Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) bidding

  • Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) bidding is a bidding method that lets you tell AdWords the amount you're willing to pay for a conversion.
  • CPA bidding can help you reach customers who are likely to take action on your website.
  • It's part of Conversion Optimizer.

CPA bidding focuses on maximizing conversions, rather than clicks. You still pay per click, but AdWords automatically sets your bids to help you get more conversions.

How it works

You can use CPA bidding by setting up conversion tracking and turning on Conversion Optimizer for your campaign. When setting up Conversion Optimizer, you set a target CPA. This is the average amount you'd like to pay for a conversion. Some conversions will be above this target and some will be below it, but altogether, the cost per conversion should be about average to the target CPA you set.

Determining your target CPA

When you set up Conversion Optimizer, we provide a recommended target CPA, which is calculated to help ensure a smooth transition to your new bid strategy. The recommended target CPA, is based on your historical performance, so it’s best to start with the recommended target CPA, then observe your performance and adjust as necessary. If you set your target CPA to the recommended amount, you should see more conversions without much change to your existing average CPA.

Use the Target CPA simulator to estimate how changes to your target CPA might affect your conversion volume.

The final amount you're charged

Your actual CPA may be above or below your target CPA. This is because:

  • Your actual CPA depends on factors outside Google's control, like changes to your website or ads or increased competition in ad auctions.
  • Your actual conversion rate can be lower than the predicted conversion rate.

How to edit your target CPA

Though you provide your first target CPA when you turn on Conversion Optimizer for your campaign, you can go back and change the target at any time afterward by following the steps below.

Edit your target CPA for a single ad group

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account.
  2. Click the Campaigns tab.
  3. Click the Ad groups tab.
  4. Find the ad group that contains the target CPA you want to edit.  As you place your cursor over the rows, a pencil icon appears. Click the target CPA to edit it.
  5. Enter the amount you'd like to use for your target CPA.
  6. Select Save to finish.

Try it now

Edit your target CPA for multiple ad groups

  1. On the "Ad groups" tab, select the checkbox next to the "Ad group" column. This should select all the checkboxes for every ad group.
  2. Click the Edit menu.
  3. Select Change bids.
  4. Select the Target CPA field from the menu and enter the target CPA you'd like to use for all the selected ad groups.
  5. Click Make changes to save.

Try it now

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 advanced 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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A Bid For Every Auction

Get Google's guide to automated, auction-time bidding in AdWords. Learn how to pick a strategy, how to test it, and how to optimize your bidding once it's enabled. View the guide now.