About Target CPA bidding

Note: Starting in 2021, you’ll see optional target fields for new Maximise conversions or Maximize conversion value bid strategies. With an optional target, Smart Bidding will optimise to these goals the same way it would for Target CPA and Target ROAS. Maximise conversions with a set target CPA will behave like a Target CPA strategy does today, and similarly, Maximise conversion value with a set target ROAS will behave like a Target ROAS strategy does today.

You can read more about Changes to how Smart Bidding strategies are organised.

Target CPA bidding is a Smart Bidding strategy that sets bids for you to get as many conversions (customer actions) as possible. When you create the Target CPA (target cost per action) bid strategy, you set an average cost that you'd like to pay for each conversion. When a customer does a Google search that fits your product or service, Google Ads uses your target CPA to set a bid based on the auction's likelihood to convert.

Note: For App campaigns, target CPA is the same value whether the conversion is for installing the app (cost per install) or for using the app (cost per in-app action).

Target CPA is available as either a standard strategy in a single campaign or as a portfolio strategy across multiple campaigns. This article explains how Target CPA bidding works and what its settings are.

Before you begin

How it works

Target CPA bidding automatically finds an optimal bid for your ad each time it's eligible to appear by using historical information about your campaign and evaluating the contextual signals that are present at auction time.

Some conversions may cost more than your target and some may cost less, but altogether Google Ads will try to keep your cost per conversion equal to the target CPA that you set. These changes in CPA take place because your actual CPA depends on factors outside Google's control, such as 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, Google Ads will automatically set your bids to try to get you as many conversions at £10 on average. To help improve your performance in every ad auction, this strategy adjusts bids using real-time signals like device, browser, location, time of day, remarketing list and more.

Create a target CPA bid strategy

You can create a target CPA bid strategy for a single campaign (standard strategy) or multiple campaigns (portfolio bid strategy):

  • Create with a new campaign
  • Create or change from campaign settings
  • Create from the Shared library 'Bid strategies'

You can create an automated bid strategy for a single campaign (standard strategy) or multiple campaigns (portfolio bid strategy).

Settings

Target CPA (or cost per install/cost per in-app action for App campaigns)

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

If your campaign has historical conversion data, Google Ads will recommend a target CPA. This recommendation is calculated based on your actual CPA performance over the last few weeks. The calculation also accounts for traffic so average targets may vary slightly based on the traffic in the places where your ads show.

When formulating a recommended target CPA, 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 interaction (conversion delay). You can choose whether to use this recommended target CPA or to set your own.

Tip: Choose which conversions to bid for

The Include in 'Conversions' setting lets you decide whether or not to include individual conversion actions in your 'Conversions' and 'Conversion value' reporting columns. The data in these columns are used by bid strategies like Target CPA, Target ROAS and ECPC, so your bid strategy will only optimise based on the conversions that you've chosen to include. Learn more about the 'Include in "Conversions"' setting

Cross-device conversions from Display Network, Video, Search and Shopping campaigns are included by default.

Average target CPA

Your average target CPA is the traffic-weighted average CPA that your bid strategy optimised for. It includes the average of your device bid adjustments, ad group target CPAs and any changes that you’ve made to your target CPA over time. Because of these variables, your average target CPA may be different from the target CPA that you set. When evaluating bid strategy performance, you should compare your CPA achieved with the strategy’s average target CPA because the average target CPA more accurately reflects what Smart Bidding is optimising towards.

Bid limits

Setting bid limits for your Target CPA bid strategy isn’t recommended, because it can restrict Google Ads’ automatic optimisation of your bid. It can also prevent Google Ads 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 CPC bid that you want Google Ads to set when using target CPA bidding.
  • Min. bid limit: The minimum CPC bid that you want Google Ads to set when using target CPA bidding. Note that the Google Ads 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.

Device bid adjustments

Device bid adjustments for Target CPA allow you to prioritise conversions by device. You can set adjustments for desktop, tablet and mobile.

Unlike bid adjustments for manual CPC, your bid adjustments for Target CPA modify the value of your CPA target, rather than the bids themselves. For the best performance, you may want to remove your manual CPC bid adjustments when switching to Target CPA.

If your target CPA is £10, setting a bid adjustment of +40% for mobile will increase your target CPA to £14 on mobile devices. To prevent your ads from showing on any mobile devices, you can set a mobile bid adjustment of -100%.

Note: Non-device bid adjustments are ignored on the Search and Display Network.

Pay for conversions (Display network only)

You can choose to pay for conversions, instead of clicks on Smart display campaigns that use Target CPA bidding. When setting up your campaign, go to the “Bidding” section. Look for the header labeled “Pay for” and select Conversions from the dropdown menu. Learn more about paying for conversions

Where you’ll see these metrics

The average target CPA metric lets you measure the CPA that your bid strategy targeted for specific time periods. By changing the date range, you can see what your strategy actually optimised for over that period. Bear in mind that you won’t have an average target CPA for time periods without traffic.

You’ll find the average target CPA metric in the performance table at the top of your 'Campaigns' page, so that you can evaluate actual performance against target performance. Select 'Avg. target CPA', 'Avg. target cost per install' or 'Avg. target cost per in-app action' from the 'Performance' category when adding a new column, or by adding it to the performance chart.

You can also find this metric in your bid strategy report beside your 'Actual CPA', which represents the actual CPA that this strategy was able to achieve. Learn how to find your bid strategy reports

Average target CPA is available for both standard and portfolio bid strategies.

Note: To view the average target cost per install and the average target cost per in-app action metrics, select a date range from 5 June 2020 and beyond. The setting is applicable only for App campaigns.
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