Cost-per-thousand-impressions bidding

Many advertisers hope viewers will click their ad -- but that's not always the main goal. Maybe you just want a lot of people to see your ad. In that case, bidding by cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM ) is a good way to go. With CPM bidding, you bid for your ad based on how often it appears on the Google Display Network. You set the max amount you want to pay for ads, whether they're clicked or not.

Why use CPM bidding

Some people prefer CPM bidding because they want to be able to set a maximum amount they'll pay for each impression, instead of for each click.

Others simply don't care about clicks for their ad campaign. Businesses that just want to get their name in front of more people, for instance, may care more about ad views than about clicks and visits to their website.

CPM bidding is currently available for the "Google Display Network - All features" and "Google Display Network - Remarketing" campaign types only.

Tip

If your main goal is online sales or visits to your website, then cost-per-click (CPC) bidding may be a better option for you.

A quick comparison of CPM and CPC bidding

We'll get into a few more details below, but here are some of the basics:

  CPM bidding CPC bidding
Consider using this if: You care more about your ads being viewed than about clicks generated You care more about clicks
Bid: Maximum amount you're willing to spend for 1000 impressions Maximum amount you're willing to spend for 1 click
Actual amount charged: No more than what’s needed to rank higher than the advertiser immediately below you No more than what’s needed to rank higher than the advertiser immediately below you

How CPM and CPC bids compete

Ads with different bid types can compete for the same Display Network placements.

To keep things fair, when CPC and CPM ads compete for the same Display Network placement, the two types of ads are compared apples-to-apples on how much they're effectively willing to pay for the impression. With a CPM ad, the max CPM bid represents how much the advertiser is willing to pay for each 1000 impressions; with a CPC ad, Google estimates how many clicks the ad might receive in 1000 impressions to get the comparison.

How to use CPM bidding

With CPM bidding, you set the highest amount you want to pay for each 1,000 ad impressions. We call this the maximum CPM bid, or just "max CPM." 

The higher your max CPM, the greater the chance that your ad will appear.  As always, the AdWords system will charge you only what is needed to place your ad above the next-highest ad.

Tip

CPM text ads can have a special edge: when they win a placement, they're sometimes given the entire ad space, rather than sharing the space with other text ads. That makes them more likely to be noticed.

For typical campaigns, a reasonable starting point for a CPM bid is somewhat higher than the CPC bid you'd use for CPC text ads with the same targeting.

You can set your max CPM bid in a couple of ways. Let's say you sell flowers, and you've set up an ad group with keywords like roses, daisies, and tulips.

  • Ad group CPMs: Set your max CPM at the ad group level, and you'll have the same CPM for all keywords and placements in that ad group. Let's say you choose an ad group CPM of US$1.20. If your ad shows on a site that's associated with roses or tulips, or appears on a blog about flowers, the max CPM is always US$1.20. This is the easiest way to manage your CPM bids.
  • Placement-level CPMs: You can set a CPM bid for each placement if you like. If you know a site gets great results for you, you can bid more for placement there.
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