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Target CPA


What is Target CPA?

Target CPA, or target Cost-Per-Acquisition, is an automated bid strategy in Google Ads. It sets bids to help get as many conversions as possible at the target cost-per-acquisition (CPA) you set. It uses advanced machine learning to automatically adjust bids in real-time, taking into account various signals, including historical information about your campaign, and other signals like device, location, time of day, browser, and more.

Some conversions may cost more or less than your target, but all together, Google’s algorithms will aim to keep your cost per conversion equal to the target CPA you set. As an example: if you choose a target CPA of $15, Google Ads will automatically set your bids to try and get you as many conversions possible for an average of $15.

Benefits of using Target CPA

More efficient use of budget: Maximizes the value of your budget, ensuring you pay only what you intend for conversions.
Saves time on campaign management: Reduces manual workload in bid management.

May improve conversion rates: Leveraging Google’s vast data and machine learning ensures more targeted and effective bidding.

More flexible than manual bidding: When using manual bidding, targets are set and not adaptable to varying conditions in the auction. With Target CPA, Google can automatically adjust bids in real-time based on a wide range of factors.

Best practices for using Target CPA

Set Realistic Target CPA Goals: Begin with a clear understanding of your baseline CPA using manual bidding strategies like Manual CPC or Enhanced CPC. This insight is crucial to set a realistic and achievable target CPA.

Patience During the Learning Phase: When you make significant changes to your campaign, such as budget adjustments or bidding strategy shifts, Google enters a learning phase. During this period (which typically lasts about 7-14 days), the algorithms adapt to the new parameters. Performance will fluctuate during this time, which is normal. It’s essential to allow this phase to complete without major interference for optimal campaign performance.

Adjust Campaign Structure for Precision: To enhance Google’s effectiveness in achieving your Target CPA, group keywords or products into campaigns that generate similar results (or similar target CPAs). One common example is to separate brand and non-brand campaigns, as these campaigns usually have very different CPCs, conversion rates, and CPA targets. If they were kept together, the resulting CPA target may be somewhere in the middle, and may over-optimize for brand keywords (typically lower CPA) and under-optimize for non-brand keywords (typically higher CPA). This separation helps to drive better results with more focused targeting.

Target CPA vs. other bid strategies on Google Ads

It’s helpful to also know the other options for automated bidding in Google Ads. Google offers several strategies, each designed for different campaign goals:

  • Maximize Clicks: Focuses on driving as many clicks as possible within a budget.
  • Maximize Conversions: Aims for the highest number of conversions within a set budget.
  • Target ROAS: Aims to achieve a specific return on ad spend.
  • Enhanced CPC (eCPC): Adjusts manual bids to help get more conversions.

Learn more about different bid strategies in Google Ads →

How to set up Target CPA in Google Ads

Setting up Target CPA is straightforward in Google Ads:

  1. Access your campaign settings, expand the “Bidding” section, and choose Target CPA from the list of strategies.
  2. For existing campaigns, Google suggests a recommended CPA value. For new campaigns, you set your desired CPA.
  3. For added control, utilize advanced options under “Tools & Settings” > “Bid strategies”. Here, you can set maximum and minimum bid limits, though it’s important to note that overly restrictive limits can hamper Google’s optimization algorithms.

Frequently asked questions

What should I set my Target CPA at?

Consider your historical conversion data, profit margins, and the lifetime value of a customer. It can also be helpful to test different Target CPAs by creating a Google experiment and setting different targets for each test campaign.

Can I use Target CPA for all types of campaigns?

Target CPA is ideal for campaigns with a clear conversion goal (e.g., sales, sign-ups). It’s less effective for brand awareness campaigns or campaigns with very low conversion volumes.

How long does it take to see results from Target CPA?

It typically takes a few weeks for the algorithm to learn and optimize effectively. Initial fluctuations in performance are common.

What happens if my Target CPA is set extremely low?

Setting an unrealistically low Target CPA can cause Google to optimize too much, creating poor results to base any meaningful decisions on.

Should I adjust my Target CPA over time?

Setting an unrealistically low Target CPA can cause Google to optimize too much, creating poor results to base any meaningful decisions on.

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