How costs are calculated in Google Ads
- Google Ads gives you control over your advertising costs.
- There's no minimum amount that you have to spend (although your Ad Rank must be high enough for your ads to show). Instead, you set an average daily budget and choose how you'll spend your money.
Choosing a bidding strategy based on your goals
Every time someone searches on Google, Google Ads runs an auction to determine which ads will show on the search results page, their rank on the page and whether any ads will show at all. To place your ads in this auction, you first have to choose how you'd like to bid. Try choosing a bidding strategy based on your goals, like whether you want to focus on getting clicks, impressions or conversions.
|Focus on clicks on your ads.
This is known as a cost-per-click, or CPC bid. We recommend the CPC bidding method if you want to drive traffic to your website.
|Focus on viewable impressions, or the number of times that your ad shows in a viewable place.
This is known as a cost-per-thousand viewable impressions, or vCPM bid. We recommend the vCPM bidding method if you want to increase awareness of your brand. Note that vCPM bidding is available for Display Network campaigns only.
|Focus on conversions, or when people take a specific action on your website after clicking one of your ads.
This is known as a cost-per-acquisition, or CPA bid. We recommend the CPA bidding method for seasoned Google Ads advertisers who are interested in conversions, like purchases or signups.
The auction: How Google decides which ads to show and their order
These are the different bidding strategies that you can set. Read the section below to learn more about choosing a bidding strategy.
Choose a bidding strategy
Most people starting out in Google Ads use the basic CPC bidding strategy, which means that they accrue costs based on the number of clicks that they get on their ads.
If you use the CPC bidding strategy, the amount that you're charged per click depends in part on the maximum cost-per-click bid you set in your account, also called "max CPC" bid. This represents the highest amount that you're willing to pay for a click on your ad (unless you're setting bid adjustments, or using Enhanced CPC). In fact, the most that you’ll pay is what’s minimally required to hold your ad position and any ad formats shown with your ad (including any applicable service fees that may apply to Display Network campaigns). So you'll often pay less than your maximum bid. The actual amount that you pay is called your actual CPC.
Let's say that you've set a maximum CPC bid of £1 for your ads. The most that you'll pay when a customer clicks your ad is £1 (unless you're using automated bidding).
Control your costs
Now that you understand the basics of how costs work in Google Ads, let's look at the ways that you can control your costs:Set a daily budget to control how much you spend
Your daily budget is the amount that you're willing to spend each day, on average, for each ad campaign in your account. The size of your budget is entirely up to you and you can edit this amount whenever you like.
Remember that when you set your max CPC bid, the amount that you're charged for a click on your ad in a given auction could be less than your max. This means that the amount that you pay for a click on your ad – your actual CPC – is likely to vary from auction to auction. Even though your actual CPCs may vary, your daily budget puts a limit on how much you can accrue in click costs from day to day.
Google may allow up to 20% more clicks in a day than your daily budget specifies. We call this overdelivery. Over-delivery can help make up for days when traffic is slow and your ads don't get as much exposure. However, in a given billing period, you're never charged more than the average number of days in a month (30.4) times your daily budget.
If the budget for your ad campaign remains at £10 per day throughout an entire month, the maximum amount that you would be charged for that campaign for that month is £304 (£10 x 30.4 average days per month). Remember that because of overdelivery, your daily cost might be more or less than your £10 daily budget on days when traffic is higher or slow.
If you use the cost-per-click bidding strategy, you set a maximum CPC bid for your ads. You can always lower your bid amount, but if you do, it might cause your ads to show up in a lower position on the first page of search results, to move from above to below the search results or to be removed from the first page of search results. In general, a higher maximum CPC bid can allow your ad to show at a higher position on the page.
Put your bidding on autopilot with automated bidding. Set a daily budget, and Google Ads will help adjust your CPC bids to receive the most possible clicks within your budget.
Google uses a measurement called Quality Score as an estimate of how relevant your ads, keywords and landing page are to a person seeing your ad. Higher Quality Scores typically lead to lower costs and better ad positions.
How can you improve your Quality Score? Make sure that you choose high-quality keywords and create relevant ads. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Choose keywords that are terms or phrases that your customers would use to describe your products or services. High-quality, relevant keywords can help you reach the customer that you want, when you want.
- Create ads that are relevant to your keywords and what you're advertising. Relevant ads tend to earn more clicks, appear in a higher position and bring you the most success.
Let's say that your maximum CPC bid is £2. Meanwhile, your competitor has a maximum CPC bid of £3 but the quality of his ads are below average. Because of the higher quality of your ads, your ad could actually show in a higher spot on the page, even though your bid is lower.
Relevance: How ad quality affects your costs and performance
Your Google Ads account's billing 'Transaction history' page provides easy access to your billing information. View daily advertising costs, payment details and much more. Learn more about how to access your billing information.
Try using Keyword Planner, a free Google Ads tool, to help guide your decision on which bids and budgets to set. Keyword Planner shows you traffic estimates, like estimated clicks, to help you get an idea of how a keyword list might perform for a given bid and budget. Note that Keyword Planner gives you estimates for the Search Network only.
Still confused? Contact us to get help.