What Is CPA Marketing? – Quick And Simple

What does CPA stand for in CPA marketing?

Hold on to your seats, we’re going for a quick ride across what CPA is and how does it work. CPA is an acronym, which stands for cost per acquisition or cost per action.

It’s a type of affiliate program, that allows companies to connect with third party publishers to promote their offers.

By third party publishers, I mean us, common folk, who wants to earn some extra money on the side. When it comes to promoting CPA offers, you don’t get paid to sell other companies products. You earn money by sending leads to those companies.

What is a lead?

You get a lead, when someone completes an action, hence cost per action.

Examples of these types of actions can include signing up for trial offer, downloading an app, signing up for an online game, buying a product using a discount code, completing a simple survey and more.

Roles played in CPA Marketing


merchant online

This is the most important role of them all. Merchants are companies that create actual products or offer services, which affiliates get to promote.

These companies pay for leads, publishers drive to their businesses.

How do merchants profit from CPA marketing?

It enables them, so they can get their businesses promoted by other people outside their companies and pay them for the traffic they drive in.


define affiliate

Affiliates or publishers are those third party marketers, who get paid for driving traffic to offers and getting leads.

Affiliates can work directly with merchants or they can connect with them indirectly via CPA network.

Their main purpose is to promote offers to the end users.

CPA Network

cpa marketing

CPA network is that middleman, who helps merchants and publishers connect. Merchants come to these networks and register as advertisers, who then create some promotional content like banners, create offers and put them live on the network, ready for publishers to take over the work.

Publishers then get their own affiliate links, unique to each publisher, and promote them in their content.

As we mentioned that merchants come and register as advertisers, I’d like to add that affiliates come and register as publishers or affiliates. There are two different registries and when you want to sign up for a network, you should pay attention for which you’re going for.

CPA network also handles the money, so there is no need to be in contact with all those companies, whose products you’re trying to promote. Network will pay you once you’ve reached the minimal payout amount, which varies from network to network.

The End User

end user

This is just a fancy term to describe us, common folk. The end users are practically everybody. All of us browse the web and all of us probably came across a CPA offer before.

To many of us has happened before that we even performed the action that got some affiliate paid, without even knowing about it.

Well, now you know why are there so many surveys and ads everywhere. It’s all meant for us, who interact with them sooner rather than later.

How it all works together

Merchants or companies want to pay affiliates, so they can get more leads from other sources than just their own. CPA marketing is very beneficial for the affiliates, since they don’t get paid for the sales, but for the traffic they generate for the company.

Publishers create their own content, where they send targeted traffic to. So, if we step down the funnel and mention that some of that traffic will convert and become leads for the merchants.

If you’d like to learn more about CPA marketing, Backlinko has created an extensive post about it.


I hope this short post has shed some light on what’s going on behind the scenes of every ad you’ve come across. If you found it helpful, I’d appreciate it very much if you shared it with your friends.

Do you feel like I’ve missed something?

Write in the comments below, I’d appreciate your feedback.

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