Cost Per Action, or CPA is an advertising program where you earn money when a website visitor performs and completes an action required by the advertiser, like making an online purchase, register on a website or subscribing to a newsletter or mailing list.

For many advertisers, CPA advertising can be cost-effective, since they only pay for “actual” actions taken, as compared to CPC (cost per click) and CPM (cost per thousand impressions) which do not guarantee actual results.

Although there is no 100-percent “returns” guarantee in online advertising, CPA can be an effective method when launching a fairly new product, service or offer. It is easier to manage advertising budgets against results since the latter is easily measurable, and in normal situations, advertisers get what they are willing to pay for.

CPA can also be mixed with CPC and CPM to achieve a broader exposure and reach of products/services advertised.

CPA programs work well if you have “special” contents, like videos, games, software downloads and on-demand contents. Many CPA ads allow you to “lock” your contents and can be accessed only when the visitor performs an action by “responding” to any of the listed offers.

While creating and maintaining these types of websites can be very challenging, the rewards are bigger. Simple actions like registering to a website offer, survey, or subscribing to newsletter pay around 0.50 cents to as high as 10 dollars.

Some programs pay as much as 20 to several hundreds of dollars per verified lead or actual sale generated.

CPA basic rules and terminologies

When doing CPA, you need to understand some basic rules. Some programs allow “incentivized” traffic, meaning, you can reward visitors just to visit a site, or click on an offer. However, CPA programs allowing incentivized traffics tend to pay less.

Some CPA ads allow “content” lockers, and even provide “content-locking” scripts. Some allow social media traffic like posting the ads or offers in twitter and facebook. Others allow pay-per-click advertising to generate traffic and leads.

To start exploring the revenue opportunities in CPA programs, you can check out LeadBolt and CPAWay, probably two of the best and publisher friendly CPA programs available.

Other programs which also offer CPA opportunities are T3Leads and Pepperjam.