It’s no secret Google would like you to spend more money on display ads. To accomplish this, Google now offers a Pay For Conversions (PFC) bidding option for qualified advertisers. This feature has been available for a while, but most advertisers still don’t know it exists.

Given the state of the world right now, this is the perfect time to run a no-risk Pay For Conversions display campaign.

Google Ads pay for conversions

The main qualifications for PFC are to:

a) have at least 100 conversions in your account over the past 30-days

b) not use any off-line conversions

c) have an average conversion lag time of < 7 days

Here’s some more information on qualifications.

Qualified, or can get qualified? Read on!

PFC Set Up

PCF bidding is available for both “Smart” display and standard display campaigns. As a rule of thumb, you should set your starting CPA at 1.5x your average CPA for paid search (noting a $200 hard Google cap). And set your budget to 3x or more of your target CPA. You can lower your CPA later, assuming you generate some conversions.

Other campaign settings, targeting, and creative should all follow normal best practices for conversion goal display campaigns.

Importantly, ensure you choose only the conversion goals you’re interested in paying for.

For Smart display:

Not much to do here but focus on amazing creatives. Smart display works best in high conversion volume accounts. This is because Google uses data from your other campaigns to target audiences and context. I recommend starting here with PFC unless you’re already an expert with the GDN (Google Display Network).

For standard display:

At my agency, we’ve found the most success with custom intent and in-market audiences. In terms of context, I recommend not trying to get too specific with placements or keywords. Instead, use general topic targeting. With PFC, Google will automatically adjust based on the performance of each placement. That said, it’s still a good idea to exclude low-performing placements as you go.

What to Expect

Once your ads are approved, you will get a deluge of impressions and clicks, the likes of which you’ve probably not seen when running CPC bidding. I strong recommend ensuring your site can handle the additional traffic before you launch. Check that your hosting plan has enough resources, increase your number pool for your call tracking service, and so on. Also, verify your site is handling the load okay after you launch.

If you don’t get any conversions after a few weeks Google will slowly start to turn off the tap. Assuming you’re running a Smart campaign there’s not much to do but wait another few weeks for Google to stop serving ads completely.

If, however, you’re running standard display, you do have an opportunity to refocus targeting to higher precision. Consider tightening up the contextual placements or audiences.

Don’t fret if your campaign fails to deliver any conversions. You just got a boatload of free ad impressions and clicks to boost brand awareness and influence decision making. You might see a noticeable increase in search impressions for your brand, more branded clicks, and more branded conversions.

On the other hand, perhaps you are getting some conversions from the campaign. That’s amazing, keep optimizing to build on that!

At this point, I’ll confirm that most advertisers don’t get many conversions. This is usually related to a lack of brand awareness and/or too little ad spend. And this is true whether you’re running PFC or CPC bidding. Conversion goal display ads work based on audience familiarity with your brand and massive data optimization.

Another option, is, of course, to create a new conversion goal that’s a little more attainable such as a minimum number of pages visited, time spent on site, e-book download, newsletter sign-up, etc. This will give you a much easier to convert goal, albeit at what should be a much lower tCPA, and you’ll end up with a steady stream of clicks and conversions.


Pay For Conversions display campaigns are a no-risk way to test display ads for your business. The worst thing that can happen is getting a ton of free branding. And for some advertisers, this can provide an ongoing stream of new leads or sales at a fixed cost. There’s absolutely no reason not to try PFC ads assuming you’re qualified to do so.

Ready to start? Learn more about Pay For Conversions bidding from Google.