This article covers why CPC’s rise with tCPA and a novel strategy that can help you enter both “high value” and “low value” auctions even when your budget is maxed out.

This is a strategy to try after trying to implement a tCPA bid cap.


Maybe tCPA worked for a while with you.

Maybe it worked great.

But it seems like costs inevitably rise and cost-per-clicks balloon.

Why CPC’s Sky Rocket with tCPA and “Smart” Strategies

It’s my experience that Google starts to “segment” clickers.

You’ve got “high value” clickers and “low value” clickers. This is determined by their entire Google search history, account, spending habits and whatever else Google has on them.

Let’s say you were the first…

If you’re the first person to use tCPA, your auction looks like this:

You’re winning! These “High Value” customers are converting better. You’re getting a lower than average CPA.

But what happens when everyone focuses on “High Value” customers?

When the auction gets crowded for these “high value” customers, CPC’s skyrocket

When CPC’s get so high, the audience make up starts to look like this to Google:

Google doesn’t have confidence in these other searchers

In reality though, this is the math:

Google just doesn’t want to lose your trust 💔. They don’t go after these clicks.

Over time, Google is less and less able to meet your tCPA and your clicks cost more and more.

Conveniently, this drives up CPC’s, making the almighty Google more money.

Testing the sidecar strategy

Hybrid tCPA and target IS bidding.

Here’s the set up:

  • Campaign is using tCPA with CPC’s at $30
  • Create an indefinite campaign experiment with target IS at a much lower CPC, like $20. My recommendation is to start with sending 30% of the traffic to the target IS strategy.
    • Set your target IS to target the top of the page

That’s it.

I’ve found that these cheaper clicks convert at a rate close enough to the higher cost clicks that your CPA gets better.

Why not just use bid caps on tCPA?

Google may take away our ability to set bid caps in the future. In fact, I’m already seeing this in some accounts.

This strategy is better used after implementing a tCPA bid cap. Test that first.

The idea here is less about controlling CPC, more about entering less-competitive auctions.

If you are budget constrained

This is an awesome, awesome strategy for those who are budget constrained. You may find that Google has been focusing the wrong auctions. If that’s the case, your CPA will drop.

If you are not budget constrained

This strategy appears to work without any modification to the budget. It’s my experience that leaving too much “unspent daily budget” for tCPA can encourage Google to be more aggressive.

Try to find a sweet spot on your budget where you’re not capping out your budget, but also not leaving clicks on the table.

Where to take this next

Target IS is a proof-of-concept that will likely leave inefficiencies on the table.

Certain keywords might be slipping through that don’t convert as well.

Be a good PPC manager and keep on top of that shit with n gram scripts.

Synergy between tCPA and this strategy

It’s my experience that running these two campaigns side by side (as an experiment) can improve tCPA performance.

My theory is the tCPA algorithm learns from the cheaper conversions and is better able to optimize.

The result

  • Target the “low value” customers
  • Train tCPA to be fine with lower CPC’s
    • Less budget allocation to tCPA also seems to let the algorithm to be more “choosey” and get better CPA’s as well