CPA vs. CPC: There Can be Only One

Lance Hemenway Blog, Monetization

It’s a classic matchup. Jolie vs. Aniston, Wolverine vs. Hulk, CPA vs. CPC.

If you ask affiliate marketers their opinion on the topic, you risk awakening their inner Manson. A plethora of platitudes and profanity will rain down upon you as your frightened mind races to find a means to somehow withdraw the question entirely. Despite the prevailing logic behind running both CPA and CPC offers simultaneously, many publishers still feel the need to swear off one, or the other, as if it were a drug they were once strung out on in Tibet.

If I had to pick, CPA or CPC,-which one is superior? Which would I pick? Well, I’ve been around the block a few times and I have witnessed, first hand, that CPA offers do much better than CPC offers. It’s true. Swallow hard and admit it.

But wait, if that’s true, then why do so many people (myself included) still push CPC offers? Well, the simple truth is that they work. CPC offers will continue to be pushed as long as they are producing revenue. It’s that simple. If CPC offers didn’t make anyone money, they would simply go away. Like Sears or the Spice Girls.

So, if they work, then what’s with all the bad mouthing of CPC offers then? Honestly, it’s mostly about publishers not being able to discern between “Bad CPC offers,” and “Bad CPC traffic.” It’s really guilt by association. You see, all CPC offers shouldn’t be labeled as bad because of bad traffic, the same way all movies shouldn’t be labeled as bad because of Keanu Reeves.

At the end of the day it’s all about conversions. Sure the CPC advertiser is taking a cut, but it’s a gamble because they never really know whether the traffic they are paying for is actually going to convert. In contrast, the CPA advertisers knows exactly what revenue will get generated per sale or lead because if the person doesn’t convert, they are not going to pay. For the advertiser, the CPA calculations are more finite, as the CPC traffic is more of a crap shoot.

However, from my experience the exact opposite is true. I never know if the CPA offer is going to perform on my data. Sure I can get them to click on the offer, but will they buy or submit? The risk is heavier on my side. The CPC offer has fewer risks because I’m sending to my lists with intent for them to click; I’m not guaranteeing a conversion.

So who is the winner? Both. Put me down as in favor of CPC with a splash of targeted CPA.

I push CPC every day. It’s my bread and butter. It’s a steady flow of revenue that generally is more stable than the CPA traffic. But I’m not religious about it or anything; I’m still pushing my CPA offers carefully and judiciously. But while I’m doing that…

I’m pushing CPC offers 24/7.

Get Results, Get AdStation!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Share this Post

About the Author
Lance Hemenway

Lance Hemenway

Lance is the AdStation Director of Marketing. He's an internet veteran who was a founding member of Intermix Media, the parent company of Lance serves on the boards of the Bureau of Internet Accessibility and Think Big Kansas City. He's based at the Kansas City headquarters.