Explore the different ways you can be paid for participating in online advertising.

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Affiliate Programs Payment & Compensation Models

Affiliate programs are the ideal way to make your web site profitable and make use of the traffic your site generates. There is such a huge range of web affiliate programs now available to suit you and your site that you can be discerning when choosing the affiliate that is best for you. When selecting an affiliate program you really have to do your homework to find the one that will pay you the best.

The following compensation models are relevant for affiliate marketing.

Pay-per-impression (PPI) / Cost-per-thousand (CPM)
Cost-per-mil (mil/mille/M = latin/Roman numeral for thousand) impressions. Publisher gets from Advertiser $x.xx amount of money for every 1000 impressions (page views/displays) of the Ad. The Ad can be text (AdSense), banner image or rich media.

Cost Per Impression is a phrase often used in online advertising and marketing related to web traffic. It is used for measuring the worth and cost of a specific e-marketing campaign. This technique is applied with web banners, text links, e-mail spam, and opt-in e-mail advertising, although opt-in e-mail advertising is more commonly charged on a Cost Per Action (CPA) basis.

The Cost Per Impression is often measured using the CPM (Cost Per Mille) metric. (A CPM is the cost of one thousand (1,000) impressions.)

CPM is considered the optimal form of selling online advertising from the publisher's point of view. A publisher gets paid for each ad that is shown.

This type of advertising arrangement closely resembles Television and Print Advertising Methods for speculating the cost of an Advertisement. Often, industry agreed approximates are used. With Television the Nielsen Ratings are used and Print is based on the circulation a publication has.

For Online Advertising, the numbers of views can be a lot more precise. When a user requests a Web Page, the originating server creates a log entry. Also, a third party tracker can be placed in the web page to verify how many accesses that page had.

CPM and/or Flat rate advertising deals are preferred by the Publisher/Webmaster because they will get paid regardless of any action taken.

Pay-per-click (PPC) / Cost-per-click (CPC)
Cost-per-click. Advertiser pays publisher $x.xx amount of money, every time a visitor (potential prospect) clicks on the advertiser's Ad. It is irrelevant (for the compensation) how often an Ad is displayed. commission is only due when the Ad is clicked. See also click fraud.

Pay per click (PPC) is an advertising technique used on websites, advertising networks, and search engines.

Advertisers bid on "keywords" that they believe their target market (people they think would be interested in their offer) would type in the search bar when they are looking for their type of product or service. For example, if an advertiser sells red widgets, he/she would bid on the keyword "red widgets", hoping a user would type those words in the search bar, see their ad, click on it and buy. These ads are called "sponsored links" or "sponsored ads" and appear next to and sometimes above the natural or organic results on the page. The advertiser pays only when the user clicks on the ad.

While many companies exist in this space, Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing, which was formerly Overture, are the largest network operators as of 2006. In the spring of 2006, MSN started beta testing their own PPC service, MSN adCenter. Depending on the search engine, minimum prices per click start at US$0.01 (up to US$0.50). Very popular search terms can cost much more on popular engines. Abuse of the pay per click model can result in click fraud.

Pay-per-lead (PPL) / Cost-per-action/acquisition (CPA) / Cost-per-lead CPL)
Cost-per-action or Cost-per-acquisition (CPA), Cost-per-Lead (CPL). Advertiser pays publisher $x.xx in commission for every visitor that was referred by the publisher to the advertiser (web site) and performs a desired action, such as filling out a form, creating an account or signing up for a newsletter. This compensation model is very popular with online services from internet service providers, cell phone providers, banks (loans, mortgages, credit cards) and subscription services.

Cost Per Action or CPA (as it is often initialized to) is a phrase often used in online advertising and online marketing circles.

CPA is considered the optimal form of buying online advertising from a direct response advertiser's point of view. An advertiser only pays for the ad when an action has occurred. An action can be a product being purchased, a form being filled, etc. (The desired action to be performed is determined by the advertiser.) Google has incorporated this model into their Google AdSense offering while eBay has recently announced a similar pricing called AdContext.

A related term, eCPA or effective Cost Per Action, is used to measure the effectiveness of advertising inventory purchased (by the advertiser) via a CPC, CPM, or CPT basis.

The CPA can be determined by different factors, depending where the online advertising inventory is being purchased.

Pay-per-sale (PPS) / Cost-per-sale (CPS)
Cost-per-sale (CPS). Advertiser pays the publisher a percentage (%) of the order amount (sale) that was created by a customer who was referred by the publisher. This model is by far the most common compensation model used by online retailers that have an affiliate program. This form of compensation is also referred to as Revenue sharing.

Revenue sharing is the splitting of operating profits and losses between the general partner and limited partners in a limited partnership. More generally, the practice of sharing operating profits with a company's employees, or of sharing the revenues resulting between companies in an alliance.

Revenue sharing, as it pertains to the United States government, was in place from 1972-1987. Under this policy, Congress gave an annual share of the federal tax revenue to the States and their cities, counties, isthmuses and townships. Revenue sharing was extremely popular with state officials, but it lost federal support during the Reagan Administration. Revenue sharing was ended in 1987 to help narrow the National Government's deficit. In 1987, revenue sharing was primarily replaced with block grants.

Pay-per-call (no abbreviation exists yet)
This is a new compensation model. No official abbreviation exist yet. Advertiser pays publisher a $x.xx commission for phone calls received from potential prospects as response to a specific publisher Ad. Recently developed call-tracking technology allows to create a bridge between online and offline advertising. Pay-per-call advertising is still new and in its infancy.