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About enhanced CPC (ECPC)

Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC) is a bid strategy that automatically adjusts your manual bids for clicks that seem more likely to lead to a sale or conversion on your website. Unlike Target CPA, which targets the cost per conversion, ECPC uses your max CPC bid to target conversions. Compared with Target CPA, ECPC is constrained by your manual bids, but can still help you optimize for conversion. In this article, we’ll explain how ECPC works and how it can help you get more value for your ad budget.

Before you begin

To use Enhanced CPC, you’ll need to have conversion tracking enabled. Learn how to Set up conversion tracking.

If you’d like to learn about ECPC for Shopping, read how to Set up ECPC for Shopping campaigns.

How it works

ECPC looks for ad auctions that are more likely to lead to sales, and then raises your max CPC bid up to 30% (after applying any bid adjustments you've set) to compete harder for those clicks. If a click seems less likely to convert, AdWords will lower your bid by as much as 100%.

Example

Suppose you sell shoes on your site, and you've set your max CPC for US$1, and you have ECPC bidding turned on. If the AdWords system sees an auction that looks likely to lead someone to buy shoes on your site, it might set your bid as high as US$1.30 for that auction (that is, your US$1 max CPC bid plus 30 percent more).

ECPC double-checks itself by leaving part of your traffic alone to work with your regular max CPC bids. Then it compares the two sets of results and adjusts accordingly. So when you choose ECPC, you should see conversion results that are better than, or at least the same as, the results you get without it.

ECPC is a form of AdWords Smart Bidding that uses a wide range of auction-time signals such as device, browser, location, and time of day to tailor bids to someone’s unique context, but not to the full extent of other Smart Bidding strategies, such as Target CPA and Target ROAS.

ECPC for text ads is available on the Search Network and the Display Network, except in Display campaigns that promote mobile app downloads. For Shopping ads, ECPC works only on Google Search.

ECPC is available as an optional feature with Manual CPC bidding or as a portfolio bid strategy.

Tip: Save time managing your bids with a portfolio ECPC bid strategy

You’ll be able to apply ECPC bid optimization more strategically to entire campaigns or specific ad groups of your choice. Learn about portfolio bid strategies

How conversion tracking works with ECPC

The AdWords system looks for patterns of clicks and conversions and compares them to your past results. If certain search or keyword combinations lead to more sales, for instance, it will know. That's why you need conversion tracking turned on to use ECPC -- it’s where the data comes from.

ECPC will increase your max CPC bid by up to 30% (after applying any bid adjustments you've set) when it sees a good opportunity. It'll also lower your max CPC by any amount (even more than 30 percent) if it determines a conversion isn't likely, so you'll pay less for clicks that convert less.

Make sure to review your conversion counting method for each conversion action to ensure it matches your goals. If you're tracking leads (such as sign-ups), you probably only want to count one conversion per ad click. If you're tracking sales, you probably want to count every conversion.

Tip

Because ECPC will increase your max CPC bid by up to 30 percent when it sees a good opportunity, don't be surprised if your AdWords report shows average CPCs that are over your max CPC.

How ECPC is different from Target CPA bidding

Both ECPC and Target CPA bidding work to get you more conversions. The key difference is that ECPC will raise your max CPC bid by up to 30% (after applying any bid adjustments you've set). Target CPA is not constrained by your max CPC, though it does require you to set a target CPA.

Target CPA bidding gives you the very best chance to improve your results with the full power of AdWords Smart Bidding. However, ECPC provides a level of manual control that some people prefer.

Both ECPC and Target CPA bidding

  • Use conversion tracking or Google Analytics data from your account
  • Predict a conversion rate for each auction
  • Adjust your bids to help you win the most promising clicks

ECPC

  • Works with all your campaign settings and max CPC bids
  • Can raise bids by up to 30 percent
  • Works with third-party bidding systems, even if they're automating your bids

Target CPA bidding

  • Is based on a target CPA you set
  • Has full freedom to set your CPC bid for each auction to increase the chance of a conversion
  • Can be used with third-party bidding systems, but the same campaign cannot use Target CPA and another bidding solution simultaneously

How device bid adjustments work with ECPC

ECPC adjusts bids based on the likelihood of a conversion compared to other people on the same type of device. You can set a device bid adjustment to adjust your bids up or down based on the device your ad appears on.

We recommend setting a mobile bid adjustment that takes into account the differences in conversion rates between mobile and other devices, especially to incorporate any additional conversions that aren’t tracked using the AdWords conversion tracking tag (such as in-store visits). Learn more About bid adjustments.

Note that ECPC, like Target CPA and Target ROAS, will continue to set different bids for desktop traffic vs. tablet traffic based on differences in conversion rates.

How to enable ECPC

Your campaign must have conversion tracking enabled in order to use ECPC. Also, keep in mind that ECPC works slightly differently for Shopping campaigns. Learn more about how to Set up ECPC for Shopping campaigns.

Instructions

Choose the AdWords experience you're using. Learn more.

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account.
  2. From your Campaigns tab, click the name of the campaign you want to work with.
  3. Click the Settings tab.
  4. Find the "Bid strategy" section. Click Edit.
  5. Choose Manual CPC bidding from the drop-down, and check the Enable Enhanced CPC option.
    • When you choose ECPC, AdWords automatically sets your ad rotation setting to "optimize for conversions," even if it's currently set to "optimize for clicks."
  6. Select Apply.
 

Tip: Choose what conversions to bid for

The following conversion tracking settings let you customize how you bid for conversions:

  • The Include in "Conversions" setting lets you decide whether or not to include individual conversion actions in your "Conversions" reporting column. The data in this column is used by bid strategies like target CPA, target ROAS, and ECPC, so your bid strategy will only optimize based on the conversions that you've chosen to include. Learn more
  • The Include cross-device conversions setting lets you include cross-device conversions in your “Conversions” column and in your conversion-based bid strategies. Learn more
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