considerations. Below, we'll explore the key differences between PMax and Search campaigns to help you determine the best fit for your real estate business goals.

What Is The Difference Between PMax and Search Campaigns In Google Ads?

What Are PMax Google Ad Campaigns?

PMax, or Performance Max, campaigns are a new type of Google Ads campaign that uses machine learning to automatically optimize your ads across multiple channels. With PMax, you provide assets like headlines, descriptions, images, and videos, and Google's AI will create the most effective ad combinations to show on Google Search, Display, YouTube, Gmail, Maps, and more.

Instead of managing separate campaigns for each channel, PMax allows you to run a single campaign that reaches potential customers wherever they are online. The AI continuously learns and adjusts your targeting and ad delivery to drive more conversions for your specific goals.

What Are Google Search Campaigns?

Google Search campaigns are the traditional type of Google Ads campaign where you target specific keywords related to your products or services. When someone searches for one of your targeted keywords on Google, your text-based ad can appear in the search results.

With Search campaigns, you have more control over targeting by selecting keyword match types, negative keywords, location targeting, and other settings. You bid on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis and only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Search campaigns are ideal for capturing high-intent traffic from users actively searching for what you offer.

What’s the Difference?

Some key differences include PMax's automated cross-channel approach versus Search campaigns' manual, search-focused tactics. PMax utilizes AI for audience targeting and bidding, while Search allows granular control over keywords and bids. Reporting capabilities also differ, with PMax being more limited compared to Search campaigns.

Take a look at this table that highlights the key differences between PMax and Google Search Campaigns.

Performance Max (PMax)

Google Search Campaigns

Campaign Type

Automated, cross-channel

Manual, single channel (Search)


Automated audience targeting

Keyword targeting with match types

Ad Assets

Multiple asset types (text, images, videos)

Text ads only


Automated smart bidding across channels

Manual bidding strategies (CPC, CPM, etc.)


Limited reporting on search terms, placements

Detailed reporting on keywords, search terms

Negative Targeting

Account-level negative keywords only

Campaign/ad group level negative keywords

Landing Pages

Automated landing page selection or expansion

Manual landing page selection


Optimized for defined conversion goals

Optimized for clicks or conversions

How Can Real Estate Investors Benefit From Utilizing PMax Or Search Campaigns?

Real estate investors can benefit from utilizing PMax or Search campaigns in several ways.

Reach Motivated Buyers and Sellers

With PMax campaigns, you can reach potential buyers and sellers across multiple channels, including Google Search, Display, YouTube, and more. Search campaigns allow you to target specific keywords related to buying or selling properties.

Promote Listings and Services

Both PMax and Search campaigns enable you to promote your real estate listings and services to a targeted audience. PMax uses visuals like images and videos, while Search campaigns rely on text-based ads.

Drive Leads and Conversions

By optimizing your campaigns for specific conversion goals, such as lead generation or property inquiries, you can effectively drive valuable leads and conversions for your real estate business.

Leverage Automation and Machine Learning

PMax campaigns leverage Google's machine learning capabilities to automate audience targeting, bidding, and ad delivery, potentially saving you time and effort compared to manual Search campaign management.

Gain Insights and Optimize Performance

Both campaign types provide reporting and insights that can help you understand your audience, optimize your campaigns, and make data-driven decisions to improve your real estate marketing efforts.

Which Type of Google Ads Campaign Is More Cost-Effective For Real Estate Businesses?

Traditional Google Search campaigns tend to be more cost-effective than Performance Max (PMax) campaigns. Here are five key reasons why:

  • Higher Intent Traffic: Search campaigns allow you to target specific keywords related to buying or selling properties, capturing users with higher intent and reducing wasted ad spend.
  • Better Conversion Tracking: Search campaigns provide more detailed conversion tracking and reporting, enabling you to optimize campaigns for better cost-per-conversion.
  • Granular Targeting Controls: You have greater control over targeting with search campaigns, using negative keywords, location targeting, and other settings to refine your audience.
  • Lower Cost-Per-Click: Search ads generally have a lower cost-per-click compared to PMax ads, which can appear across multiple channels.
  • Proven Performance: Search campaigns are a tried-and-true method for driving cost-effective leads and conversions in the real estate industry.

However, PMax campaigns can be more cost-effective in certain situations. If you have a larger advertising budget and are focused on building brand awareness or reaching potential customers across multiple touchpoints, the automated targeting and cross-channel approach of PMax may be more suitable.

If you have high-quality visual assets like videos and images, PMax can leverage these to drive more engaging and cost-effective campaigns across channels like YouTube and Display.

Ultimately, the most cost-effective option depends on your specific business goals, budget, and target audience. For many real estate businesses focused on driving cost-effective leads and conversions, search campaigns may be the more prudent choice.

How Can Real Estate Investors Measure the Success of Their Google Ads Campaigns?

Real estate investors can measure the success of their Google Ads campaigns in several ways:

Track Conversions and Leads

One of the most important metrics is tracking conversions and leads generated from your campaigns. Set up conversion tracking to monitor form submissions, phone calls, or other valuable actions taken by potential clients.

Monitor Cost-Per-Conversion

Analyze the cost-per-conversion for your campaigns to understand the return on investment (ROI) and determine if your ad spend is justified by the leads or sales generated.

Evaluate Website Traffic and Engagement

Monitor website traffic and engagement metrics, such as bounce rate and time on site, to gauge the quality of the traffic driven by your ads and identify areas for improvement.

Conduct A/B Testing

Regularly conduct A/B testing by creating different ad variations and comparing their performance. This can help you optimize your ad copy, targeting, and bidding strategies for better results.

Are There Tips for Optimizing PMax or Search Campaigns for Real Estate Investments?

By fine-tuning your campaigns, you can ensure that your advertising budget is being spent effectively and that you're reaching the right audience with the right message. Here are some tips to help you optimize your campaigns for better performance:

  • Conduct thorough keyword research and target high-intent, location-specific keywords for your Search campaigns.
  • Utilize negative keywords to exclude irrelevant searches and improve the quality of your traffic.
  • Create compelling ad copy that highlights your unique selling points and calls to action.
  • Leverage high-quality visuals, such as property images and videos, in your PMax campaigns to capture attention and drive engagement.
  • Continuously monitor and analyze your campaign performance, making data-driven adjustments to your targeting, bidding, and ad creative.

You can improve the effectiveness of your Google Ads campaigns, attract more qualified leads, and ultimately drive better returns on your real estate investments.

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