KPI ExamplesCost Per Click (CPC)

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Cost per Click, commonly called CPC, is the monetary amount paid for each click on a digital advertisement. This metric gauges the financial efficiency of online ad campaigns.


Use CPC to allocate funds efficiently across campaigns and channels.

Trend Tracking

Monitor CPC for timely ad changes, campaign strategy, and bidding adjustments.

Client Reports

Feature CPC in client reports to provide a tangible metric that highlights campaign efficiency.


Identify which campaigns, keywords, or channels yield efficient clicks

A Deep Dive into Cost Metrics

Why Cost Per Click Is Important

Understanding the average Cost per Click is foundational for effectively managing a Google Ads account or other PPC campaign. The financial backbone of online advertising efforts, advertisers allocate specific amounts per click, making calculated investments to acquire potential customers. A clear understanding of CPC offers a precise measure of spend, adding layers of accountability and intentionality to advertising budgets.

In an auction model, the Cost per Click is rarely fixed. Instead, it varies based on search engine algorithms, campaign settings, and market competition. Quality scores–assigned by search engines based on multiple variables– also directly influence the CPC. 

With a thorough understanding of these factors, advertisers develop dynamic and effective bidding strategies that maximize Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and ROI.

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How CPC Relates To Other KPIs

Cost per Click has a direct and measurable relationship with Quality Score. A higher quality score leads to a reduced CPC and improved ad rank. Elements like ad copy quality, Click-through rate (CTR), and landing page relevance are vital in shaping this score and–by extension–the average CPC.

CPC also directly impacts the total cost of a Pay Per Click campaign, influencing ROI and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). A focused view on CPC, Conversion Rates, and Average Order Value (AOV), gives a more accurate picture of overall campaign success. After all, a low CPC is not inherently beneficial if Conversion Rates are low. Conversely, better Conversion Rates and ROI may justify a higher CPC. 

Finally, CPC provides a consistent measure across different ad platforms for calculating costs and identifying opportunities, providing critical insights into which platforms offer quality traffic at a reasonable cost.

Image Illustrating How KPIs Interact
Being able to clearly attribute performance to activity and measuring/reporting the right things are key. Paid campaigns are easier to report on when we focus on key numbers that directly impact performance: CPC, conversion rate, and the resulting CPA.
Matthew Taylor, Common Ground

How To Calculate Cost Per Click

Calculating CPC is a straightforward process but crucial for managing advertising budgets. The formula involves dividing the total cost an advertiser pays for clicks by the number of clicks received. This yields the average CPC, which is used for budgeting, forecasting, and manual CPC bidding. 

Cost Per Click Formula Example

Total Cost of Clicks
Number of Clicks

What Is a Good Average CPC?

A good average CPC aligns with industry standards while achieving or exceeding campaign objectives. This sweet spot allows for effective use of the budget without sacrificing visibility or engagement.

What Is a Bad Average CPC?

A bad average CPC usually stands at the opposite end of the spectrum: either too low to generate quality traffic or too high for the value of each click. It often indicates inefficiency in advertising spend.

How To Set CPC Benchmarks & Goals

Because average CPCs vary greatly based on the industry and target keywords, agencies typically look at historical keyword data instead of sticking to industry standards. Comparing past average CPCs to campaign performance helps set more personalized benchmarks, making them more actionable. Although several tools provide CPC estimates, there is no better data for forecasting than the actual cost from historical campaign data. 

When specific revenue targets are set, back-calculation is a valuable technique for setting max CPC goals. Advertisers set a maximum CPC bid that aligns with that target by breaking down the revenue objective into a per-click value. 

For example, if the target is to acquire 100 signups at a Cost Per Lead of $10, and the landing page conversion rate is 20%, the maximum CPC would come in at $2.00. Let’s follow the math:

Work backward from the goal, which is 100 sign-ups at a Cost Per Lead (CPL) of $10.

Total Budget: 100 signups * $10 CPL = $1,000

Clicks Needed: With the landing page conversion rate at 20%, to get 100 signups, 500 clicks are required.

Target CPC: Dividing the budget by the total clicks required. $1,000 / 500 clicks = $2

This way, advertisers pay a cost directly tied to their end goals. 

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Cost-Effective Traffic

Why CPC Matters to Clients

For clients, the appeal of Cost per Click lies in its direct correlation with budget allocation and overall campaign expenses. Simply put, it's all about the money. Unlike other metrics, the Cost per Click provides a quick, transparent window into how much each visitor costs. 

This isn't just a numbers game; it's about meaningful financial outcomes. The CPC directly influences the cost efficiency of lead acquisition and–by extension–the revenue generated by PPC campaigns. 

A lower CPC is often considered to be a more budget-friendly approach, stretching each dollar for maximum reach and potential revenue. However, a well-managed CPC campaign relies on more than just cheap clicks; it equates to higher-quality leads at a lower price point. This optimizes the investment made in the advertising effort, making each dollar work harder to contribute positively to the bottom line.

Why KPIs Matter to Clients
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Why CPC Matters to Agencies

Agencies have a vested interest in lowering CPC while maintaining or improving ad relevance and quality. This is not just about cost efficiency; it's about performance. Red flags should be waving if the average CPC is high, but the conversion rate, ad quality, or relevance is low. The goal is to achieve a good CPC that balances cost efficiency with high-quality ad text and landing pages.

Using keyword research and focusing on search terms with a high conversion potential is instrumental in getting the most bang for the advertising buck. Automated bidding strategies are another lever to pull for optimizing cost.

The key here isn't just to lower the CPC but to find that sweet spot where cost meets performance, giving clients the desired results without breaking the bank.

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Best Practices When Analyzing and Reporting on Cost Per Click

Understanding CPC from multiple angles is imperative for streamlining and reporting on advertising efforts. By dissecting CPC metrics, agencies fine-tune the approach and create a more cost-efficient ad strategy.


Historical CPC Evaluation

Studying CPC over various time frames helps make bid adjustments based on seasonal shifts, weekends, or other factors. Historical data is the agency's friend here, as it gives a blueprint for future planning.


Channel-Based CPC Insights

CPC varies across channels like social media platforms, search engines, and display networks. It's not just about comparing the CPC but understanding how each channel contributes to the overall ad campaign effectiveness.


Keyword-Focused CPC Optimization

New keywords may have different CPC pricing than existing ones that have built-in history and established quality scores. Analyzing CPC at the keyword level highlights opportunities to lower the Cost per Click.


User Segmentation and CPC

Break down user segments by geography, demographics, dayparting, and devices. Targeting a specific audience during certain hours may result in lower click costs, or the cost to reach potential customers on desktop computers may be significantly different than on mobile devices.


Visualize Cost Per Click Performance

Visualization tools bring CPC data to life, making it easier to spot trends and outliers that might be lost in a spreadsheet. Data visualization shows how click cost fluctuations correlate with other metrics changes, demonstrating the current status of CPC advertising efforts.


Align to Client Goals

If the objective is to increase brand awareness, a higher CPC might be justified if it results in high-quality clicks. Similarly, if the goal is lead generation at a lower cost, maintaining a lower CPC that aligns with high Conversion Rates would be more beneficial.

To show clients their ROI, track and report on the revenue and conversion data that are directly attributed to your PPC campaigns. This can include metrics like total sales, revenue generated, cost per acquisition (CPA), conversion rate, and return on ad spend (ROAS). By comparing these metrics to the amount spent on advertising, you show clients the actual impact of their investment in your PPC services.
Justin Hoffman, Web Solutions Firm
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Google Ads Dashboard Example

AgencyAnalytics provides a customizable Google Ads dashboard designed for efficiency and clarity. Say goodbye to the cumbersome process of manual reporting through spreadsheets and hello to automated reporting. In just minutes, agencies produce detailed Google Ads reports that are visually appealing and focus on key performance metrics such as Cost per Click, Click-through Rate, and ROI. The emphasis here is on customization and quick turnaround, allowing agencies to communicate complex data and results to clients quickly and easily.
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Helpful Tips

How To Improve Average CPC

Improving Cost per Click is key to achieving effective and profitable campaigns. Here are a few actionable tips to keep CPC in check while maximizing results.


Audit Keywords

Weed out underperforming phrases and add them to a negative keywords list. Focus on maintaining high keyword relevance to lower CPC.


Optimize Bid Strategies

Utilize bidding systems like enhanced CPC to adjust bids in real-time, aiming for ad placements likely to convert, making the ad spend more efficient and reducing manual cost control.


Boost Ad Quality

Optimize ad text for relevance and ensure landing pages are top-notch. A well-matched ad and landing page improves quality score and boosts conversions.

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