CPA or CPL — which offer to choose? - Blog Dont.Farm

3 September 2021
CPA or CPL —  which offer to choose?

Cost-per-lead or CPL is a model where the webmaster gets paid per lead. Sometimes it is called PPL — Pay-per-lead.

In Cost-per-action or CPA the affiliate gets paid for the targeted user action. The action in this case is chosen by the advertiser.

Beginners may think that the CPL-model is the most profitable way to earn money at the start. Let’s look at the differences and similarities between the two.

How it works

A lead is any contact information that will help the advertiser to contact the user and sell him the product.

Accordingly, with CPL, the main task of the webmaster is to find the target user and make him provide the advertiser with his contacts.

In the case of CPA, the advertiser chooses the specific action the user should perform: sign up for a newsletter, call a special number, follow a link or register on a website — it depends on the goals of the specific customer.

Additional requirements 

Since when working with CPL there can be a lot of fraud and untargeted traffic, advertisers can impose additional requirements on leads. 

For example, an advertiser can pay for the lead if the user has provided a complete list of his or her contacts: name, phone number, email and linked a bank card. 

The advertiser may also refuse to pay for untargeted or cold traffic.

For example, if the user cannot be reached, or if the users say that they have been promised more in the ad than they actually have. Or if the person doesn’t understand the product or why the company calls him.

CPL is more commonly used in abroad, gambling and online casino offers. In the case of the latter two verticals, the advertiser may require that the user has to make a deposit. The advertiser may also look at the percentage of user retention. Without this he will consider the lead to be untargeted.

For CPA, all requirements will depend on the specific targeting action. 

For example, if an advertiser needs to attract potential employees, he may pay only for contacts that belonged to users of the relevant profession.

Countries to work with

It all depends on the type of product or service the advertiser is offering. 

For example, if it is a game or worldwide delivery of goods, the ability to pay users will play a key role. If it’s a dating, some services may filter users according to their nationality.

The cheapest traffic with low cost per lead is from Tier-3 countries: Angola, Cambodia, Laos, Mali, Mongolia, Namibia, etc.

However, the advertiser may require the traffic to come only from certain countries, e.g. Tier-1. Such traffic is more expensive, which means you have to spend a lot more to attract it. 

Traffic sources

Sometimes advertisers may demand traffic from a specific source. 

For example, specifically from social networks or search engines. If there are such demands, you should calculate your budget well and see how much you are willing to invest. 

Some webmasters note that the best traffic for CPL comes from Facebook. That said, this is not the easiest task for novice affiliates: Facebook is an expensive source of traffic that will require a large investment to operate. 

When working with Google Ads and Facebook, affiliates often meet bans of accounts. There are many reasons for that: the account is not warmed up, wrong payment card, creatives or ad contents violate the requirements of the traffic source, etc.

In order to reduce the risk of being banned, you need to spend a lot of money on proxy and anti-detect browser for each account or you can buy accounts from If you buy our accounts by subscription, you’ll get an unlimited number of replacements of banned accounts.

Creative requirements

It is important not to exaggerate too much the benefits of the advertised products, because you will be paid for targeted leads. This applies to both CPA and CPL offers.

If there are too many benefits of the product in the ad that are not proven on the company page itself, the user might not make the targeted action. As a result, you won’t get paid.

There have been cases where affiliates have promised a cash bonus in ads that didn’t actually happen. As a result, there has been negative feedback from users and the advertiser didn’t pay for the webmasters work. 

For CPL, you will need a landing page in any case, because the user has to leave his contacts. In CPA, it will depend on the specific offer.


As a rule, CPL is paid higher than CPA. This is due to the fact that the affiliate has to select target traffic and the advertiser may have additional requirements for leads. Moreover, due to the fact that the advertiser can take into account such indicators as deposit and retention,  sometimes webmasters have to wait for payments for several days or weeks.

If you are just starting to work with affiliate marketing, in our experience at first it is better to choose CPA-offers. This will allow you to gain experience at a lower cost and understand which offers and traffic sources you feel more comfortable working with.

What’s more profitable for advertisers

CPA is the most popular payment model. As a rule, CPA is much more profitable for advertisers: with less cost, they can get a lead that will go through the entire sales funnel.

For example, with CPL-model, a confirmed lead who goes through full registration may cost $30. With CPA he can pay $5 for a targeted action. Even if only 2 out of 6 leads are targeted, in the long run the advertiser will benefit because he will get 1 lead for $15.

How to choose an offer

Some advertisers ask as part of a test to attract traffic via CPA, after which he may offer CPL payment.

In reality, you can make good money on any payment model. The key thing is to pay attention to the payment terms of a particular offer and advertiser.

If the offer’s rate is much higher than the market, there are two options: either the offer is difficult to promote, or it has already been squeezed out, and you have to spend a lot of time and money on searching for the proper audience.