CPC Bidding 101


shopping feed management

How much should you bid for each product?

The main principle to take from this is that you want to bid low on products that don’t convert well (very low or 0% conversion rate) and bid high on products that do convert well (high conversion rate). You’ll need to determine the conversion rate by consistently checking your analytics. The amount you bid indicates two things to a CSE:

  1. Your bid amount tells the CSE how much you are willing to pay every time someone clicks on the link to your own product page.
  2. Your bid amount is a strong measure (of several) that the CSE uses to determine how high they want your product to rank on the CSEs page. The latter is important because this is why you want to bid higher on products that convert well. It’s saying that you want to boost this product up the CSE’s product rankings so that it’s one of the first to appear when a consumer does a general search query because you’re willing to bet that it’s going sell.  Here’s an example scenario:

Let’s say you sell a toaster for which you set a 40 cent bid. We can develop this potential trend, where a whole bunch of John Smith’s start clicking on your product, get linked back to your website, and decide whether or not to buy. This is actually the ideal scenario, but it’s up to your company’s website to nudge the consumer to go through with the transaction.

However, this is a double-edged sword in that this could be terrible for your CSE campaign if your website is just awful at achieving conversions.

In one unfortunate case, we have 1,000 John Smith’s clicking on your toaster but none of them are buying it, meaning you end up paying $400 for pure clicks and no sales. That’s wasted ad spend. This is what you can avoid through diligent monitoring of your product-level reports and respective bids.


A Shopzilla bidding page in the merchant center.

This is why it’s important to constantly pay attention to and manage your product bids in order to ensure your CSE campaigns are cost-effective for your business.

CPC Rate Cards

Most comparison shopping engines also have public CPC rate cards. These rate cards dictate the minimum CPC bid that they’ll accept from merchants advertising on their site. For example, Nextag has a minimum CPC bid of $0.53 on cribs, meaning if you sell a crib on Nextag, then you’ll have to bid above $0.53 to gain any sort of traction in rankings for your product.

Rate cards are not stagnant things. Sometimes a given comparison shopping engine will increase their rates mid-year for apparently no reason, and you can expect to see increased CPCs when the Holiday Shopping season rolls around because the CSEs are gearing up for increased traffic.

You can check out the CSEs’ CPC rate card here.

Once you’re comfortable with your bids, there are a few strategies on how to get online consumers to click on your product and, in turn, boost your website’s traffic. Here are a few:


The Golden Rule of CSE Bidding

Bid high on top-sellers, bid low on poor sellers or remove them entirely from your data feed. However, be careful with high bids because bidding high on a high conversion product works under the assumption that the quality of traffic you’re receiving is good and qualified.


Promotions are important when it comes to determining bids because you want to give your promotions exposure, and that starts with high rankings.

Include your promotions right on the CSE rather than only on your website. This is just another lure for the customer and could be make or break when it comes to click-throughs and conversions.

Note: Not all promotions on CSEs are free of charge. In fact, only Shopping.com allows you to list promotions for free. So whenever you’re paying a CSE extra (on top of the CPCs you’ll be charged) for a marketing promotion, you NEED to be sure that it’s actually producing results.

After listing a paid (usually 5-10 cents) promotion, check on the product reports 20-30 days afterward to see if there were any increases in conversions. If not, you should probably just stop paying for that promotion.


Coupons and Rebates on a PriceGrabber listing page.

Continue on and let’s dive into some proven bidding strategies.

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