CPC (cost per click) affiliate programs are some of the easiest to implement.
The term CPC is fairly straightforward – it is the amount of money advertisers pay affiliate marketers for every click that users make on the advertiser’s ads or banners.
CPC was one of the most popular marketing techniques when the internet started becoming mainstream, but it has also had its fair share of controversies. CPC is also known as PPC (pay per click) and still remains a solid affiliate marketing opportunity due to its uniqueness and contextual nature.
CPC affiliate programs are attractive to both merchants and affiliate marketers. For merchants, they pay for actual clicks on their ads, and not impressions.
You can fairly assume that an ad will have more impressions (or views) compared to actual clicks, which implies that merchants are getting more value for their advertisement budget. Additionally, CPC affiliate programs offer merchants a chance to offer a potential customer other deals and promotions at the cost of just ‘one click’.
For affiliate marketers, CPC makes it easy to monetize their audiences by displaying banners or ads that are relevant to the underlying content.
What is CPC Affiliate Marketing?
Cost-per-click advertising overview
First, let’s explore the concept of cost-per-click advertising, and then we will take a closer look at how it fits into the affiliate marketing sphere.
As the name implies, CPC is an advertising method where an advertiser pays a fee every time someone clicks on their ads, irrespective if the person goes on to sign up or make a purchase. Even though the fee or rate the advertiser pays per click might seem negligible, when there are hundreds of thousands or even millions of clicks, the campaigns can become costly. This is exacerbated by the fact that only a very small percentage of those potential clients will convert and be monetized by the advertiser.
However, performance marketing is all about ROI. This means that even though the advertiser may have to spend a lot to get large volumes of clicks, the effective acquisition cost per new customer is more relevant to measuring ROI. CPC campaigns can be optimized and fine-tuned in many ways to be way more efficient and drive up ROI. The most well-known CPC/PPC advertising platform is Google AdWords.
Cost-per-click affiliate marketing overview
With this basic understanding of CPC, we can now turn our attention to CPC affiliate marketing. With affiliate offers, publishers advertise products or services of a business (advertiser/merchant), and based on their performance, they earn a commission. The most common earnings models are CPA and CPS, which both rely on the conversion of leads.
CPC affiliate marketing is simply the earnings model applied to an affiliate’s efforts for getting people to click ads and be redirected to the advertiser. In other words, the same as an advertiser would pay Google for every click on their ads, instead, now the advertiser pays the affiliate every time someone clicks on the ads shown by the affiliate. Obviously, there is an affiliate program or network that facilitates all of this, so the CPC is actually paid to them by the advertiser, they take their cut and then they pay the affiliate their portion.
Earnings Potential with CPC Affiliate Offers
The rate per click will depend on the brand or product being advertised and the geographic location, so when a reader clicks on an advert for a retailer in Vietnam (local to them) the affiliate might net a few cents, compared to a few dollars or higher for a major brand in the United States or Europe.
There are a few key factors that influence the CPC rate, and these include:
- Niche – The more valuable and popular the product or service, the higher the rate. For example, an affiliate dating offer may pay $1 per click, whereas a finance trading offer may pay $5 per click.
- Geographic Location – Different markets produce different value customers. Low-income countries with less disposable income are less valuable than highly developed first-world countries with higher incomes.
- Competition – Highly competitive niches like finance or gambling will pay much higher CPCs than for example smartphone cases.
- Season – During peak seasons like Christmas, certain niches may pay higher CPCs to attract more customers.
As an affiliate, you may choose to diversify your monetization paths by using a variety of different affiliate offers with your content, i.e., CPC ads, CPA offers, CPL, CPS, etc.
One thing we should clarify to avoid confusion is that you as an affiliate might use pay-per-click ad networks to first drive traffic to your web properties, and then get the visitors to click on your affiliate CPC offers. You obviously need to ensure that your traffic acquisition costs are less than what you will get from the affiliate program in order to be profitable.
This is commonly referred to as CPC or PPC arbitrage, however, as simple as it sounds to “buy low and sell high”, building and maintaining profitable PPC arbitrage campaigns can be challenging.
Why CPC – Pros and Cons
Many new and even experienced affiliates see CPC as a quick and easy way to money as an affiliate, but it is not always as simple or advantageous. This is why it is important to understand the pros and cons of CPC affiliate offers.
Pros of CPC
The primary advantage of CPC for affiliates is that it provides instant results that are easy to measure. Affiliates only need to get genuine, unique clicks to start earning. Affiliates do not need to concern themselves with relying on the merchant to convert the referral into a paying customer. This benefit extends even further into the sales funnel as the affiliate also does not have to worry about how well the merchant retains the customer.
Often, when working with other earnings models like CPL, CPA, CPS, and specifically revenue share, while you as the affiliate may do your part incredibly well, if the merchant is poor at conversion or retention, it will hamper your earnings potential.
Another major benefit of CPC affiliate marketing is it has fewer “moving parts” than other earnings models, but it still requires a diligent and concerted effort to optimize and maximize returns.
Cons of CPC
The major issue with CPC is the risk of click fraud. This used to be a major problem in the early days of Google Ads, with rampant fake or fraudulent clicks costing advertisers substantial sums. Even today, the problem remains, costing around $35 billion in 2021, with rivals, clicks-by-mistake, and bots clicking away. While affiliate networks have developed security tools to reduce or eliminate the problem, you should take measures to ensure you don’t send loads of invalid clicks to the network.
Functionally, given the lower value of most CPC affiliate offers, you will need to get a steady stream of traffic to your pages, blogs, or social media to deliver those clicks. There is often a critical mass point where earnings begin to rocket, but reaching that point is not always that simple.
Finally, there is the risk of not earning as much compared to rather promoting CPA or CPS offers. While the number of conversions will be lower than raw clicks, you will need to assess your campaigns regularly to determine if you can achieve better profitability with a CPA or CPS deal.
How CPC Affiliate Programs Work
In CPC affiliate programs, there are 3 main parties:
- affiliate networks
Both advertisers and publishers sign up with an affiliate network. Advertisers want more traffic to their sites, whereas publishers use their websites to place ads that visitors will click and be directed to the merchant. Publishers select various CPC offers they wish to promote, and every product will have its own unique link. The affiliate network will track clicks made by the publisher’s visitors and give the due compensation.
There are a variety of marketing channels that publishers use to get their audience to click on ads. They can use blogs, email newsletters, or posts on different social media platforms. On their websites, publishers can place banners in different locations such as headers, sidebars, or footers. The placement of banners should be in such a way that it is visible and easily clickable by visitors.
Ways to Get even more Traffic
One of the ways to achieve more traffic is by ranking high on search engines. To achieve this, publishers can seek to employ strategies that will make their sites more search engine friendly. This requires high-level SEO that will over a long period of time generate organic traffic. While organic traffic is capable of providing long-term income, it is highly competitive and requires a great deal of time and investment with no guarantee of success and must be constantly maintained to ensure consistent results.
- Paid Traffic
This is why publishers can sometimes opt for paid traffic. This way, publishers can generate traffic to their sites without having to wait for their sites to rank. Just bear in mind, that when you are working with a CPC affiliate program and using paid traffic, it is essentially an arbitrage game where you need to be paying less for your incoming traffic than what you will be getting paid by the CPC affiliate program in order to be profitable. The major benefit of paid traffic is it can generate quick results and there is guaranteed traffic which can then translate to more ad clicks. While paid traffic can generate quick results, it is costly and requires proper setup and optimization to be successful in the long run.
The Controversies of CPC Affiliate Programs
CPC affiliate programs have existed for a long while on the internet, and they have had their fair share of controversies. In particular, click fraud is a big deal and advertisers are working hard to ensure that they only pay for legitimate clicks. There have been software bots used to generate illegitimate clicks that do not end up meeting the expectations of advertisers.
Furthermore, some publishers are also known to click-bait their audiences, which can result in non-prospective users clicking on irrelevant ads. This is why advertisers are moving away from CPC models to other ‘safer’ models such as CPA and CPL. Advertisers are also keen on utilizing trustworthy affiliate networks that employ measures to track and control accidental ad clicks, robot clicks as well as other click abuses.
Alternatives to CPC Affiliate Programs
CPM (Cost Per Mile)
In CPM, publishers are paid a fixed commission for 1000 displays of advertisers’ ads. CPM can also be flexible, with publishers able to charge a fixed amount for letting an ad be visible to their audiences for a predetermined time period. CPM is very popular in the ad world, with advertisers able to use them to gain and promote brand awareness and recognition. For publishers, the CPM model offers more predictable returns because they are likely to know the amount of audience their platform usually attracts. CPM is also cheaper to implement, with publishers only required to display relevant ads with no other additional conditions for commission payouts. Nonetheless, CPM publishers may be required to provide rich ads that will provide value to advertisers. This can mean displaying interactive ads, videos, or pop-ups.
CPL and CPA
In CPL (Cost Per Lead) and CPA (Cost Per Acquisition), there are increasing conditions that must be met by publishers before they qualify for compensation from the advertiser. In CPL, a visitor must make an additional effort in addition to viewing an ad so that he will be deemed a lead by the advertiser. This action can be opening a free account, subscribing to a newsletter, provide contact details, or joining a rewards program.
CPA is also very similar to CPL, but there are even more conditions. In CPA, publishers only get compensated when advertisers make a successful sale to visitors. This means that the visitor who provided contact details goes ahead and purchases a product from the advertiser.
CPL and CPA are very attractive to advertisers because they are guaranteed value for their money. For publishers, CPL and CPA models guarantee higher compensation for successful conversions. The models are ideal for publishers who have an audience within a narrow niche because they are more likely to take action on interesting and relevant offers.
The Future of CPC Affiliate Programs
CPC marketing is still very important for many advertisers because of its lower costs and the ability to generate instant responses from potential customers. But it faces the huge challenge of click fraud. Thus, the future of CPC marketing is all about click integrity. As a publisher, you always need to be thinking long term, which means even if you generate millions of clicks for an advertiser if your traffic doesn’t deliver eventually deliver value for the advertiser they will not want to accept your traffic and the affiliate network may ban you from promoting CPC campaigns.
Tips for Effective CPC Marketing
The target for every publisher is to earn more than what they will pay per click. This eventually means that while paid traffic will deliver short-term results, publishers must focus on organic traffic generation techniques that will serve them better in the long run.
CTR – CPC Best Tips:
- Use the Right Template for Your Campaigns
It is important to use impressive templates that will be aesthetically pleasing on both mobile and desktop. The design should be neat and devoid of any clutter. A professional campaign will tend to be high converting. Always think about the user experience on your site. If your site is covered in ads because you think it will get more clicks, you are wrong. Users may become “banner blind” which means they completely ignore the ads. You need to find the right balance that will satisfy both you and your audience.
- Floating Bars
The concept of ‘pop-up fatigue’ has always hindered user experience and can limit conversions or disengage your audience. This is why publishers are now embracing the use of floating bars that are non-intrusive. Floating bars rest on top of web pages without impacting user experience. Publishers can use floating bars to constantly display their affiliate links to products.
- Quality Content
Quality, relevant content is the only sure way to build the trust and interest of your audience. Some of the best content that can optimize clicks include reviews, comparative articles, tables, and information articles. Publishers should ensure that their content is SEO-friendly so that it has great chances of ranking high on popular search engines.
- Email Series
Email marketing is a cost-effective way of reaching your audience. But it is easy to have your emails ending up in spam folders of your potential customers. That is why it is important to have an email series that will cultivate an engaging relationship with your audience. The email series can go in stages such as Welcome Email, Informational Content, Affiliate Link, and More Content. This way, your audience can remain engaged and will be more receptive to affiliate offers that come occasionally.
The Best CPC Affiliate Programs and Networks
With a huge range of CPC affiliate services to choose from, you should take your time and investigate the best that will work for you or try several across your different properties to identify those with the best ads, performance, and support.
1. Google AdSense CPC Program
Even though the value of Google adverts is falling for most content creators who use the service, its scale and size make it impossible to ignore. For affiliates, it is also free and easy to sign up for, delivering targeted and appropriate content-based ads. Obviously, Google AdSense is not an affiliate program, but it can be used in the same way.
While you can choose where in your content areas the adverts should appear, Google AdSense sometimes presents unrelated ads that may not appeal to your audience.
With Google AdSense, you are presented with a slick dashboard, showing clicks, CPC rate, page RPM, and other vital statistics, all easy to navigate and drill down into.
2. Skyscanner Affiliate Program
The travel niche is among the higher-performing markets among affiliates, and Skyscanner is a great example of a CPC affiliate program. To join, you need to have a travel-content-focused site that is regularly updated, and you must have over 1,000 followers.
Once you have signed up and been accepted, you can deploy the Skyscanner search widget, or use banners or links on your site or with your content and you are good to go. The widget enables your audience to search Skyscanner’s massive database for holidays, hotels, flights, car rentals, and other travel-related products.
Skyscanner’s CPC rates will vary wildly based on the quality of traffic you deliver, but you also get commissions on sales of the many travel services and products they sell, generating both reliable CPC income and greater, longer-term revenue through bookings.
With strong brand power and the type of offers that everyone will want, especially during seasonal times, Skyscanner is a great example of a CPC affiliate program that dominates a sector and adds value to affiliates.
3. Dr Cash CPC Affiliate Program
Skyscanner will only work with travel bloggers, influencers, and the like, but a good example of a more general CPC affiliate program is Dr Cash. They offer nutraceuticals that have a wide variety of use cases, including health and beauty products, nutrition, creams, and exercise powders. Therefore, it fits neatly in a broad range of home and health blogs, sports and exercise, fashion and beauty, and many more categories.
Once signed up for and accepted by the Dr Cash affiliate program, the results can come in fast. Payments are made twice a day if you hit the $50 threshold. There are new offers every day from hair care to performance improvement, joint care, and diet supplements. And you can easily sort the list by supported region or country, and type of offer.
Dr Cash has a community to help new affiliates get started and provides expert tips, plus its adverts can be used across Facebook, Google, and other social media, broadening your ability to engage with audiences and create opportunities.
4. Algo-Affiliates Network
The above examples might be fine if you are focused on one subject, but if you are looking to maximize your affiliate income, you may want a variety of adverts across many categories, that’s where an affiliate network like ours comes in great use.
At Algo-Affiliates, we provide thousands of ads across most of the popular content categories, and with a single dashboard, you can track, manage and analyze your performance. Categories include eCommerce, software, health, dating, finance, cryptocurrencies, insurance, surveys, and many more.
As a network, with extensive experience in performance marketing, we help you earn and grow and there are plenty of fresh opportunities to work with us on the latest and best products.
5. Infolinks Publishing Partners
Aiming to deliver affiliate adverts quicker, Infolinks provides smart adverts that render perfectly on desktop and mobile browsers. Among them are Inframe, Intop, Inarticle and Intext, which do exactly what you’d expect, placing the best adverts in the most useful places for the reader.
Intext smart ads pop the advert up when a reader hovers over the text, and with the range of smart ads, you can get more ads on the page than normal, without making the page look like an ad farm. And you have multiple programs working alongside each other to increase your revenue. And for genuine differentiation, there is the recently added 3DCube advert unit, a rotating cube image or text, that really stands out.
Within the Infolinks affiliate backend, adverts can be contextually keyword-targeted, with content analyzed in milliseconds to deliver the most targeted ads. All of this makes Infolinks a progressive and smart affiliate network for your CPC affiliate marketing.
6. Taboola Affiliate Program
With most affiliate programs offering a few cents per click, you might be wanting more. And if you have the traffic (at least a million views per month) Taboola could be the publisher program you want to work with. With high-profile media advertisers, Taboola is focused on the high-end affiliate market, with popular influencers, mega YouTube stars, and so on.
But even a well-developed content site with a good audience can do the numbers and get the rewards from Taboola’s affiliate program. Taboola offers a newsroom to highlight the latest events and adverts that tie into them, traffic exchanges with popular sites to build audiences, and advert personalization to appeal to all types of visitors among your audience.
With a big brand reputation to protect, getting approved by Taboola will take some effort, but the reward for building strong and loyal traffic will be CPC ads that pay well above typical market rates, along with sponsored video and other content opportunities to bring in major payments.
Adblade is an innovative content-style ad platform. Adblade is your portal to high-paying and quality advertisers. They screen all advertisers before they allow them to buy ad inventory to make sure you as a CPC affiliate only display reputable brands that pay well. The screening process also weeds out poor or inappropriate offers.
Adblade has developed a suite of monetization solutions to help you grow by attracting the best advertisers and to ensure you maximize your ad inventory. They provide all standard IAB ads as well as their own proprietary NewsBullets® which supposedly delivers three times more performance than regular ad units.
As a CPC affiliate, they also give you control to block unwanted advertisers, which is an essential part of optimizing CPC campaigns. By using the extensive reporting provided, you can determine which ads are delivering strong returns and which ones you should block so that you don’t lose out on valuable clicks.
Outbrain is a native advertising platform that allows affiliates to earn PPC revenues with their range of solutions. There are 2 approaches you can take with Outbrain. The first is monetizing your content by allowing other publishers to promote your content and therefore drive traffic to your properties, which you can then show your affiliate ads and presell to them, similar to buying traffic.
The second approach is to promote other publishers’ content on your properties and each time a visitor clicks on an Outbrain link, you get paid. Which approach you take will depend on your marketing objectives. You are not just limited to article-based ads, as they also offer mobile ads and video content ads.
Outbrain is an industry leader and also offers various ad formats to further expand your marketing reach with in-stream ads, interstitial ads, and pop-ups. Their AI ad engine shows more than 275 billion content recommendations monthly to over half a billion people.
This direct advertiser network provides a plethora of PPC ad formats that publishers can use to generate revenues. Their ad formats include sliders, banners, pop-unders, and more. With a truly global network, you will find ads from thousands of advertisers across the globe to match your niche and audience.
Bidvertiser guarantees coverage for mobile and desktop devices, plus their real-time optimization algorithms aim to present the most relevant and targeted ads for each viewer. If you prefer more of a set-and-forget scenario, then the Bidvertiser smartlinks allow you to implement a small snippet of code and will automatically present the most suitable ads.
CPC Affiliate Programs with Algo Affiliates
To get started with CPC affiliate marketing programs, it is important to sign up with a reliable and trustworthy affiliate network. Algo Affiliates stands out as one of the top CPC affiliate networks for publishers seeking lucrative CPC programs in various niches such as finance, dating, entertainment, gambling, lifestyle, health, and many more. Algo Affiliates utilizes advanced affiliate technologies that ensure all your visitor clicks are tracked efficiently and you receive your entitled compensation.
Algo Affiliates is a relatively new affiliate network, but it is backed by a team that has vast experience in managing various affiliate programs and networks. Algo Affiliates offers publishers a variety of different commission models such as CPM, CPL, CPA, and Revenue Share. This variety makes Algo Affiliates a one-stop-shop for publishers who wish to promote a wide range of merchant products.
To help publishers get the most out of their promotion efforts, Algo Affiliates has a massive library of marketing tools including banners, videos, reviews, and more. There is also an active blog that keeps publishers up to date with the latest trends in the affiliate marketing industry. Algo Affiliates also supports flexible payout schedules. Publishers have the chance to choose merchant products with flexible and convenient payout frequencies such as monthly, fortnightly, weekly payouts, or daily payments.
1. What is CPC in affiliate marketing?
CPC, or cost-per-click, is a popular affiliate marketing business model. Affiliates show adverts on their web properties next to related content. Every time a viewer clicks an advert the affiliate will receive some money from the advertiser, typically these amounts build up into a regular larger payment from the affiliate network.
2. What is a good CPC rate for affiliate marketing?
CPC rates can range from a few cents to tens of dollars per click depending on the product, geographic area, and affiliate program. Calculating your average rate is a matter of adding up the clicks and dividing how much you earned. You can also use dashboards to see how much each advert you are running makes, and rapidly replace poor performers.
A good CPC rate is the one that delivers the best ROI. Just because one PPC offer has a higher CPC than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean more profits for you. The lower CPC might have a higher CTR, which in the big picture may be more profitable than the higher paying CPC ads with lower CTR.
3. What does the advertiser pay for CPC adverts?
There is no simple answer to this question. Different ad networks, affiliate programs, etc. each charge different amounts to advertisers per click. There are also other factors that can impact the CPC cost, such as competition between advertisers that are bidding against each other. Obviously, if a CPC campaign is no longer profitable for an advertiser due to high CPCs, then they will stop the campaign.
In the case of many PPC platforms like Google AdWords, they have what is known as a quality score. The quality score is based on various metrics and adapts and changes dynamically. The higher an advertiser’s quality score, the less CPC they will pay, whereas a lower score will increase the CPC. Many networks do this to improve the user experience and to level the playing field for advertisers.
4. What does CPC campaign optimization entail?
As with all forms of performance marketing, you can’t just throw up an ad and it will perform perfectly from the get-go. To be successful you have to make data-driven decisions and not just go with a gut feeling. All CPC affiliate programs and networks provide reporting, and it is essential to regularly check the data.
From the reports, you will be able to identify which ads are working best and which are not. It is vital to always be A/B testing to find the best performers and eliminate the non-performers. Your optimization could include simple things like testing different CTAs (Calls to Action), and different placements on your site. You may find that a particular format such as a 728×90 banner gets amazing CTR when placed above the fold of your pages but doesn’t perform when it’s near the footer.
This list gives an overview of some of the best CPC affiliate marketing options for affiliates looking to monetize their web properties using a cost-per-click approach. A little research can unveil many more CPC affiliate opportunities.
Despite CPC seeming like a super simple solution, if you want to really achieve excellent earnings, you will need to diligently track and optimize your CPC campaigns. It is not uncommon for the tiniest tweaks to catapult an average-performing campaign to stardom. When first entering the CPC affiliate arena, you will need to test many CPC offers, ad formats, placements, and ad messages to find those that perform best with your audience.
Fine-tuning a CPC campaign takes time and with every change, you need to gather sufficient data before making the next tweak. Another reason why optimization needs to be a slow methodical process is that you cannot make multiple changes all at once because you may not know afterward exactly which change led to an improvement or a decline.
Interestingly, sometimes more is less when it comes to ads. Of course, you want as many clicks as possible, but plastering your site with too many ads can actually have a negative effect. As part of your optimization process, you will need to find that “sweet spot” where you have the right balance to get the maximum number of clicks.
Being a successful CPC affiliate is a process and with experience, you will gain invaluable knowledge of how to squeeze the maximum returns from your traffic. Often, affiliates give up because they see they are not making money, but with a small fix, it can turn a campaign around. In essence, CPC campaign optimization is the steps and procedures to maximize ROI.