Do you ever find yourself in a meeting and hear your colleagues throw around the term “CPA” as if it’s the secret code to unlock marketing success? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

CPA, or “Cost Per Acquisition,” is a metric that has become increasingly popular in the world of digital marketing. But what is a CPA in marketing? And more importantly, how can it help you measure the success of your marketing campaigns?

Well, buckle up because we’re about to dive into the world of CPAs and explore their pros and cons in measuring your marketing performance. Are you ready to learn how to take your marketing game to the next level?

Let’s go!

What is a CPA in marketing?

In marketing, CPA stands for “Cost Per Action,” which is a metric used to measure the total cost of acquiring a customer or a lead when they’ve taken action. It is calculated by dividing the total cost of a marketing campaign by the number of customers or leads that have taken action through that campaign. That might mean installing an app or purchasing a product.

Yep, your question, “what is a CPA in marketing”… answered.

CPA is often used in performance-based marketing, where advertisers pay only when a specific action is taken by a customer, such as making a purchase or filling out a form. By tracking the CPA, marketers can assess the effectiveness of their campaigns and optimize them for maximum ROI (Return on Investment).

A CPA is an important metric for businesses to monitor as it helps them to understand the cost-effectiveness of their marketing efforts and adjust their strategies accordingly.

As it relates to affiliate marketing, CPAs have many positives and negatives (that we’ll cover later).

How does a CPA work in affiliate marketing?

When a customer clicks on the affiliate‘s link and completes the desired action, the affiliate earns a commission from the advertiser. The commission is usually a percentage of the sale or a fixed amount agreed upon in advance.

CPA is an important metric in affiliate marketing because it allows advertisers to track the effectiveness of their campaigns and ensure they are only paying for results. For affiliates, it provides an opportunity to earn money by promoting products or services that align with their audience’s interests.

To maximize their earnings, affiliates typically look for high-paying CPA offers that are relevant to their audience and have a high conversion rate. Advertisers, on the other hand, aim to keep their CPA low by optimizing their landing pages, improving their targeting, and monitoring their campaigns closely.

Overall, CPA is a win-win for both advertisers and affiliates in affiliate marketing. It incentivizes affiliates to promote the advertiser’s products effectively while allowing advertisers to only pay for successful conversions.

Why do publishers prefer CPA networks over in-house affiliate solutions?

Publishers often prefer to work with CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) networks over in-house affiliate solutions for several reasons:

Access to a wide range of advertisers

CPA networks have a large number of advertisers with varying offers and commission rates. Publishers can choose from a wide range of offers and find ones that are most relevant to their audience.

Streamlined payment process

CPA networks handle the payment process, so publishers don’t have to chase after advertisers for payment. Publishers receive payments from the network, which simplifies the payment process and ensures that they get paid on time.

Support and guidance

CPA networks often provide support and guidance to publishers on how to optimize their campaigns and increase their earnings. They offer tools and resources that can help publishers improve their marketing strategies.

Reduced risk

CPA networks offer publishers some level of protection against non-payment and fraud. They vet advertisers before allowing them to join the network, and they monitor offers to ensure that they are legitimate.

Easy to get started

Publishers can quickly and easily sign up for CPA networks and start promoting offers. There is no need to negotiate individual agreements with advertisers or set up complex tracking systems.

Overall, CPA networks provide publishers with many benefits, including access to a wide range of offers, streamlined payments, support and guidance, reduced risk, and easy setup. These benefits make CPA networks an attractive option for publishers looking to monetize their website or blog through affiliate marketing.

What are the best CPA networks?

There are many CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) networks available, and the best one for you will depend on your niche, experience level, and goals. Here are some of the top CPA networks that are widely recognized and reputable in the industry:



Known for its high payouts and quality offers in various niches, including finance, dating, and health.

Website here.



Offers a wide range of offers, including mobile apps, finance, and e-commerce.

Website here.

CJ Affiliate

cj affiliate

One of the largest affiliate networks that offers a mix of CPA and traditional affiliate programs across various niches.

Website here.



Specializes in performance marketing, including CPA, CPL, and CPS offers.

Website here.


share-a-sale, what is a CPA in marketing

A well-established network that offers a wide range of offers in various niches, including fashion, travel, and health.

Website here.

Rakuten Advertising


Formerly known as LinkShare, Rakuten offers a mix of CPA and traditional affiliate programs and has a wide range of offers in various niches.

Website here.

Advantages and disadvantages of CPA in marketing

CPA can be an effective way to measure and optimize the performance of marketing campaigns. However, it also has its limitations and may not be the best fit for every business or marketing strategy. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons and consider other factors, such as the target audience, budget, and marketing goals, before deciding to use CPA in marketing.

Advantages of CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) in marketing:

  • Precise measurement: CPA allows marketers to measure the exact cost of acquiring a customer or lead, providing an accurate picture of the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.
  • Efficient use of resources: Since marketers pay only for successful conversions, they can allocate their budget more efficiently and avoid wasting money on ineffective campaigns.
  • Predictable costs: With CPA, marketers know exactly how much they will pay for each acquisition, which makes budgeting and forecasting more accurate and predictable.
  • Incentivizes performance: Since marketers only pay for successful conversions, it incentivizes affiliates, influencers, and other partners to perform well and optimize their campaigns to drive more conversions.

Disadvantages of CPA in marketing:

  • Higher costs: CPA offers can be more expensive than other forms of advertising, such as CPC (Cost Per Click) or CPM (Cost Per Impression).
  • Limited control: Since marketers rely on affiliates, influencers, or other partners to drive conversions, they have limited control over the quality of the traffic and the customer experience.
  • Time-consuming: Finding and vetting affiliates or partners can be time-consuming, as can monitoring and optimizing campaigns to ensure they are effective.
  • Limited reach: CPA campaigns may not reach a broad audience since they rely on affiliates or partners to promote the offers.

Now you have the answer to ‘What is a CPA in marketing’

A CPA in marketing is an effective business model that allows advertisers to pay a commission to customers when they complete specific actions such as submitting a form, downloading an app, or sending an email. This type of marketing has several advantages over in-house affiliate solutions, including low costs and increased reach.

Additionally, there are many reputable CPA networks available to choose from, each with its own unique features and benefits. While there are some drawbacks to this method of advertising, overall it is considered a cost-effective way to increase visibility and generate leads.

Enjoy this article?

Get our best content directly to your inbox.