Getting Started With: Google Pay for Conversions

Garrett Aihara

January 14, 2021

What is Pay for Conversions?

Pay for conversions is a bidding strategy for your Google Ads that does what it says: Instead of paying for clicks or impressions, you pay for conversions.

Should you use it?

I strongly recommend testing this format as it is a low-risk way to grow your business and gather insights. During these uncertain times, paying per action is a wise way to watch your bottom line without stemming growth. 

What are the requirements to use this for your Google ads?

  • Pay for conversions are only eligible to use in standard and smart display campaigns.
  • There must be over 100 account conversions in the last 30 days, and 90% of those conversions must occur within seven days of the clicks.

Yikes! What if you don’t meet the conversion volume requirements for high-value conversions like purchases or leads? Fear not...I will cover how to work around that.

Setting up Pay for Conversions for an eligible account

In terms of the setup, you can use a standard display or smart display. I recommend using the Smart Display. If you do choose to use a standard display, consider turning on targeting expansion. Remember, you are only paying for conversions, so you want to reach as many potential customers as possible.

If you are eligible to use Pay for Conversions, the setup is simple. Under the campaign bidding settings, select a target cost per action and select pay for conversions.

You’re all set! It’s that simple.

What if you don’t have enough conversions to use Pay for Conversions?

Below is a workaround if you’re stuck:

  • Before getting started, it is imperative to data integrity that for every campaign you use a campaign level conversion and NOT an account conversion. This setting can be toggled under the conversion settings for the campaign. Get all your campaigns set to campaign level conversion tracking...great! 

  • To get around the account conversion volume requirements you simply change the account conversion definition. Add a page view conversion or some other high volume action taken on your website to help quickly qualify your account to use Pay for Conversion.

  • Setting all your campaigns to campaign level conversion tracking, will ignore any account level conversions you add to qualify for pay for conversions. This will allow us to get the best insights from the campaign and lead us to our next step. 

Completing Pay For Conversions Set Up

Once you reach 100 conversions at the account level, you should see pay for conversions as an option within a few days. You are now ready to complete the setup of your pay for conversion display campaign. Here are the steps:

  1. Set up your pay for conversion campaign in a paused state.
  2. Enable the pay for conversion option
  3. Put a placeholder value in the CPA section.
  4. Save your campaign settings.
  5. Open your account conversion settings and turn off page view as an account level conversion (or whatever you added as a high volume account conversion)
  6. Set the CPA value to what you want to pay for your high-value conversions (Ex. lead or purchase)
  7. Enable your campaign

This works because Pay for Conversions will stay on that bidding strategy, even though the conversion volume falls below 100 in the last 30 days. Essentially you are only counting high volume actions as conversions to meet the requirement then turning it off so you can use the pay for conversion for the conversion action you want. 

Considerations when using this strategy

  • You might see a considerable spike in impressions and clicks when the campaign starts. This has the potential to drive a large amount of traffic to your website that can dilute the quality of all site visitor retargeting lists.
  • Pay for conversion spend may not show up for several days due to the delay between a click and conversion and latency in Google’s system to validate the conversion. Google attributes spend and modifications to the click’s date (not the conversion), so when monitoring performance, pull a rolling 30 days to monitor the performance.
  • Pay for conversion campaigns handle budgets differently. In some cases, daily spend could be more than 2x your daily cap and also applied retroactively (depending on the time lag between the click and conversion). 

“Pay for conversions uses more flexible budgeting rules because the number of conversions in a given day varies more than the number of clicks. As a result, if you pay for conversions, your daily spend may exceed your average daily budget more than two times." Source:


At best, Pay for Conversions is an excellent zero-risk way to drive conversions cost-effectively. The worst that can happen is that you get free branding, a boatload of traffic to your website, and a better understanding of what audiences and demographics NOT to go after in other campaigns. It’s a win-win situation.

About the Expert: Garrett is a Google Guru with 10+ years experience directly managing and advising on Google campaign management for e-commerce, local search/retail, SaaS application across a wide category of verticals. Garrett loves to help customers work through different issues on Google's platforms and how to get the most value from their ad services.

If you’re interested in connecting with Garrett or speaking with another Hopps expert to improve your Google Ads, start a session now.

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