Buying Ads On A CPC Basis

When should I be buying ads on a CPC basis?

The simple answer is: when you are getting started.

If your goal is to drive more traffic to your site, then a CPC campaign will do just that.

When first dabbling in online advertising, most ad platforms you come across will run at a CPC rate. It makes sense to start this way, as it will help you to work out how much people want to click on your ads, and whether you are targeting the right placements/keywords.



How do I manage a CPC deal?

Simple ad platforms such as Google Ads won’t force you to set a CPC price, so don’t – just set your budget per day/week/month and let the ad platform optimise for you.

This is how you can work out your baseline results and see how much bang you can actually get for your buck. You may think that setting a maximum CPC or trying to reduce your CPC will necessarily improve the deal for you, but that’s not necessarily true.

Like almost everything on the internet, clicks on online ads follow the 1% rule in which 1% of people do 99% of the clicking. This 1 % of people will click on anything and tend to be middle-aged women who do lots of online shopping, gaming and gambling. So when you reduce your CPC, you are just increasing your chance of getting a worse click – from one of the 1%ers who don’t care what they are clicking on.

Higher cost clicks generally have more value to you – a user who is more engaged with what you are selling. This is one of the many reasons why CPC campaigns, although intuitively great, are paradoxically annoying as the fewer clicks you get from your budget the better it is in a lot of ways.

Similarly, a higher CTR means your ad is being shown less, and therefore being given fewer chances at getting the really good clicks. Of course, a low CTR means that users aren’t interested in your ad, so is not really desirable either.


CPC Formula

The CPC equation is:

CPC Formula or Cost Per Click EquationClick to enlarge

CPC = Cost ÷ Clicks


Technical Information

A good thing to keep in mind is that at some point, a CPC campaign will no longer be your best return on investment. That point is when you can buy ads at a better eCPM. To work out what this point is, use the following:


When To Switch From CPC To CPM equation


What CPC price should I pay?

The CPC price you should pay is the one at which the traffic you are getting is sufficiently high quality.

If you are using Google Ads, for example, you will want your CPC to be getting you a good Ad Rank, as that implies that your ad is working well.

If your ad platform doesn’t tell you such things, you can check your analytics platform for non-organic traffic (working this out will vary from platform to platform) and compare it to your organic traffic.

If the non-organic traffic is performing equally or better than your organic traffic on metrics such as bounce rate, pages per session and session duration then you are doing well.

The actual amount you should pay varies hugely from industry to industry, so it will have to be something you work out for yourself. In almost all cases a higher CPC will lead to better traffic, but there is, of course, an upper limit to this!


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