Microsoft Ads to replace Manual CPC with Enhanced CPC by end of April in 2021

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Enhanced CPC

Microsoft Advertising says Enhanced CPC increases conversions while lowering CPA, but some advertisers worry about loss of control.

Microsoft will transition all search, shopping, and Dynamic Search Ads campaigns that do not have automated bidding strategies to Enhanced CPC (eCPC) beginning in March.

“Starting in March 2021 and continuing through April 2021, all existing search, shopping, and Dynamic Search Ads campaigns without any automated bidding strategies in place will be automatically migrated to Enhanced CPC. All ad groups and keywords will also be set to inherit bidding from their parent Campaign,” says the announcement.

Migration timeline. The deadline for adjusting your campaigns is at the end of April.

  • March: Manual CPC to Enhanced CPC migration begins
  • April 5: New campaigns will no longer have the option of Manual CPC
  • April 30: Any campaigns not yet using Enhanced CPC will be automatically migrated

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The details. If advertisers’ campaigns do not have an automated strategy currently set up, they will lose access to manual bidding this spring. If you’re using one of the following existing automated strategies, they will remain:

  • Target ROAS (return on ad spend) automatically sets bids at auction time to help get more revenue or conversion value for the ROAS Target you set.
  • Target Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) automatically sets your bids to achieve your desired 30-day CPA.
  • Maximize Clicks is designed to help you achieve as many clicks as possible within your budget

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Start testing now. Microsoft Advertising recommends paid advertising managers start testing their automated bidding setup now, before the migration sunset begins.

It released the following decision tree to determine which automated bidding strategy is right for your campaigns:

Microsoft Ads to replace Manual CPC with Enhanced CPC by end of April

The announcement advises advertisers to begin testing as soon as possible before manual bidding sunsets using Campaign Experiments for search: “We recommend setting up tests to identify and/or validate your optimal automated bidding setup, which may include but is not limited to Enhanced CPC.”

What are the benefits? Microsoft’s announcement states that eCPC will work with any performance goal, and its internal data states that, “Advertisers using Enhanced CPC achieve 5-10% more conversions while maintaining their cost per acquisition (CPA).” It also cited improved conversion rate and decreased CPA for advertisers using eCPC with technology provider bid strategies.

The announcement also states that, “us[ing] real-time and other rich auction signals such as operating system, browser, bid modifiers, search queries, and more” helps search marketers and their clients “stay on top of the dynamic [advertising] marketplace.”

Why we care. Microsoft states that Enhanced CPC will help advertisers improve conversions while maintaining or improving costs and won’t exceed the maximum bid settings. AI and advertising seems to be the way paid search is moving to improve efficiencies automatically.

However, many advertisers are feeling the loss of direct control over their campaigns and their clients’ accounts when there’s no insight into what the enhanced bids are. “Micromanaging your bids isn’t always a great idea, but manual CPC offers smaller or niche advertisers with less volume more control,” says Amalia Fowler, Director of Marketing at Snaptec Marketing. For others, like Zack Bedingfield, Acquisition Marketing Manager at Coconstruct, it serves as a reminder to experiment more in other platforms, “This is a good reminder that I need to be constantly testing bid strategies in Google because we are still manual there.”

Carolyn Lyden serves as the Director of Search Content for Search Engine Land and SMX. With expertise in SEO, content marketing, local search, and analytics, she focuses on making marketers’ jobs easier with important news and educational content.

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