About Target CPA bidding

Target CPA is an automated bid strategy that sets bids to help get as many conversions as possible at the target cost-per-acquisition (CPA) you set. Target CPA is available as either a standard strategy or as a portfolio strategy. This article explains how Target CPA bidding works and what its settings are.

Before you begin

If you don’t yet know what type of automated bid strategy is right for you, read about automated bid strategies first.

Before you can set up a Target CPA bid strategy, your campaign will typically need to meet the following requirements:

  • You're already tracking conversion data in your AdWords account. You can do so by either setting up conversion tracking or cross-account conversion tracking (MCC accounts), or by importing your goals and transactions data from Google Analytics.
  • The ad group or campaign has received 15 conversions in the last 30 days. This conversion history enables the system to make accurate predictions about your future conversion rate. So, the more data we have, the more accurate we can be.
  • The ad group or campaign has received conversions at a similar rate for at least a few days.

How it works

Using historical information about your campaign, Target CPA bidding automatically finds an optimal CPC bid for your ad each time it's eligible to appear. AdWords sets these bids to achieve an average CPA equal to your target across all ad groups and campaigns using this strategy.

Some conversions may cost more than your target and some may cost less, but altogether AdWords will try to keep your cost per conversion equal to the target CPA you set. These changes in CPA take place because your actual CPA depends on factors outside Google's control, like changes to your website or ads or increased competition in ad auctions. Additionally, your actual conversion rate can be lower or higher than the predicted conversion rate. 

For example, if you choose a target CPA of $10, AdWords will automatically set your CPC bids to try to get you as many conversions at $10 on average. To help improve your performance in ad auctions, this strategy adjusts bids using real-time details like device, browser, location, and time of day. It also automatically adjusts bids based on whether or not someone is on one of your remarketing lists.

Keep in mind

Because “target CPA” optimizes your bids based on real-time data, your existing bid adjustments are not used. There is one exception: You can still set mobile bid adjustments of -100%. Note that you don’t need to remove bid adjustments—they just won’t be used.


Target CPA

This is the average amount you’d like to pay for a conversion. The target CPA you set may influence the number of conversions you get. Setting a target that is too low, for example, may cause you to forgo clicks that could result in conversions, resulting in fewer total conversions.

AdWords will recommend a target CPA after you’ve set up a new bid strategy and chosen which campaigns to apply it to. This recommendation is calculated based on your actual CPA performance over the last few weeks. We’ll exclude performance from the last few days to account for conversions that may take more than a day to complete following an ad click. You can choose whether to use this recommended target CPA or to set your own.

Bid limits

Setting bid limits for your Target CPA bid strategy isn’t recommended, because it can restrict AdWords’ automatic optimization of your bid. It can also prevent AdWords from adjusting your bids to the amount that best meets your target CPA. If you do set bid limits, they’ll be used in Search Network auctions only. Bid limits are only available for portfolio (not standard) Target CPA bid strategies.

  • Max. bid limit: The highest max. CPC bid that you want AdWords to set for any keywords, ad groups or campaigns using Target CPA bidding.
  • Min. bid limit: The minimum CPC bid that you want AdWords to set for any campaigns or ad groups using your Target CPA strategy. Note that the AdWords bidding algorithm might set a max. CPC bid that's below your minimum bid limit, generally due to smart pricing. This means that the bid limit that you set here isn't the absolute lowest bid that could be set.

Bidding for conversions vs. converted clicks

You can set Target CPA to focus on either conversions or converted clicks by choosing a conversion bid metric. If you don’t make a selection, Target CPA will focus on conversions. Learn more about the conversion bid metric setting and how to change it.

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

Was this article helpful?
Sign in to AdWords

Get account-specific help and tips by signing in with your AdWords account email address, or learn how to get started with AdWords.