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Keeping Up With Google: What Is eCPC?

Steve Costanza

Enhanced CPC, or eCPC, is Google’s first automated bidding tool and one of its most popular. Despite its relative old age in the Google universe, retailers still have a number of questions about what this tool actually does and what sort of impact it can have on their Google Shopping and paid search campaigns.

In this installment of the Keeping Up With Google–a series that helps you stay up-to-date on the latest changes shaking up Google Ads–we define eCPC and uncover how this tool can reshape your performance marketing strategy.

Release Date: Google launched Enhanced CPC (eCPC) in 2010 as its first automated bidding tool.

What It Does: eCPC is a bid adjustment tool that takes into account signals such as demographics, location, time of day, and browser to determine which individuals are most likely to convert on a retailer’s text or shopping ad. The tool will either increase or decrease the CPC bid at the moment of the auction, depending on the likelihood of conversion.

For Search and Display campaigns, eCPC helps increase conversions while trying to keep retailer’s cost-per-conversion the same as the retailer’s manual bids. For Shopping, eCPC helps increase conversions while trying to maintain the retailer’s same overall spend.

Retailers can implement this tool at the campaign, ad group, and keyword or product level for paid search and Google Shopping.

Google recommends turning off certain bid adjustments, like location or time of day, because eCPC is already taking these factors into account. It does not adjust bids for mobile devices, so retailers should implement mobile bid adjustments for the best results when using eCPC. Google does take into account desktop and tablet traffic and adjust bids in light of those trends.

Despite Google’s recommendation to remove certain bid adjustments, Sidecar has found that keeping bid adjustments in place is best when first testing eCPC so that a proper A/B test can take place.

Which Channels: eCPC is available on the Search Network and Display Network as well as Google Shopping.

What It Means for Your Business: eCPC offers potential sales gains for retailers, but there are also some concerns. For retailers who have a strong bid strategy and campaign structure in place, eCPC can be helpful. Google does not set the bid with this tool, rather it adjusts the existing bid based on various signals from the individual search. Therefore, retailers need to have an efficient bid that takes into account the goals that matter to you such as ROAS or profitability for eCPC to be effective.

Retailers also need enough conversion data for eCPC to work effectively. Google recommends having at least 100 conversions so that it has enough data to make bidding decisions.

The benefit of this tool is that Google uses auction-time bidding data that no other companies have access to. That extra layer of insight could make an impact when it comes to overall conversions and revenue growth. On the other hand, a significant increase in CPC, due to eCPC bid adjustments, could offset a retailer’s revenue gains.

Because Google provides no reporting on when Google applies eCPC or how much it adjusts bids, Sidecar recommends A/B testing it over a four-to-six week period to measure impact. Retailers should keep their normal bid adjustments on for an accurate A/B test. After the 30-day period, retailers can test removing some of these adjustments or changing bids to measure their respective impact.

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