In previous years Target CPA had a negative reputation amongst digital marketers. It wasn’t consistent and many thought it wasn’t worth using in some campaigns.

However, Google has decided to change Target CPA and instead introduce Target CPA bidding, which pairs machine learning and AI to deliver insights and results for your marketing campaigns. This has got many digital marketers excited about the potential.

What Is Target CPA?

Target CPA is a part of Google Ads Smart Bidding strategies. It uses machine learning to optimise marketing campaigns and ensure conversions in every auction. 

Using Target CPA helps its users out and can be seen as the ‘easy’ option. It does a lot of the heavy lifting for its users as it sets bids based on their target cost. 

How Does It Work?

Google uses machine learning to set the right bid for your auctions. It is the most time-efficient way of managing bids as it frees up your time to be used elsewhere. 

You don’t need any conversion history to get your Target CPA started. So there is no reason you shouldn’t be using it on a brand new campaign, this makes it incredibly useful to startups or businesses operating in smaller less-competitive industries. 

The bidding algorithm uses conversion data from your account to learn and optimise your strategies. This means that it delivers results rapidly once a bid strategy has been set up.

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Pros and Cons of CPA Bidding Strategy

As with every bidding strategy, there are positives and negatives with Target CPA. Before you decide if you want to use it or not we suggest you consider these pros and cons.


  1. Efficient – Target CPA helps you save time.
  2. Keywords – Machine learning can help you decide what keywords and search terms may be more valuable to you. 
  3. Optimisation – Optimises bidding for when users are more likely to convert


  1. Lack of Manual Control – If you prefer to make informed adjustments then you may not enjoy Target CPA bidding
  2. Too Many Goals – If you give the machine too many goals it may struggle to achieve them around a target CPA
  3. Less Active Management – Less account management can lead to complacency
  4. Inconsistent Quality – The AI can target low-value keywords to hit targets

Target CPA simulator

How To Decide If Target CPA is Right For You?

It can be tricky to decide if Target CPA is right for your business and industry. It depends largely on your knowledge of Google Ads and how much time you have. Target CPA is better for less-experienced businesses but may not be for you if you are more “Google Ad-literate”. 

How Do You Want To Spend Your Time?

If you believe that you are more capable of managing your bids than an AI then you should not use Target CPA. However, if you believe your time could be better spent trying to develop new marketing strategies or in planning how to implement those strategies then Target CPA could work for you.

Do You Like Experimenting With Your Ads? 

If you’re the sort of person who’s constantly going back and forth changing your keywords and ads throughout a campaign then Target CPA may not be for you. 

How To Improve Target CPA?

While Target CPA decides what it believes is the best for your campaigns and strategy it can often get bogged down and be less effective. To avoid this, and help the campaign be as successful as possible you should try to do the following things.

Don’t Over Complicate

When you do manual bidding you often end up with many individual specific campaigns for different audiences, types and demographics. This has been the practice for a long time.

Smart bidding has changed this. They prefer your campaigns to be broad and not over-structured. Target CPA works best with broad data to optimise against. 

If you are transferring to Target CPA from a pre-existing campaign it’s recommended that you try to put all of your targeting options into a single campaign.

You can still have specific campaigns for specific products to manage ROI, but Target CPA removes the need to over-engineer your campaigns’ structure as the algorithm is now smart enough to understand data signals. 

High Budgets Work Best

The best way to make the most of your campaign is to give Target CPA a high budget to work with. If your campaign budget is too low you are stopping the algorithm from working effectively and you probably won’t have your objectives met. 

If this does happen you’ll see a ‘Limited by Budget’ message on your campaign tab.

Whenever your campaign is consistently showing this message then you should consider another smart bidding strategy, such as Maximise Conversions.

Give The Machine Time

When setting up a new bid strategy you should expect a learning period of a few weeks. This gives the machine time to understand how to implement a successful strategy to achieve your goals. 

Be cautious not to jump to any conclusions about the performance of your bid strategy until a few weeks. Making changes to your campaign based on the first few weeks can damage your campaign. 

Over time the machine will become more stable with the more data it has available to it. This will allow it to predict better and improve its optimisation for conversions.

Impression Share Will Drop

Your Impression Share will drop when you adopt Target CPA bidding. Impression Share is the percentage of times your ad showed vs the per cent that it could of.

You shouldn’t be worried about this drop in the analytics as it shows that the algorithm is actively filtering out auctions where there is little intent to convert.

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Need Help With Target CPA?

Target CPA is improving. It is making it easier to manage an account and Google AI is becoming increasingly capable. However, most business owners still struggle with digital marketing and Target CPA.

To make the most of your marketing budget you should hire a digital marketing consultant who can help you optimise your campaigns and ensure they work.

Need a Good Google Ads Consultant?

Claire Jarrett is a Google Ads consultant who has been helping businesses prosper by using Google Ads for years. She was the first person in Europe to launch Google Ads training back in 2008 and has helped thousands of businesses.

If you’re interested in hiring Claire to help your business then you should contact her.