Enhanced CPC in AdWords: Conversion Optimizer’s Third Cousin

So Enhanced CPC, huh? I’ve read a lot of opinions about this feature. Google wants me to believe it’s amazing and can boost my leads WHILE reducing my overall CPC. Random interneters claim that Google wants me to give them all my moneys and they’re trying to squeeze every last penny they can out of an ad auction with Enhanced CPC. A lot of people want me to see it as Conversion Optimizer’s littler, milder brother.  But it’s not. I doubt they even grew up in the same state. They don’t have the same background, they don’t have the same goals. And they sure as heck won’t both be comfortable at the same parties. That is, if AdWords campaigns can be compared to parties. Work with me here people.

After reviewing its performance for our accounts, and reading others’ accounts of their experiences with it, as well as Google’s available literature, I think I’ve come to the exact same conclusion that I have with nearly every other AdWords “invention”: yep, this might work if you use it intelligently. Nearly every feature of AdWords will take your money and not give you enough in return, if you let it. That’s the game, though, and that’s why you’re reading this blog: because the goal is to use these features without getting used. As such, let’s talk about what we need to know about Enhanced CPC to start making some informed decisions.

Cost per who?

First and foremost: Conversion Optimizer uses the historical conversion data it has available for each ad auction to try to show your ad in auctions which will get you as many conversions as possible for your budget and your set CPA target.

Enhanced CPC doesn’t care what your CPA goals are. It’s going to use the historical conversion data it has for each ad auction to try to bid higher for auctions where doing so will likely increase your conversion rate, and bid lower for auctions where that is not the case.

Conversion data what?

One well-recognized truth about Conversion Optimizer is that the more, and more consistent, historical conversion data your campaign provides, the better this tool performs. That’s why AdWords won’t even allow you to turn it on until your campaign conversions reach a certain threshold.

Enhanced CPC? Though it uses conversion data to optimize (by increasing your bid by up to 30%, or down by any % depending on factors specific to each auction and your performance history), you can go ahead and turn it on at any point in your campaign’s history. And many people have, which has probably led to the negative results they’ve seen. I wouldn’t turn this feature on until I’d reached the same thresholds for which I’d feel comfortable using Conversion Optimizer.

Because what happens if you turn on Enhanced CPC in the absence of a strong conversion history? Well, it either just probably won’t work, or, as some people have seen, it might just reduce your traffic so substantially that it costs you significant leads rather than having neutral impact. Enhanced CPC is that it claims that some percentage of your traffic is held back from the Enhanced CPC “experiment” in order to cause less variation in your lead numbers if the experiment is not having a positive effect., but this particular principle doesn’t seem to work as well as it could for many advertisers.

Below is a quick PDF outline of who Enhanced CPC is, what it does, and tips on using it successfully!

Enhanced CPC in AdWords

*Note, Star Trek nerds who are tempted to be offended by the PDF: I watched The Next Generation, Voyager, and Deep Space Nine religiously for over ten years. I could destroy you in any game requiring me to identify characters by photo or voice. Please no calls. 🙂