March 24, 2021 by Jason Pittock | 8 min reading time

Are you on the fence, wavering back and forth between setting up an Enhanced Cost per Click (ECPC) campaign, or putting in the time to manage your own campaigns? There are plenty of pros and cons to both strategies. To make the best decision for your company, you need to understand how your decision will affect your ad budget, time constraints, and results. 

What Is Enhanced Cost per Click (ECPC)?

In short, ECPC (Enhanced Cost per Click) is an automated marketing program for Google Ads that encompasses various other programs like AdWords video, the Google Display Network, and more. Enhanced CPC in Google Ads is the “go-to” program for some marketers. Others prefer to manage their Cost per Click CPC campaigns manually. 

What’s the attraction to enhanced CPC bidding? Honestly, there are three big reasons marketers like Enhanced Cost per Click:

  1. Google automatically manages your bids on your behalf. 
  2. Google set the algorithm to automatically adjust your bids for clicks that are the most likely to result in conversions. 
  3. The program aims to keep your average CPC under the maximum. 

We’ll dive in a little deeper to get a better understanding of how Enhanced Cost per Click works. Let’s say that Google Ads finds that you have an ad that’s performing well, but your bids are too low to give it the attention it needs to yield more conversions. In that case, Google will automatically increase your max CPC bid by up to 30% so you don’t lose out on clicks that would otherwise not convert. 

All you have to do is sit back and collect the profits, right? If you were wondering what the catch is, here it is. Google could potentially increase the cost of your ads enough that it wipes out your profits, and that could happen before you even realize it. 

On the flip side, the enhanced CPC platform also does you a big favor when your ads are underperforming. If that’s the case, the algorithm lowers your bids (even down to $0) so your money isn’t going down the drain. 

There’s no right or wrong way to manage ad campaigns. The choices you make depend on your business and your preference for how to manage your ad campaigns. At the end of the day, we all like having options, and a little flexibility always makes life easier. Next, let’s take a look at how marketers make the decision about whether to use enhanced CPC bidding or manage their campaigns manually.

What Is the Difference between Enhanced Cost per Click (ECPC) and Cost per Click (CPC)?

If you're one of those marketers that has a little trouble letting go of the reins and letting Google gallop along on its own, you're not alone. Some might say that to give Google total control over your campaigns when you’re paying them for your ads is perhaps a bit self-serving. Many marketers prefer to have control behind the scenes.  

Simply put, Cost per Click is the price you, as an advertiser, pay when someone clicks on one of your PPC marketing campaign ads. Enhanced Cost per Click (ECPC) is an ad campaign program that’s a bit similar, but it has a few more bells and whistles. 

ECPC uses a form of smart bidding. That means that it relies on various things to make a decision about the “smartest” bid amount. 

Things like these:

  • Market signals
  • Browser location
  • User demographics
  • Time of day
  • Ad buying history

In fact, Google wants you to have at least 15 conversions in a campaign so they have enough data to make decisions, so be sure that you have conversion tracking turned on. These are the minimum conversion threshold per unit you have to hit before you can launch a Smart Campaign:

  • 400 conversions per conversion type with a path length of more than 2 interactions
  • 10,000 paths in the selected reporting view

The more data they have, the more accurately they can bid on your behalf. In our experience, ECPC tends to work better for brands that have a big audience and an ad budget to match. 

Benefits of Enhanced Cost per Click

Is Enhanced Cost per Click More Cost-Efficient?

As many novice marketers quickly discover, your ad budget can get out of control pretty quickly. The best way to approach it is to think of it in the same way that you think about your own personal budget. It’s a lot easier to manage your money when you can plan for expenses consistently, and AdWords bidding can work for or against you. 

The problem you can run into when you don’t have good control over your ad budget is that you can easily overspend one month and not have funds to spend the following month. If you can’t advertise consistently, you won’t have consistent sales. That just makes it harder to plan for growth. 

When you opt for manual Google Ads bidding, you’re effectively putting yourself in the saddle. 

  • You control how much you spend every month
  • You can run various scenarios to predict your profit margin
  • Your costs are consistent and predictable
  • You can do your own testing to find the most profitable bid amount

ECPC might be cost-effective if your profit margin shows that ad costs aren’t encroaching too heavily on your profits. That’s something to look at before you get too excited about increasing revenue. 

Before you make a final decision to go with one or the other, we’ll explore a few other Google Ads bidding strategies to help you hash things out. 

What Other Google Ads Bidding Strategies Are There?

Enhanced Cost per Click and manual Cost per Click strategies are two of the more common PPC strategies, but there are others that might be worth considering depending on your revenue goals and the KPIs that steer optimization. 

To save you a bit of research, we’ve listed them here:

  • Target cost per acquisition-Finds the optimal cost per click bid for every auction. Your budget may go over or under what you set. 
  • Target return on ad spend-Automatically optimizes your bids at auction time. Helps you get more value out of your conversions.
  • Maximize conversions-Uses historical information about your campaign and evaluates signals to find the optimal bid and maximize conversions. 
  • Maximize clicks-:Leverages average daily budgets to maximize the number of clicks. 
  • Cost per Thousand Impressions-You are charged for every 1,000 views on the Google Display Network.
  • Viewable Cost per Thousand Impressions-Similar to cost per thousand impressions, but it doesn’t include non-viewable impressions. 
  • Cost per View bidding-This is the default way for setting costs for TrueView video ads in Google Ads. You pay for video views or interactions such as CTAs, cards, and companion banners. 
  • Target impressions share-Allows you more flexibility and granular controls to optimize impression share and search page location. 

It all comes down to what data you think you need to reach your overall goals. There’s no limit to the combinations of strategies you can use at any one time. Every campaign that you set up is an opportunity to learn more about which strategies are the most effective. 

Should You Go with Enhanced Cost per Click?

There’s no fast and easy answer to whether ECPC is your best tool. No doubt, Google will find customers that like your ads when you use enhanced CPC. What the platform can’t do is segment your audience. You know your audience best, and that means you know which placements are likely to get traction. Google’s algorithms just aren’t that good. 

The most successful marketers know how to segment their target audiences and tailor messages directly to those segments to get the best possible results. From our standpoint, too many marketers put blind faith in automatic bidding mechanisms and end up with lackluster results.  

That’s not to say that you should discount ECPC altogether. There may be times or circumstances where it’s the best tool for the purpose. If it works out better for you to monitor your ads on a weekly basis, that’s one of those circumstances where it might be a good option for you as opposed to checking your ads every day. What we’re trying to say here is, ECPC might work for you, especially if it’s part of your broader marketing plan. 

Ultimately, you need to weigh the risks against the rewards and be sure that you’re ROAS justifies your investment. 

To wrap things up, we’ll leave you with a few things to think about:

  • Figure out how much of your ad budget you have to spare.
  • ECPC is a possibility if you have a history of using Google Ads.
  • Will it be too time-consuming to manage your ads daily?
  • Are you more concerned with reaching a specific segment or where your ads are placed?
  • Are you considering a time-limited ad campaign, or is it part of your broader marketing strategy?

That list might inspire some new questions of your own. This overview should give you enough information to help you make informed choices about the PPC strategies to put in your wheelhouse. To be honest, most marketers find that manual bidding is the most preferred option. But again, it’s always nice to have options. 

Jason is a passionate data-driven specialist with extensive PPC & SEO experience. When not writing about SEM he can be found surfboarding the wildest ocean waves of the Argentinian coast.