Google Grants $2 CPC Bid Change – A month after

A month ago Google announced that it was increasing the maximum bid amount through its Google Grant program from $1.00 to $2.00.

This was met with great fanfare from the non-profit organizations that are taking advantage of this tremendous marketing opportunity. The previous $1.00 CPC maximum bid has been in place since the beginning of the Google Grants program in the mid-2000s.

A lot has changed in paid search marketing since then. Thankfully, Google has stepped up and helped out non-profits by allowing them to remain competitive on Adwords with this adjustment.

In that same email Google also announced that it would be placing Google Grant ads below that of paid advertisers. The chatter among PPC world was that this could potentially nullify the bid increase and effectively punish those non-profits that were expertly managing their Google Grant.

The Data

Over the past month we have monitored both of these changes in the accounts that Media Cause manages. Media Cause offers paid management services by Google Certified professionals and also free services through our volunteer platform.

Media Cause Google Grant Data
We manage over 65 Google Grant accounts. All of our Premium Accounts are managed by a Google Certified professional.

Our Strategy

On January 28th, we changed every keyword bid in both the professionally managed accounts and on the volunteer platform. We were not exactly sure what the result was going to be, namely because we didn’t truly know how Google was implementing the “Grant ads will appear below paid ads” policy. We figured it was better to err on the side of caution and shoot for at least the #2 ad placement position. Also, on some of our GrantsPro accounts we have no been spending our entire $40,000 a month budget and we hate leaving free money on the table, so we hypothesized that this would allow us to get into more expensive keyword auctions.

The Result

Mixed bag. We took a look at seven key performance indicators:

  • Account Spend
  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Click-Through-Rate
  • Cost Per Click
  • Conversions
  • Conversion Rate
  • Average Position

Premium Accounts – Grantspro

With Premium GrantsPro accounts we saw an average increase of 54% in total spend and a 93% increase in CPC ($.65 to $1.27).  Some accounts saw an increase in impressions, others didn’t. Some saw an increase in conversions, others didn’t. There were no big “Ah Ha!” moments when looking at the premium accounts data at first glance – except for one – average position remained flat (2.89 versus 2.97).

Media Cause Data on Google GrantsPro accounts
Media Cause Data on Google GrantsPro accounts


Volunteer platform Accounts – standard Google Grant accounts

Accounts on our volunteer platform had a much more significant benefit from the $2.00 CPC bid raise. Results below are from 50 standard Google Grant Accounts.

  • Clicks rose 3.93%
  • Impressions rose 37.97%
  • CTR declined (expectantly) 24.67%
  • Avg CPC increased 52.64%
  • Spend increased 58.64%
  • Avg position went from 3.2 to 3.63
  • Conversions increased 8.59%
Google Grant Volunteer Platform Data
Media Cause data on Google Grants accounts managed on our volunteer platform


Bottom Line

Increasing the bid to $2.00 won’t necessarily increase your effectiveness with the Google Grant program. We wish it were that easy. Truth of the matter is Google Adwords is a sophisticated marketing tool. Our data shows on accounts that were professional managed we didn’t see any significant positive effects. In fact, we saw a drop in conversions by 15%, which can be attributed to the fact we were paying more for clicks than in the previous month and that reduced the amount of clicks we received overall – this stymied our conversion numbers. Our approach of raising all of the keyword bids in the account was incorrect, and we will need to take a closer look at individual keyword bids based on conversion numbers and cost-per-conversion to see which keyword bids are actually worth raising. An important note to make is our professionally managed accounts have been managed by an Adwords certified professional and are continually optimized for conversion. These account were already performing at very high standards previous to the CPC bid change.

On the other hand the Volunteer platform accounts are not managed as heavily and showed immediate positive effects. Namely, these accounts were able to get more impressions, thus more clicks. The $2.00 CPC change allowed these accounts to spend more money out of their budget, but the jumps in spend didn’t have a reciprocating effect on conversion.

When thinking about your approach for your Google Grant, be sure to look at what you overall goals are with Adwords. It shouldn’t be getting more clicks and traffic. Ultimately, that doesn’t mean much if you are not doing anything with the traffic. While raising your bids across the board to $2.00 will give short-term gains, it is best to have an effective conversion strategy in place and then start spending your budget wisely as it effects those conversions.

To learn more about Media Cause’s Google Grant management program, please click over or shoot us a line. We are always happy to share our knowledge.


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