CPA, or cost per action, is a type of marketing very similar to both cost per click and standard affiliate marketing. It can be used to market nearly anything, primarily from sellers and retailers. Affiliate marketing comes from manufacturers, CPC comes from retailers, and CPA can come from both.
Typically, CPA offers come from networks that have hundreds or thousands of offers available. You can pick up a wide range of offers to make your own resale shop unique. You can cover a variety of niches and manufacturers all from one place.
CPA does not necessarily rely on a purchase like affiliate networking. The “action” can be nebulous, and can be anything from a purchase to a click, or a sign-up, or a phone call, or whatever else. CPA offers tend to be lower value than comparable affiliate offers for purchases, simply because a lead is not always a sale. However, CPA offers can be much more valuable if you’re referring people as leads to a product that requires a lot of sales work, like a yacht. Yes, believe it or not, CPA offers for multi-million-dollar yachts do exist. They, uh, they aren’t easy to sell.
So, the question is, what CPA networks should you use, if you’re going to invest in CPA? Here are my best suggestions.
OfferVault is not a CPA network itself. Rather, it’s an aggregator that pulls in offers from a wide variety of networks, both CPA and affiliate. You can see offer details, payouts, the category, the network the offer is through, and the last time the offer information was updated.
I like to use OfferVault to double-check on my offers every couple of months. Sometimes you’ll find the same offer through a different network, paying more. The reason is generally because the manufacturer offered their deal to another network, and that network picked it up, but takes a smaller cut. A lot of times offers are exclusive, but when you can find the same one for a more lucrative payout, there’s no reason not to switch. CPA networks generally understand that you’re working with more than one network at any given time; they have no delusions of exclusivity and no claim to your sole attention.
MaxBounty is one of the top tier CPA networks, and has been for years. They’re very high quality, but they’re also very strict on both their entry requirements and on their ongoing performance. If you even have a whiff of fake activity, fake leads, or fake traffic, they will ban you in a heartbeat. Because of this they are able to attract and keep some of the best clients in the business. If you’re looking for high value, high converting offers to use, this is the place to be.
MaxBounty has high entry requirements, but if you manage to make it in, you’ll be greeted by a dedicated account representative and affiliate manager who helps you make decisions and promotes your offers. If you have questions or need support, they’re always around. On the other hand, they don’t actually have a huge pool of offers, so there’s a lot of competition for what they do have. You have to distinguish yourself in order to succeed.
PeerFly is arguably the number one CPA network in the world. They have a huge network of a ton of different offers, possibly the largest single database available. They have a bunch of different levels of payment too, ranging from volume-based offers with value to high tier offers with quite a bit for every action.
The primary downside is that it’s pretty hard to get into. There’s a lot of competition and they like to maintain the aura of exclusivity. They’re also very strict about fraud, and they don’t give second chances. If you’re banned, you’re out, and you can’t get back in. It’s virtually impossible to slip in a second account or get your primary account unbanned.
On the plus side, in addition to a huge library of high value, high paying offers, you’re also able to get direct support from the staff and admins at any time. They’re very active on the forums and they’re more than willing to dispense advice to help you make more sales. After all, the more you sell, the more they make in their commission.
ClickBooth specializes in hard to get offers with a high value attached. They often require email and zip code submits, and they include a lot of financial offers that people are very hesitant to sign up for online.
Figure that you’re going to have to have a very authoritative site if you want to even get into this network, let alone succeed in using it. You need to not only have an audience, but have the trust of that audience, so they feel secure in filling out offers you promote. This is harder than it sounds.
ClickBooth is very exclusive – seeing a pattern? – but they’re also fairly limited. If you’re not in a financial or a dating niche, you might not find much to advertise through them. You’re also going to have to have a sizable amount of traffic to get accepted to the network.
That said, it’s not a bad network to have in your stable. Just be aware that they have been known to ban people at the drop of a hat, and it’s not always clear why they have done so. I list ClickBooth because it’s a good network for the people who can use it, but it’s very much not for everyone.
GWM is easily one of the top ten networks to join. They’re not as exclusive as some others, but they’re also not quite as good. They’re up there, though, and they focus on offers that tend to convert very well. They might not have the best value of all time, but you more than make up for it with high conversion rates and high volume. It’s very much a network you can use to kick your marketing career into high gear. It scales very well with traffic and growth.
A lot of people list GWM as one of their favorite networks, and with good reasons. They very quickly become a staple of your advertising career. Others might fill in the high end offers, but you need bulk, you need the every day conversions that keep you going from week to week, and that’s where this network excels. Plus, their support is top notch, they’re reliable with payments, and they’re full of great account reps.
Any time you see a reference to NeverBlue, they’re talking about the network that has since become GlobalWide Media. Very little has changed besides the name. Of course, it’s reasonable if you want to shy away from them; they were sold to pay off the debts of the parent company, after all.
Matomy has a whole lot of different forms of advertising. They aren’t just a CPA network. They do display advertising, video advertising, click incentives, domain parking, search advertising and more all in addition to their affiliates. This makes them a very good network to join to create a robust monetization scheme throughout a network of different sites. Their affiliate/CPA section has over 1,600 offers available, using their in-house system.
They aren’t without their downsides, though. They have a lot of the same perks as other networks on this list, but they aren’t quite as good at any of them. They have more offers, but they aren’t as valuable. They have a higher payment threshold. They pay less often. Their support isn’t quite as good. Their tracking is a little less precise. They are, essentially, just a bit of the same but worse than the best of the best.
W4 is a relatively new network, but they have taken the scene by storm. Their reviews are solidly good across the board, and they even have a referral commission for bringing in new marketers. They don’t have the largest pool of offers – half of what Matomy has – but they have a heck of a lot of support and a lot of value packed into those offers.
W4 has offers with a lot of big names, but some of them aren’t exactly offers you need a network to get. For example, you don’t need to go through W4 to use Amazon referral links, you can just do that directly. They do have clients such as Microsoft, Nutrisystem, Sears, and the Wall Street Journal, though.
I like W4, and I think it works really well as a newcomer’s network. They’re always looking to expand, so they’re a bit broader on accepting people than other networks may be, and there’s less in-built competition and elitism in the community.
Not the best network on this list, but still pretty good. Their primary focus tends to be on mobile offers, which means if you have a site that can really rake in the mobile traffic and conversions, you can make bank here. On the flip side, they’re not the best place to go for desktop ads.
AdKnowledge is actually kind of an aggregator more than a network itself. They don’t tend to make direct connections with advertisers. Rather, they work with other networks as a subsidiary. They have connections to Affinity Media, Parked, Infolinks, Kontera, Lycos, and a handful of others.
That said, you can skip them entirely if you go with the people they represent directly. It’s more work to manage six different accounts than it is to manage just one, but that’s the price you pay for avoiding that extra cut taken out of your paycheck.
This network is unique in that they allow you to incentivize your referrals. Most of the time, if you try to offer a gift or a payment in exchange for a lead, you’re sending low quality leads into the system, and the network suffers for it. CPAWay doesn’t really care about this, so they allow you to get any kind of lead you want. Well, any kind of lead except the actually fake leads; those they will still filter out and not pay you for.
CPAWay has a large offer list, though not as large as some of the others on this list. It’s the flexibility of their model that really allows you to grow freely. They have a lot of support to help you draw the line between success and mediocrity, and they pay on time. There’s not much more to say, really.
There are a lot of CPA networks that I didn’t list here; hundreds of them, in fact. Some of them will be sub-networks and some of them will be largely redundant, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad in any way. There are, however, some networks you want to avoid at all costs.
There are others, of course. In fact, if you’ve been scammed by a network, I’d like to know. Just make sure it was actually the network scamming you; I’m not going to publish comments from people who claim to have been scammed when they were trying to push off fake traffic or fake referrals for a quick bit of cash. Of course they aren’t going to pay you for that.
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