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What Happens if You Run Two Identical Campaigns with Different Bid Strategies?

Today, I’m going to be answering a question that came into my Google Ads Strategy Facebook group and I just couldn’t resist an opportunity to answer this and comment on the question.

Sydney asked, “If an account has almost 100 conversions a month, do you think starting a campaign on max conversions could work? What about having two identical campaigns running – one with max conversions and one with CPC? I know you’re not supposed to do that, but it sounds so tempting.”

Okay, a couple of great questions in there, so let me start with her last comment. “I know you’re not supposed to do that, meaning running identical campaigns, with two different bidding strategies.”

Yeah, I can confirm you’re not supposed to do that. Google has gotten very upset with us for actually doing that. A couple of reps that we’ve worked with really wanted to discourage us from doing that. We were running campaigns identical except one of them was using CPC bidding and the other one was using target CPA bidding. They really didn’t want us to do that, even though, overall, the results from doing that were positive.

So that brings me to my main answer here – having two identical campaigns running with those bidding strategies has produced very good results for us.

Sydney asked about using max conversions, so let me just get rid of that part of the question. I hate max conversions. I don’t think it’s a good bidding strategy and I don’t think it gives you enough control over what you’re paying for conversions.

When we’re bidding for conversions, max conversions is not my recommendation. Instead, the recommendation is to use target cost per conversion – target CPA bidding.

So in this scenario, we assume that there’s already a campaign running with cost per click and Sydney is telling us that there are almost 100 conversions a month with that campaign, or maybe it’s multiple campaigns in the account.

To run this campaign, we could set up an identical campaign using target CPA bidding.

The bid amount there should be a little bit less than what was being paid in the cost per click campaign.

We want to use the target CPA bidding to try to force the actual cost per conversion down a little bit. We’re going to keep running the cost-per-click campaign and now we’re going to run an identical campaign using target CPA. Now, Google is going to help us generate conversions not just clicks.

We found this strategy to work very well. What usually ends up happening is the target CPA campaign is working so well so we start to decrease the bids in the CPC campaign. And, at some point, the CPA campaign kind of takes over.  It doesn’t happen overnight, it can take a few months, sometimes it never happens, and sometimes we keep running both campaigns.

We have this happening now, and several of our accounts that we’re running, We have a CPC campaign and CPA campaign. Usually, over time, the CPA campaign does spend more of the budget. But just kind of depending on the overall results, we might leave both of those running or we might turn off the CPC campaign altogether. In rare instances, the CPA campaign has not outperformed the CPC campaign to the point where we haven’t turned off the CPA campaign, but just due to the differences in results, a low portion of the budget goes to the CPA campaign. Most of the ad spend still goes through the CPC campaign.

You know, that’s probably why we don’t just completely switch over to CPA. We haven’t found that to be 100% reliable and there are still instances where CPC campaigns are getting better results.

I know that was a lot of CPCs is and CPAs, so hopefully you’re still with me and hopefully, that makes sense.

Now, in terms of an account having almost 100 conversions a month, we have not found that to be necessary. In fact, we are starting with the CPA campaigns very early, like within a couple of weeks of launching. So, the basic approach is to launch a CPC campaign and then start with the initial optimizations.

Keep a close eye on the search terms, watch out for or negative keywords that may be worth found in the pre-launch research, get that kind of stuff added right away, make sure the tracking is working well, figure out what type of conversion rate to expect what and what we might be paying per conversion, and at least get a handful of conversions. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Like five to 10 conversions in a CPC campaign is enough to then start a secondary CPA campaign.

Google’s AI is really smart right now, they don’t just need to worry about the results in your campaign. That’s a little secret. They have enough results from other similar campaigns. Even if you were to start a campaign just with CPA bidding, it would still do okay.

This is actually the approach we take with YouTube Ads campaigns. We start those at CPA bidding instead of the alternative of CPV – those work differently when we’re talking about search campaigns. So that’s why we’re still starting search campaigns with cost per click bidding before we start testing and transitioning into CPA. But, you don’t have to wait for 100 conversions a month. Google can do its job with far fewer than that.

Of course, the more conversions, the merrier and it will help if you’re running campaigns with more conversions, but it’s not necessarily a requirement.

So that is my two cents on that topic!