Google rolled out their new budget planner tool for Google Ads in April 2019. Since that time they’ve enhanced the tool and renamed it (as they love to do) to Google Ads performance planner.
The tool is now available to most advertisers and appears in the Tools menu under Planning.
Note: This article was updated on August 19th, 2021
What does the performance planner do?
Essentially, the performance planner projects clicks or conversions for one or more existing campaigns based on different ad spends. You can set a target and Google will return a recommended ad spend. Or, you can not set a target and Google will provide a graph that displays how different ad spends will affect click or conversion performance.
The performance planner offers additional functionality as well, such as one-click optimization of ad spend between campaigns to suit your goal. And you can add keywords to your plan to see how that would affect your goals.
The tool is really well designed, easy to use, and includes the essentials you need for forecasting.
The performance planner is not designed for net new campaign forecasting. You should continue to use the keyword planner for that.
Getting started with performance planner
To get started, select the campaigns, choose the forecast period, set the goal type (clicks or conversions). You can optionally set a target for your goal, CPA, target spend, or conversions.
Note that not all campaigns qualify for use with the budget planner. A campaign must use one of the approved bidding strategies and contain enough data history to be used with the tool.
I recommend selecting campaigns with similar goals for your business. For example, you may not want to rebalance a budget between campaigns that offer different services or have vastly different CPAs.
Google will instantly display your draft budget plan.
At the top, you’ll see everything you selected from the last step. You can easily change your forecast period, targets, or anything else on the fly.
Your plan displays a graph of expected performance. Below the graph, you’ll see your overall KPIs, and below that a breakdown of existing and forecast KPIs by campaign.
If you didn’t set any performance targets your forecast will be the same as your current performance. You can adjust the graph slider so you can play “what-if” scenarios with different ad spend, target CPA, or conversions. You can also change the graph to display either “most conversions for spend” or “lowest avg. CPA for spend.”
Alternatively, you can also change any of the variables above the graph just by typing.
In addition to the plan forecast graph, you can select the compare tab to see a breakdown of your past performance (same as the forecast period last year), existing settings (if you don’t make any changes), and planned settings (your forecast with the proposed changes).
Even if you don’t want to adjust your total ad spend, the forecasting tool can automatically optimize budgets between the selected campaigns with a click. This function addresses campaigns with limited budgets and will place more budget where you can get better performance.
Digging deeper with performance planner
Before we dig into advanced campaign settings, it’s worth noting that performance planner does address seasonality based on your business type and location. It’s also important to understand that forecasts are based on recent campaign performance as well as auction data.
Clicking on a campaign will bring up the campaign editor window. Here you can manually adjust the spend or forecast conversion rate if you think you know something that Google doesn’t.
Once you’re happy with your plan you can download it as a summary or as an Ads editor file. If you’re just changing budgets, which is what I recommend, I wouldn’t bother downloading anything unless you have to show your homework to other stakeholders.
Google automatically saves all your forecasts so there is no need to have them in a spreadsheet. I’d just create a reminder for yourself to implement the new budgets once the new forecast period rolls around.